the shame of the parental hand out.

9 04 2010

i am one of 5 children (all girls in fact). growing up, this meant hardcore hand-me downs, crowded bathrooms, that my guidance counselor didn’t know my name (4 of us were in high school at the same time), and that when i graduated from high school (save for birthday gifts and helping pay for college), the hand-out money completely dried up. when you have that many kids, being both equitable and economical is tantamount. which isn’t to say that my parents are not loving and generous people.  it just means that my mom hasn’t slipped me a twenty since i was 17, and i’m ok with that. at this point in my life, i think it would actually be really weird and awkward.

and speaking of weird and awkward, here come the future in-laws! actually, i really love them. when i was married before, i always used to fantasize that my current in-laws were actually my now future in-laws (um… still sleep deprived- does that make sense?).  anyway, they’re great, but they are professional level money slippers. last week, we took them to po’ boys and pickles to thank them for being generally wonderful and generous of both their time and their money while we’ve been fixing up the ole condo (future-dad built us the most amazing dvd shelf). because when you really love someone, you say it with sticky toffee pudding.  anyhow, we basically had to wrestle them to the ground just to get them to let us pay. but THEN, they slipped the boyfriend a couple of twenties while i was in the bathroom! no matter what we do to try and show our gratitude, they immediately undo it as soon as i leave the room (they boyfriend is weak when it comes to free money).

so here’s today’s major dilemma: as you might already know, we need to materialize $3750 by june 1st to pay for our share of a new roof. we have the money, but it seriously depletes our savings cushion in a way that is both scary and uncomfortable. so obviously, we’re a bit stressed about it. the future-rents know about this, and of course at easter dinner…. out comes the checkbook. had there not been a giant ham there, i would have strongly considered throwing myself across the table to knock it out of their hands.  in hindsight, ham pants would have probably been a better option than taking the cash. it’s not enough to cover the whole thing, but it makes a SERIOUS DENT. which is great, but i feel really terrible about taking it, especially when i know we can afford to pay for it on our own. in my head, we’re grown-ups and we should sort out our financial issues together- not together with his parents.  there’s no way in hell that i can convince him to give it back. so now what? how do i say thank you? how do i not feel like i will always owe them something? how do i get them to stop!? am i being a complete spaz? should i just take the money and not give it another thought?

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14 responses

9 04 2010
The Coupon Goddess

Wow! What a situation. First off, that’s awesome that they would do that. Be gracious and accept their generosity. Keep it in your mind and pay it forward any way you can to whoever you can. What goes around comes around, right? That’s pretty much what my life is about. I’ve been blessed in many ways and I can’t ever repay the people that got me to where I’m at monetarily. So I do it by helping others when I can in small and big ways. Boy I hope that makes sense. LOL!

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

it makes perfect sense. screw the coupon clipping, has anyone ever told you that you should be a life coach? you seem to know exactly the right answer for every dilemma. your children are very lucky to have someone setting such an incredible example for them (both with ethics and with footwear).

9 04 2010
sarah d

My in laws are like that too and my parents were generous too until their money situation got tight. I agree to be gracious and take it. I don’t ask my in laws for thing but they in the past have help us with planned purchases– part of a washer/dryer set, a mattress and a few other things. We also get very generous gifts for the kids, money ones go away in savings but last weekend my mother in law took me to some outlet stores to get the kids spring clothes. She does this ever season i’ve learned and it’s easier for me to go than get random things(that would happen when i said no we are ok) We know we don’t need it but it’s nice to get the help.
The tough part is if the other set of parents knows– its hard to hid new clothes and such. My parents were generous but recent economic situations effected things. My mom tries to do things to help me out vs getting me things. But I think she still wishes she could keep up with the other grandparent gifts. I actually had a set of coupons for my mom and told her how she could get free pasta and other cheap things with them. They don’t ask for help but she got jealous of my pasta this week so i gave her my extra coupons.

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

money just makes things so awkward sometimes. i wish it was easier for people to understand that it’s possible to show love without having to spend money. but on the other hand it’s also really nice to get help sometimes (especially if you have kids). but it makes me sad that your parents feel outdone by your in-laws. you’re sweet to share your couponing wisdom!

9 04 2010
Lynn

My parents have been generous to us to an embarrasing amount that will have me in therapy for many years to come. But- and I hope this doesn’t sound too preachy- now that I have a little kiddo of my own, I totally get it. It actually probably makes them happy to help you guys. And my parents’ attitude is, we’re going to inherit their money anyways, so they’d like to see us enjoy it while they’re alive, which is weird and hard and amazing.

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

weird and hard and amazing pretty much sums it up. maybe i will understand more when i have my own peanuts. in the meantime, the consensus seems to be that i need to take the money and run. i mean, find a really great way to say thank you. i’m thinking sky writing?

9 04 2010
Ladyelmo

A gift, generously given, should be generously received. Smile and say thank you. A MAJOR thank you note wouldn’t hurt, either. (and probably a grandchild too, at some point LOL. Just kidding.) A gift is wonderful, but don’t ever go the loan route. It’s never a good place to be. I did it once with my mom-in-law and it was really uncomfortable.

I’m in awe, by the way. As much as you put yourself down for your financial situation, you’ve got the cash to cover such an expense? I BOW before you – way to go!

I got the warm fuzzies when you said you were one of 5 girls. The fact that you still acknowledge us all as sisters, despite all our bizarre family dynamics and awkward history, made me feel wonderful. But, I have to say I never dumped hand-me-downs on you (I don’t think anyway). You were taller than me! I won’t argue the bathroom comment though. That was a major problem. And don’t forget the period where we all shared one bedroom in the apartment. That was fun.

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

that’s a really smart thing to say. no wonder your children are so well behaved! i agree that borrowing money from family is tricky, so i’m glad that this is a gift rather than a loan. and don’t be too envious of my financial situation! i’ve still got a mountain of debt, and i’m only hoarding the cash because this economy makes me nervous for my job. but thanks for the bow! glad i could give you the warm fuzzies too! of course i think of you guys as my sisters. although i do agree that we have sort of a crazy family history, it’s our family history, and what makes us who we are! my hand-me downs were pretty much all from saskia, and mostly school uniforms. i can’t say that i’m not glad to see that era come to an end. 🙂

10 04 2010
Evelyn

I’m with everyone else – if they can afford to give it, let them give and be gracious in your thanks to them. Nothing to feel guilty about – I’m sure it does make them feel good to be able to help. You’re doing a great job of getting yourself financially in order. Congratulations!

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

thanks so much! i suppose now i just have to figure out an appropriate way to say thank you. any good ideas?

10 04 2010
blackgirlinmaine

I agree with everyone else be gracious and accept it. I do understand how you feel as my FIL in his generosity bought us a house. He has never lorded it over us and I have learned to accept the generosity but not take it for granted. If possible at some point pay it forward to someone else.

10 04 2010
bessmarvin

a house! wow, that is a truly incredible gift. and that he’s never lorded it over is a testament to what a good person he must be. you’re lucky lady! pay it forward seems to be a popular suggestion… i’m not sure i know how? maybe someday i’ll be lucky enough to have enough cash to be able to give it to someone i love when they need it.

12 04 2010
chris

for sure accept it! they wouldn’t offer it unless they truly wanted to give it to you. in thanks, i would write a nice heartfelt note to them. this may seem lame, but people rarely take the time to sit down and write things on pen and paper and send them snail mail anymore. my parents gave us a nice chunk of money to buy land when we built our first house. i know it made them happy to see us in our own home at such a young age.

15 04 2010
bessmarvin

you know, that’s an excellent idea. unfortunately, i’m the more word-proficient than the boyfriend, so it looks like i’ll be saddled with this one. maybe i’ll make them a funny little painting of a roof to go with it. it’s really nice to hear that everyone else is getting parental hand-outs as adults. apparently, i’m in good company!

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