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Dr. Tom
Dr. Tom, Family Therapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 23
Experience:  Dr. Smith taught graduate level Family Therapy and counsels.
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My (83) mother lives on a fixed income which meets her needs

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My (83) mother lives on a fixed income which meets her needs and keeps her comfortable. My older sister (60) recently lost her job after 16 years w/ same employer (son-in-law lost his job months earlier). Things are really tough financially for my sister. This situation upsets my mother greatly because my years ago, over a fairly long period of time, my parents had to send my sister money to help her with her young children (divorced from first husband) and it took an emotional strain on my mother. Now, at 83 she is having to go thru that emotional turmoil once again. My question is, should she send my sister money each month? I know there is never a point when a parent stops being a parent and stops caring for and worrying about their children. But she is torn what to do. Your advice please?
Here are some things to consider: For what purpose does your sister need some money? Is it rent, food or utilities? If so, a set amount to get her through a tough time with necessities may be appropriate if your mom can do this without causing herself an economic burden. Does your sister have a plan to get back on her feet? Is she financially responsible? Will she be able to repay your mother or will this be gifted? Sending money to your sister each month with no end in sight may be encouraging a financially dependent relationship your aged mother may not be able to bear.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

my sister has had a history of financial irresponsibility, but in recent years she has been very responsible. i do not see my sister ever paying the money back. the only plan my sister has is to try and find work....she was provided the services of a career coach and a few job search seminars courtesy of her former employer, and she has attended all. she was a telecommuter (IT work) and that allowed her to relocate years ago to this very small new england town. given her age and more company-specific skills, she is finding herself not being as marketable as younger job seekers with more current IT skills.

my mother is not very savvy when it comes to budgeting her finances. i try to help her but, frankly, i don't have much to offer. i think it would make my mother feel better if she sent some money each month, but i have to be careful and make sure she does not overburden her own financial needs.

Thanks for the information. You have a clear picture of what is going on. You have answered your question I think. Your mom needs to feel better and wants to help. A token amount of money that is reasonable and does not burden her would let your sister know that she is not forgotten and relieves your mother of any uncomfortable feelings she may have. It is wise for you to advise your mom and make sure she does not go "overboard" with what she sends. You sister is in a tough spot given her age and skill set. However, we live in the internet era and if she upgrades her skill-set, she can be as good as any of the younger folks who telecommute. What you can do is encourage her. Thanks for the opportunity to answer your question.
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Please let me know how things turn out and if there is any thing further that I can answer.