“My Father is Homeless, But My Husband Won’t Let Him Move in With Us”

My father lost his job about four years ago and spent the next two years putting out expensive personal fires my half-sister created in her life and supporting her and her boyfriend financially until he ran out of savings. At the time, my husband was adamantly opposed to my father moving in with us but was willing to help him out for a bit. So instead of having my father move into our spare bedroom, we rented him a small apartment in the area and paid all of his expenses.

What I thought would be a few weeks’ arrangement turned into a year-long one as my dad’s efforts to get a job proved fruitless. Finally, about six months ago, he found a job in another state and moved. Unfortunately, that job restructured after three months, and, although my dad was supposed to be transferred to another branch, that fell through, too. So now my dad is unemployed again with nowhere to go. He’s spent the last three months going from place to place looking for a job, with no luck, and is, once again, broke and on the verge of homelessness. Trust me when I say there is no one else around to help. I’m the last line of defense.

However, in the past year and a half, my financial circumstances have changed significantly. I left my downtown job to help my husband build our own business, meaning our income dropped in half, which is fine for us, but that means that renting my father a separate place again is not an option. The only thing we could do to help would be for my father to move into our spare room, and my husband is vehemently against it, to the point of saying that he will not stay in the house if my father moves in.

I certainly understand his position. We supported my father for a year, at a cost in excess of $20,000, counting rent, utilities, food, expenses and moving costs both to here and to where he got the last job. And none of that has been repaid, nor do I realistically expect it ever will be. So, there’s that. Plus, after the last time, there’s no guarantee that my dad would be leaving any time soon. We could end up with a permanent houseguest who does not/cannot contribute financially and whose presence seriously strains our marriage.

But, the thought of my father being homeless horrifies me and tears me up inside. I’m eaten alive with guilt for not doing more. I hate myself for even considering the possibility of letting him be homeless. I cannot eat or sleep. It’s hard to even work. I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of him, regardless of the cost, and that I’ve failed as a human being if I do not.

I don’t know what to do. Ignore my father’s situation and figure he will work it out eventually? I cannot do that if he is on the street. Or do I watch my marriage, business and the life I’ve worked hard to build for myself crumble because my father won’t/can’t support himself? That’s not really an option, either. Do you or your readers have any advice? Or suggestions for a solution I’m too in the middle of to see? — Worried Daughter

There are a couple of things it seems you are “too in the middle” to see or accept. The first is that by helping your father, while very well-intentioned, loving, and generous, you’re actually enabling him to take advantage of your — and your husband’s — kindness. Rather than keeping him from being homeless, it’s quite possible that your goodwill toward him is actually keeping him from reaching his full potential. He may not be making as much effort as he needs to to live the life he wants — or that you want for him, anyway — because he knows he has you and your husband to fall back on.

The other idea that you don’t seem to be seeing clearly is that, if you lose your husband, marriage, and life you’ve built up to help your father, what resources are you going to have left to keep helping him? If the life you live is dependent on staying married to your husband, what happens when he leaves you because he can’t deal with his father-in-law camped out indefinitely in his home? Where will that leave you? If you are the “last line of defense” in your father’s life, what happens when you can no longer support him in the event of an emergency? What then?

Your father’s life is a bit of a mess, due at least in part to him helping out your half-sister financially and “putting out her fires,” as you say. And now you’re at risk of messing up your life by trying to put out your father’s fires. Stop the cycle here. Let your dad put out his own fire. Help him find a hose and some water if necessary — urge him to apply for government aid, suggest he reach out to former contacts, tell him to hire a head-hunter and professional resume editor — but don’t put out his fires or you’ll find yourself with a fire of your own that you aren’t able to control.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Ok, this might sound incredibly naive or insensitive, but I don’t understand why people who are at the moment jobless don’t get a part time job somewhere to at least help themselves a little financially. Why can’t someone work a few nights a week or a weekend so you have some money while you’re searching for a full time job?

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      I was unemployed for 2-3 months in 2011, and it’s not “easy” to get a part-time job right now, especially if you have a college or an advanced degree. They know that you are clearly looking for something full-time and that you could leave the job at any second. So who do they want to hire? The teenager who will be in town for the next two years until they graduate high-school, or the person with a masters who is obviously job-searching. That being said, unemployed for a year without part-time work is a little ridiculous. The father could’ve at least signed up with multiple temp agencies and recruiting services where you are placed in office jobs and you can gain experience. And everyone hires around the holidays, even if it’s only temporary work it would’ve helped with the expenses.

      1. Ok. That makes sense and I get why people wouldn’t want to hire someone who was obviously searching. Thanks! I really wasn’t trying to be rude, I just haven’t been put in that position yet, knock on wood.

      2. This is true. I tried many times to get a part time job in a coffee shop or retail store to help pay my bills (I was working full time but still couldn’t pay the rent). Nobody would hire me because I have a Masters. I even put together a different resume with all of my restaurant/retail experience from high school/college but I hadn’t worked in retail for several years at that point, so employers considered my experience irrelevant. I was never able to get that part time job and ended up moving home with my parents.

      3. GatorGirl says:

        I had a different experience. I have a college degree and a full time job, but was looking for a part time job to finance our wedding. I was hired for a minimum wage retail job partially because I am slightly older than the average college/high school applicant and because I have more education and am more responsible. They saw me as a better candidate even though I’m ony working until my wedding is paid off because I am more responsible.

      4. They especially don’t want to hire older people (the LW’s father sounds like he’s probably 50’s plus) because, hey retirement is just around the corner so why bother? My best friend’s dad lost his job to downsizing at 59 (he’d been with the company for over 15 years). He didn’t have a degree (back then it wasn’t as important), but he suddenly wasn’t qualified for the field he’d been working in his whole life, and no one wanted to hire someone who was “that old.” And he did try for three years.

      5. Do you really think you can afford rent and food on what a part time job pays? In the city I live in, I’d need to make $40,000 before taxes just to live in a 1br in a bad part of town and be able to pay for food, utilities, and health insurance.

      6. But that is why you lie on your resume… Nobody cares when/if you went to college for those types of jobs, and it’s not like you’re making up extra qualifications, just leaving out details on how qualified you actually are. So don’t tell them. Tailor your resume. If you have a stable job history and are close to middle aged, almost nobody is going to question you about your school days anyways, unless it is a degree where you need a job.

      7. Beverlybren says:

        The father may still need health care so is looking for full time employment with benefits that temp jobs do not offer.
        I am glad that Wendy is not my daughter who would leave me old and sitting in social services waiting for help. We have lost the ability to help each other …no wonder there are so many homelesd!

    2. Post-graduation I kept getting rejected from jobs I had held in high school (e.g. data entry, admin assistant) because I was now overqualified. I tried putting together a different resume but without college I had this weird 3 missing years on my resume that were unexplained.

      1. Say you spent three years in prison for something you didn’t didn’t, before being released on appeal. Produce your clean criminal record to show it was wiped.
        Genuinely curious to know whether this would be more successful for job hunting than having a degree.
        Other options:
        – you were looking after a dying relative
        – you were at college but you dropped out before graduating

    3. My husband oversees a bunch of gas stations (which I understand is less desirable to people than temp jobs, etc), but they are always looking for people! I have no idea if this is a regional thing isolated to small to mid size towns in the midwest, but I am always a little weary of the entire “I’ve applied everywhere and just can’t find a thing.” Typically, these folks have not applied at their local gas station.

    4. Paperclip says:

      Seriously, i was unemployed for almost seven months a few years ago and i did EVERYTHING i could think of to make money. Odd jobs,part time work, took paid surveys, even sold some stuff. And i still had plently of time to job hunt

    5. It doesn’t say he’s only applied for full time jobs. Perhaps he’s tried this. Part time jobs aren’t necessarily easier to get.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I’m finding that many companies are now looking to hire the older person because they work, show up, and don’t expect to start at top dollar while training and learning. Know someone who was “downsized” from a job they’d been at for over 30 years. (Stated as the bottom and worked their way up to a great position ”. Out of the blue, downsized. Was the only person downsized. They took the few months and looked and interviews and had 3-4 offers all at money that was expected for the position. Moved and are doing well. Not sure what your dad does, but it should be dooable. Sounds to me that dad may like his “help” a little to much. And oh, BTW if he cleaned up and helped his other child why are they not returning the favor to some extent. This is not wholly on you. But an also think your husband is being disrespectful of your feelings in saying he walks if dad stays with you. He is your family and unless there are reasons for his feelings other than “I don’t want him living with us” he’s being as asshat

    6. Because a part time job doesn’t pay all of the bills and doesn’t leave time for looking for full time work. Also, companies don’t want to hire people that are older. Nobody at Starbucks is over 50. He can maybe get a job at trader joes. We don’t know how old this man is. If he’s over 62 he can apply for early social security and maybe food stamps. Every bit helps in these times.

    7. He might be older and a less desirable hire. He’s probably having a hard time finding and retaining work due to ageism.

      1. Leonora Bloom says:

        Take your father in and tell your husband to suck it up. At the end of your life you will be glad you did it.

    8. I don’t think it’s naive at all. I think there are people who have never lived in real poverty and the idea of not making what they were before is not even on their radar. When you’re really on the edge like this, nothing is below you. Stock shelves overnight at a grocery store. Pick up some janitorial work. Become a dishwasher someplace. It’s not enough to live on, but at least you can get groceries.

      1. Beverlybren says:

        But the point is how can he afford a place to live with the job that only pays enough to buy groceries? He needs a security deposit and first month’s rent to find a place in this day and age.

    9. Because jobs are getting tough to get again because of the rise in Cost of Living. And depending where it is and what race the person is, despite having policy of race, gender, sexuality, etc not being discriminated against them, some companies still do it when they interview the person. Also depends on the location too. If the person lives in a city that is smaller jobs are sometimes harder to obtain because they hire those that are in their communities. Another issue is languages, most places want you to be bilingual. And finally is the jobs hiring may want you to have certain skills and certifications before even considering you.

    10. When one doesn’t have an address or a place to get ready or even shower or wash clothes for an interview it can make it very very hard if not impossible to find a job. Many employers won’t hire a homeless person.

    11. As someone who has been looking for a 2nd part time job to supplement my own income I have to tell you that there are JOBS there but maybe you should search yourself to see the hours they want. Which are not good for choldren or you cannot afford child care? Or qualifications. Or the pay is so skimpy after taxes You really need 3 of those jobs to pay your mortgage while others sit on government aid. You fix the SYSTEM don’t judge the people.

  2. well, i cant argue with what wendy said at all, but- refusing to help a close family member like that would be a dealbreaker for me. you just dont do that shit. thats not cool.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      yeh, I know your husband is supposed to come first, but I can’t imagine a spouse turning away one of my family members and having such a poor attitude about it.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t think the husband necessarily has a poor attitude about it. He’s given the man $20K in one year. Can’t be that awful.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        yeh that’s true. I guess I just wouldn’t even question a family member living with me if they had fallen on hard times. But you bring up a good point below that it should be talked about before marriage.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        I think Bethany will relate from our past discussions, but I come from a big, close family. I can’t imagine turning away a family member either. We already help each other out when one of us needs it. Luckily, my SO comes from a small, but also close family. His parents are quite a bit older than mine so the likelihood of us caring for them is high. There’s a good chance we will have one of them living with us if the other passes away. He wouldn’t be able to leave one alone. I know if I needed to take in someone, he’d happily let them in. It almost happened once before actually and we talked and decided we would do it. Another time we talked about helping out my family member financially with a large chunk, and we decided we’d both happily do it. Neither ever happened. I feel calmer knowing we would do this for each other, so I think its a very important thing to discuss and be on the same page about.

      4. I think there’s a very big difference between caring for an elderly parent who can no longer care for themselves, and financially supporting a father for over a year who has way to support himself.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        I hear you, but it sounds like he doesn’t have a way to support himself. It read to me like he has tried to find work.

      6. I read it that way, too. I’ve watched a few friends and family in the past few years try to find work. None of them were exactly just sitting around reading the want-ads. It took a long time. It sounds like the husband has a problem with the father *besides* his unemployment and the help they’ve given him (wish we knew what it was). As much as I would not want to pay someone’s way, I would absolutely be crushed if my own father were about to be homeless and my husband forced me to do nothing.

      7. I think it depends upon the that the LW and her husband have had with LW’s father in the past. Has the father treated the husband with respect or has he been a Daddy-knows-best critic and meddler. Does the husband have valid reason for expecting that the father’s presence will be very negative to his marriage and ability to run his in-house business. Is the father the sort who will just veg in the house and annoy all, or will he be out of the house during the day job-seeking and doing part-time work. Is Dad’s problem that anything below the status of his prior job is beneath him. The ‘will contribute nothing’ sort of implies that this is the case. Why would the expectation be that the father would do nothing to help out?

      8. They didn’t turn him away, they just can’t support him forever. Like Wendy said… how does this LW plan to support herself and her father if her whole life blows up?

        Seems like the LW’s family has a cycle of enabling based on the situation with her half-sister. so basically because her sister wasn’t financially responsible, and now her father wasn’t financially responsible, it has to fall on her. Just an awful situation. I understand wanting to help family, especially in an emergency or a serious health crisis – but years later this isn’t an emergency anymore, this is a grown man who seemingly can’t be responsible for his own finances.

      9. Yep, there are serious boundary issues at work here. Dad needs to take care of Dad, and the LW needs to take care of herself and her own family (ie husband). If the LW can afford to give money to the dad, great. But at present she can’t.

        Bringing Dad to live with them indefinitely is crazy. I say that if they ever do this, don’t make it too comfy for Dad. He should have to work off his rent by helping out at the family business and maybe they can pay for him to get some kind of work training.

      10. Especially a parent! My Mom would ALWAYS allow me to come home at ANY point in my life; To not do the same for her, I can’t even imagine.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      I feel the same, however, I’ve seen the opposite of this too and it sucks also. My very close friend has paid her mom’s mortgage, among other things, since we were 18. When she married a few years ago, her husband knew the “deal” and still wanted to marry her anyway. About 3 years later now, they are supporting her entirely and she’s not even showing an effort like this dad seems to be. I think my friend’s husband is an awesome guy for this, but I can’t imagine how much it sucks for him. I think the mother’s awful and mooch. But can you cut your own mom off? I couldn’t.

      Like I said below, these issues should be discussed before marriage.

      1. i dont disagree that the dad should be pulling his own weight (“putting out his own fires”), but even so, i cant imagine not letting him live with you if it got to the homeless part. i mean, you just dont do that shit. you just dont.

        it would be hard for me to find out my SO is such a jerk… i just dont think i could deal with it.

      2. Ouch. I wouldn’t call an SO who just spent over 20 grand supporting his wife’s father a “jerk” just because he doesn’t want to be manipulated into supporting the man indefinitely.

      3. well, thats what it would read to me.

      4. and, also, the husband NEVER wanted to let the father stay with them- so really the 20 grand was a cost that didnt have to happen- it happened because the husband was jerk from the beginning of the situation, refusing to let a family member stay with them.

        im not disagreeing that they need better boundaries and that the dad needs to step up, like i said, but the husbands actions would just be a dealbreaker for me. i have always known that at some point either my parents or jake’s parents/grandparents will need help. thats a fact of life.

      5. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Yes, but there still would be money put into him, plus the intrusion into their home and marriage. He didn’t back away from the responsibility, but found a solution. It’s not like he abandoned him last time. The husband gave him a year to get on his feet. That’s a reasonable amount of time.

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Who knows why he didn’t want the dad to stay though. If the only reason is to maintain your marriage, I’d say that’s a good one. Maybe he hates the guy for good reason though.

      7. if they hated each other, wouldnt the LW mention that?

        thats totally could be the “why”- but the LW never mentions why. all she says is that the husband is “vehemently against it” (both now and the first time he was layed off), and “whose presence seriously strains our marriage”- but why? so, i dont see the justification. if he does hate the guy for good reason, then yea- do what you have to do… but like BGM always says, the fact that certain things are kept out of the letter is usually for a reason- and so i have to assume that the husband has no reason (other then he just doesnt want to). which is ridiculous.

      8. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        No reason other than I spent a year supporting him to get him back on his feet and that didn’t work? Why would this time of helping him be any different?

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        It is interesting that part was left out. I assumed bc there is good reason for not wanting dad around, but she didn’t want it to affect our reply.

      10. but its not necessarily something bad.
        When my MIL was “generous” enough to take us in for a couple of months before we bought our house (“generous” because we paid rent, bills, food, etc, and I did 90% of hte housework) I was totally miserable. And we knew it was only for a couple of months. SO miserable so that I ended up with IBS and rashes. And I didnt really have a personality issue with my MIL, but I HATED the permanent cigarette smoke impermeating everything, I hated not having the slightest amount of privacy (it was a smallish apartment and my MIL had no boundaries: she´d open our bedroom door when we were in bed together, luckily she never walked in on us having sex). And yeah, Arturo and I ended up arguing A LOT.
        I would seriously never do that to our marriage again. Help out a family member in need sure. But in a way that won´t strain either of us or our marriage.

      11. The only justification the husband needs is what the LW already listed— the father already indebted to them $20,000, they could, in her own words, “end up with a permanent houseguest who does not/cannot contribute financially and whose presence seriously strains our marriage.” She also says that her husband wants to be able to “relax and be comfortable in his own home”…are these NOT justifiable reasons, somehow?

      12. Yes, these are totally justifiable reasons not to have the LW’s father live with them.

      13. Absolutely justifiable.

      14. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Instead, I would argue that the reason the LW (conveniently) left out the reason(s) her husband was initially so vehemently against her father moving in was because it would so (accurately) paint her father in a very bad light and the LW simply refuses to do that. Why? Because she WANTS to help her father… She wanted Wendy (and us) to help her find a way to persuade her husband to somehow change his mind. NOBODY is going to do that if it turns out the husband has solid grounds for this… And THAT’S why it was left out…

      15. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        EDIT. The LW just wrote in with her husband’s reason, and I must say his opinions here are VERY justified. Very much solid ground. Now that she’s written in with it — I don’t think the LW was deliberately leaving this info out, but that she may have subconsciously simply not wanted to bring it up…

      16. Yeah to me it seems like there is a whole other issue that this guy has with the father, and I’m guessing it is justifiable! I’m betting that the LW left that issue out to get a little more sympathy for her dad.

      17. Yeah, that’s more than some people’s annual pay (myself included). Hardly trivial.

      18. She was also working, so probably half that money was money she brought in. It’s not like the entire 20k came from his own personal bank account.

      19. temperance says:

        If my FFIL was on fire, I wouldn’t piss on him to put it out. He’s horrible and having him around would tank our relationship, to put it mildly. I’m fine letting him reap what he has sown, quite frankly, and we’re not going to fuck our whole future to help him.

        While your friend and her husband are no doubt good people … I am judging the shit out of her mother for being so lazy.

    3. ITA.

      If my parents ever needed me, my husband knows I would do any and everything possible to help them. On the other hand, my parents would never mooch or abuse my generosity like the LWs dad did.

      I think the LW is in a really tough spot. What Wendy said is true, but I don’t think I could ever say no to my parents…

    4. They did help…for a year! are they just supposed to take care of him for the rest of his life? if he is still working age, that could be another 40 years!

      1. He’s probably well into his 60’s and let me tell you age discrimination is real! Loosing your job in your 50’s is a disastrous! You will not just ‘bounce back’ as companies would want a younger worker. You may find a contract position, depending on your skills, but it will take a long time. As always, it’s easier to find work IF you are employed. And as said before part-time work isn’t that easy either as they know you want full time. re is an army of elderly workers looking for work.

    5. You are so right! 🙏 God bless you!

    6. Anonymous says:

      I agree Katie. I couldn’t do it. Make a room in the basement if possible. He gets whatever job he can to live on. He cooks his own food. Then Dad is safe. Daughter has done what she needs to do. Dad is not ‘living with them’ 24/7 to satisfy Husband’s and marriage’s need for privacy. Everyone compromises a bit. Everyone is safe. It’s a cruel world out there. More kindness would help everybody.

    7. I agree Katie. I couldn’t do it. Make a room in the basement if possible. He gets whatever job he can to live on. He cooks his own food. Then Dad is safe. Daughter has done what she needs to do. Dad is not ‘living with them’ 24/7 to satisfy Husband’s and marriage’s need for privacy. Everyone compromises a bit. Everyone is safe. It’s a cruel world out there. More kindness would help everybody.

  3. Switch roles – pretend your dad is your kid who is a fresh college graduate looking for work in the field of his/her major. Yes, as parents, you support them in their search for that job even if that means they need to live at home for a little bit. Then what happens? That lasts for about a year and then your dad is like “you either start paying rent or move out.”
    “But dad, I’m not finding any work as an astrophysicist.”
    “Jesus, the world needs plenty of line cooks, bartenders, and custodians. Guess you’ll have to start there to support yourself while you look for work.”
    “But daaaad.”
    “No. Get a job.”

    1. mochamadness says:

      I agree with you! But I just wanted to say that the way you wrote your dialogue, it’s almost like Jesus is the son in question and God is telling him to get a job as a line cook. I giggled a lot.

    2. THIS. I was in this situation with my ex-boyfriend and his mom. She lost her job and instead of taking whatever work she could get, she maintained her “standards” and only looked for jobs she wanted to do. She was out of work for years and lived with us, rent free. She also “borrowed” tons of money from us to pay her ridiculous car payment. Meanwhile, she “had” to get pedicures every week and other luxuries. She also tried to take over our home and make everything be her way. When I’d remind her that we do things a different way in our home, she’d throw tantrums about how mean I am and how depressed she is and how she’d commit suicide if she wasn’t such a good Christian. It was awful. She’s a big part of why he’s my EX-boyfriend–he just kept enabling that behavior.

  4. lets_be_honest says:

    Tough situation. Sounded to me like he isn’t just a mooch, but falling on really hard times, which makes your decision even harder, or at least it would make my decision harder. Him getting govt support may just be the way to go here.

    Another thing people really should have figured out before marriage. We’ve had talks about what we would do in this situation and I think its an important talk to have. I feel for the LW.

    1. We had this talk too. I don’t know what I would have done if my husband hadn’t been willing to let family stay with us, luckily I don’t have to find out! But, he did want us to have very solid plans if they did move in about how long they would stay, if they stayed for a certain amount of time what they would contribute, etc. I completely understand coming from the other side though, I’m not sure I could imagine living with his Dad for very long.

    2. Lemongrass says:

      We had that talk too. We have a little motto “family comes first.”

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Ah, but which one? New or old?

      2. New!

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        See, I totally struggle with that idea. Ftr, I’m not married, but might as well be (go ahead and yell at me Iwanna, just trying to make a point lol). I don’t know that I would put one over the other, but only see them as equal at best. Luckily, my SO thinks the same way.

      4. Lemongrass says:

        New with old very close behind.

      5. I’m sorry if it makes me a bad wife, but I would have a very hard time putting my husband before my parents.

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        I feel the same way. Curious if you’ve ever discussed this with your husband and how he feels about it?

      7. Honestly, I can’t imagine a situation where I’d have to chose one over the other… I have a great relationship with my parents and my husband, and truth be told, I don’t think my parents would ever put me in a situation where it was them or him.

        The only real situation I can think of where this would come up is where we live. My brother lives a 12+ hour car ride from my parents, and I live an hour away. I refuse to live anywhere further than 5-6 hours from my parents, because I want to be there for them if they need me/something happens. If my husband wanted to move somewhere far away, I don’t think would/could do it. But then again, I don’t think he would ever ask that of me.

      8. Oh, and to answer your question, no, I don’t think we’ve talked about it exactly, but I’m pretty vocal and have let it be known many times, that if they (my parents) need me, I’m going to be there. That’s the kind of person I am, and the type of family I come from, and he knows that.

      9. It kinda does make you a bad wife (sorry), but that’s fine if your husband knows the score and you could accept if your husband put his parents before you (i.e. giving them money the two of you had saved for a dream home or dream vacation or a family or letting them move in indefinitely or spending the holidays with them no matter what because they’re his parents and he chooses them above you and your family or your needs). I personally think it’s an unhealthy way to conduct a marriage, but as long as the two of you know the score and are on the same page, I guess that’s what matters.

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        I guess I’m missing how that makes you a “bad wife” if its agreed upon for both the husband and the wife’s families. I just don’t see how its unhealthy if both parties feel the same way about it.
        I find it admirable that my partner would do anything for his parents/family, and if he said we’re canceling a vacation (luxury) to help his family (more important than my luxuries), I’d be more than ok with that.

      11. If both parties are legitimately ok with being second to their spouse’s parents, then I guess it doesn’t make one a bad spouse, so I will take back that comment. I guess it comes down to shared values. If both spouses share the value of putting parents above everything else — even their marriage — then that’s fine for them. Probably not so fine for their marriage in the long run, but at least both people know the score.

      12. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t look at it as being second, which I guess makes a big difference.

        I’m trying to think of a good example, but I’m failing. The only thing I’m thinking of is husbands v. children. If your house was burning down and you could only save one type of a scenario. If you save your kid, does it mean you love your husband less than your kid? Of course not. Knowing your husband would save the kid doesn’t make you think he loves you less, or that you are “second.” Not the best example. Maybe someone else has a good one.

        It would just be the two of us deciding how to handle something and agreeing. You can both decide to help your parents without saying your parents are more important than your spouse. Mutually exclusive might be the word I looking for.

      13. As I said above, I totally agree with Wendy. Having Dad come to stay with the LW is not about helping out a family member in need. They did that. This is about allowing dysfunctional family dynamics dictate the LW’s emotions. The fact that this family perpetuates the feeling that one should sacrifice their own future for the comfort of other family members is highly unhealthy. LW needs to put herself and her marriage first. All of this guilt is a sign of a very troubled family dynamic.

      14. This is perfect! “The fact that this family perpetuates the feeling that one should sacrifice their own future for the comfort of other family members is highly unhealthy.” Indeed!!

        Also, this isn’t about who comes before who. Enabling the dad to go on doing what isn’t working for him isn’t “saving” him; it doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

      15. bostonpupgal says:

        Ehh I agree with Wendy on this one. When I said my vows my husband became the most important person in my life. That’s the point of getting married. I love my family more than words can say, but they don’t come before my relationship with my husband. Nothing does

    3. GatorGirl says:

      We just had that talk due to this letter. Haha, letters to Wendy serve as better premarital discussion topics than any questionairre I’ve seen!

  5. what about reaching out to the half sister? if your father helped her isn’t it time she returned the favour?

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Sounds like she’s in no position to if she needed so much help herself with all her fires.

      1. yeah…it just sucks for the letter writer…it sounds like if she doesn’t help her father no one else will…and if he did help the half sister so much (which is kind and caring)…then when he needs help…they just turn their back….that’s gotta hurt…i’m kind of in a similar situation where a family member put my parents so far in debt (they are both retired) that I am now living with them to help support them (and don’t get me wrong i love my parents, but now i have no privacy)…and this family member won’t get off their butt to get a job and is constantly asking me for money…but then if we need a favour they are no where to be found

  6. Maybe it’s just my opinion, but I say you help family when they need you. The dad really doesn’t seem like a mooch, but very eager to find a job–heck, he moved to another state for a job that ended up not panning out.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the dad moving into the spare bedroom–aside from the fact that he owes you and your husband $20,000, is your husband not on good terms with your dad for any other reason: personality differences, grudges, or other?

    I say let him move in, on the condition that he actively searches for a job–and gets government assistance in the meantime–and that he needs to be in a better place in 6-12 months. (Or whatever times frame works best.) In the meantime, since he can’t contribute financially, maybe tell him that he’s in charge of cleaning and cooking while he’s home during the day, taking out the dog, etc.

    I’d be in the same boat as the LW: I know you need to protect your relationship, but letting your dad literally be homeless? I just wouldn’t be able to do that to my father.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      Yeh I don’t think completely turning away the father is the best option, at least given my family values. I would say he could move in for 6 months, has to do the cooking/cleaning, and needs to apply to 1 part-time or full-time job a day, five days a week (with proof of an application). Also stress that he should have a schedule. Get up, exercise, do chores, eat lunch, apply to jobs all afternoon, make dinner….I did this when I was unemployed and it helped a LOT. Maybe if you set up boundaries like this the LW’s husband would be more on-board.

  7. I agree with Wendy here & liked her answer a lot—compassionate to all parties, but ultimately kiboshing the idea of having the dad move in.

    Look, the LW may feel inhuman for turning away her dad, but I do really think he should—at this point— be given tools, not refuge. It’s not as if this is the first instance of “hard times” he’s fallen on—they’ve already set him up with his own apartment ~for a year~ without anything good having come of it. I’m sure that the series of unfortunate events for the father were all inevitable (like, I’m not doubting the severity or true unluckiness of his predicament!), buuut… that still doesn’t negate the prior drain he’s been on the LW & her husband. And her life, and her husband’s life, should be the priority here.

    1. WFS. I mean why should LW´s marriage fall apart , just to save Dad (again). I don´t think the husband is being a jerk at all, he´s already spent a lot of money halpeing his FIL, with nothgin to show for it.
      What´s the saying about teaching someone to fish? That´s what LW should have done a long time ago.

    2. WWS, WFS, and WJKS. I understand completely where the LW’s husband is coming from. My own mother is a very negative, toxic person to be around. She is also horrible with money: she has “borrowed” thousands of dollars from me and other family members, blew all of it and lost the house that I grew up in. Now she lives in an apartment that she can afford from Social Security payments. I would NEVER have her live with me and my husband. My sister struggled with the decision not to have her live in her house with her husband and children, but she ultimately made the right decision. It is imperative that you protect your marriage from negative forces that could, over time, destroy it. For anyone who has ever dreaded, from the core of their being, going home when they live with a toxic person, the husband’s feelings make perfect sense. I feel for the LW, but she must protect her marriage. Do not have your father live with you if your husband doesn’t want him in your home.

    3. Exactly – based on what the LW wrote, the dad chose to help her half-sister to his own detriment, and now she’s bailed on all of them. Why should the LW and her husband continue to live with the dad’s poor choices?

  8. I feel for the LW. My mom lives with me and my husband but he knew going in that would be the deal and he and my mom get on like a house on fire. My mom doesn’t work outside the home but she works plenty inside of it and everyone benefits in this arrangement. It is always a little sad for us when she goes on vacation and leaves us….
    You and your husband were generous to put your dad up but I don’t think that entitles your husband to turn his back on him now. Not if the alternative is homelessness. If your father was absent from your childhood then perhaps I could understand since maybe you wouldn’t feel bonded to him (I’m not getting that sense though) but if your dad was a good dad to you then you should help him now. I would start with actively helping him get social assistance to see if he can generate enough help to rent a room some where. This means work on your part to fill out forms or go to the government offices but do it. If the very last resort is your spare room then give it to him until you can finalize assistance for him and find him somewhere else to live. This way you aren’t leaving it up to him – you are the one taking steps to help him be self sufficient and in a place where he can apply for jobs…any jobs. That is the end point your husband can hang his hat on. When I finalize assistance for dad. It is unfair – no doubt. But life isn’t fair. Your husband isn’t a bad guy but sometimes you take a hit for family. If you would take it for him, he needs to take it for you. It isn’t all or nothing here – tell him find the middle ground with you. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. It may be hard but you know what the right thing is…and so does your husband.

    1. I was thinking this too. There are SO MANY models in the rest of the world where its common for parents to move in. One of the big benefits is home and childcare. I don’t know if that is an option/scenario for LW but having a grandparent around full-time to help with a house and baby would represent hundreds of dollars a month.

      1. And in so many of those other societies the parent becomes king/queen of the house and the young marrieds have just ceded control of their lives. I agree with some of the prior posters who suggest that there is a reason why husband does not want his FIL as a live-in. It likely has to do with issues of being controlling.

      2. It depends on the personalities at play. My mom isn’t queen of the world and just devotes herself into making my life and my husband’s life easier and being unobtrusive. That is her just personality though and my husband is family oriented and pretty easy going. I don’t think queen/king of the world is a fair depiction for most. With any relationship – you need boundaries. Some may need more than others but multi-generational families are the norm around the world.

  9. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    “Stop the cycle here. Let your dad put out his own fire.” <— This is logical and probably the right thing to do, but I would not be able to do it. I would have my father live with us until we went broke and we all three were homeless. I don't think I'd ever be able to turn away a family member. I just don't think I could. I don't know what I'd have to endure before I could do that.

    1. Eagle Eye says:

      Yep – allowing my dad/mom/sister/goodness any family member to figure their own crap out would be the healthy and right thing to do, could I do it? Not in a million years!

    2. I agree with this sentiment 1,000%. The logical part of me is all, “Yeah, WWS!” while my nature is all, “Nope! That’s FAMILY!”

      1. But the husband is family, too, and forcing him to basically support his father-in-law indefinitely — letting him live in his home for who knows how long, in a spare room that could very well be meant for a future child eventually‚ is grossly unfair. It really is.

        It would be one thing if the father were very sick and unemployed and needed, like, a convalescent home because he couldn’t afford to stay elsewhere and wasn’t healthy enough to work. Even then, I’d say he should be contributing to bills if he could with a combination of unemployment payment, social security or disability. But this is a man who, as far as we know, is perfectly healthy. It’s shameful that he would want to take advantage of his overly compassionate daughter the way he already has. It really is.

      2. Your last sentence X 100. That’s the other thought I had as I was reading the letter— as her father, shouldn’t he not WANT to impose on his daughter & son-in-law in this way (and to the degree he *already* has)? Especially since he knows firsthand how detrimental it is to an individual when they have to completely bail another person out.

      3. I understand the logic. I really, really do. I think this entire situation is heartbreaking. But, I wouldn’t be able to turn family away were I in this situation. I wouldn’t let one of the people who raised me be homeless. (The one real exception being what Sue Jones wrote below, but I assumed this would have been mentioned.)

        I also “get” that the husband is family, too, and that this would cause marital strain (likely to a magnitude that I can’t wrap my head around it). But, I also know I’d do it for a husband’s parent just as soon as I’d do it for my own — and I’d hope it’d be reciprocated.

        I don’t deny that what I’d do in this situation isn’t necessarily logical or “right.” It may even be downright stupid. All I know that it’s but I was also raised in a family where my dad gave my mom’s sister thousands and thousands of dollars every year because she and her family were REALLY struggling for a pretty long while. Maybe all he did was set a crappy example in that regard, I don’t know. All I know is that I couldn’t do it.

      4. Such good grammar going on….eeshk. Haha.

      5. I agree with Wendy. I hear the loud chorus of “but he’s family!!” I really do. But sometimes family members use you and abuse your kindness and in those situations you are not obligated to continue helping them or associating with them at the expense of your own well-being. I say this rings true times 100 if you are married because you took some pretty legit vows that your spouse will be your #1 partner and priority in life as long as you both shall live. The whole wedding ceremony is symbolic of leaving your childhood family and starting your adult family with your spouse. The husband isn’t a jerk for not wanting to indefinitely support his FIL. A year is plenty long enough to get back on your feet. The dad isn’t trying hard enough.

      6. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Frankly with the way people around here sometimes throw around the word TOXIC — I can’t believe that it hasn’t come up as of yet in this thread. For the father’s behavior here is very TOXIC… He’s doing all he can to drive a permanent wedge into his daughter’s marriage… Even so, still, a surprising number of you are all screaming “BUT HE’S FAMILY!!!”

        Again, I remain truly baffled.

      7. 6napkinburger says:

        I feel like you’re reading a whole lot of “lazy good-for-nothing bum”-ness into the Dad that I’m just not getting. He really doesn’t sound like a mooch or that he took advantage of the good will of his daughter, or slacked off because she was paying for rent. It can take months to find a good job in your area of skill, during which a part-time job would severly hinder your chances of finding work. Though, once enough time has passed, you have to give up on that and take what you can get. Which he did — after giving up on that, it seems like he took the out of town job, which then had layoffs (note: he didn’t get fired, the job just didn’t exist anymore). So now he’s back to square one.

        It is VERY VERY VERY hard for older adults to get jobs nowadays if they’ve been out of the workforce– I’ve watched my very competent, smart, MBA-having mother try and fail at over 50 potential jobs in the last year.

        I get how hard it is on a marriage and I cannot imagine how hard of a position the LW is in — especially with her husband so against having his inlaw bove in with seemingly no end date. But while your end advice might be the best course of action for the LW, I think you may not realize how difficult it is for that age bracket to get work and are looking at the father as way more manipulative, at-fault than he really is.

      8. Oh, believe me, I do understand how hard the father has it. My issue is that he hasn’t even applied for federal aid. It doesn’t sound like he’s taken any classes to update his skills, or looked into temp work. It sounds as if — and this is affirmed further by the LW’s update in the comments — that he’s skipped a lot of the paths that would put him in a better position to find work and pay his bills in the meantime, and gone straight to taking help from his daughter because that’s just the way it’s done in their family. That would be fine if the daughter were single, but she’s not. And it’s grossly unfair to expect him to help a man who has not exhausted other means of help first — help that would not jeopardize his daughter’s marriage and future.

      9. AndreaMarie says:

        I agree with Wendy 1000% here. Everyone is talking about the LW needing to respect family, what about the father?! He has already taken $20,000 from his daughter. Money she could use to buy a home or towards preparing for children or to invest in their business that is supposed to support HER family’s future.

  10. Sue Jones says:

    How old is the father? Before this last economic downturn, was he steadily employed or is this a lifelong pattern of deadbeat-ism. That is what I would want to know first. Was he a successful professional made redundant by this last recession? Was his employment always a bit spotty? Is he old enough to go into a retirement facility that takes medicare? What about section 8 housing? And we all also need to think about how to help our parents when they get old. Do they have the resources to go into a facility when they need to? These are conversations we all need to have with our aging parents. Now granted, I don’t know if the father is in his 40’s, his 50’s, 60’s or 70’s but a lot of things would make a difference. Regrettably I think we are going to see a lot more of this with the current economy and people need to think through how to handle it.

    1. YES, this is a great response.

    2. 6napkinburger says:

      My parents just took out long-term medical and disability insurance (specifically for aging adults) to spare us the heart and headache of having getting sick and have it eat all of their savings (the kind that pays for a nurse and recouperation, etc.). It’s worth talking to your parents to find out what their retirement plans are, what kind of savings they’ve done (not necessarily hard numbers), and what type of insurances they have. It’s an appropriate conversation and one that can really help out everyone in the long run. (all financial planners recommend having this conversation to understand what your financial obligations will be).

      But I know that when they are really old and there is just one–even if they can live in a retirement community for most of the time, they will expect to live with me and my siblings at least part of the time — that’s part of being family in my family. Which is why liking/tolerating your inlaws is so important.

  11. It rubbed me the wrong way that the husband wouldn’t let the father stay at their house. Is there some underlying issue with the LW’s dad? I mean, if you put deadlines down, it should only be a few months. Yeah, that sucks, but c’mon now, it’s her dad.

    And as a personal note — of course, I’m not married, so right now my dad is the most important man in my life. He has done so much for me over the years — being a loving and doting father, being my biggest cheerleader, buying my first car, paying for college, doing my taxes (still does), keeping me on his “payroll” until I could be financially responsible on my own, etc. etc. I am who I am and am as successful as I am with a lot of help from my dad. So if anything were to ever happen to him and my mom and their jobs… I could never, ever turn them away. They would come live with me, and if my husband had an issue with that… well then he must not be the right one for me if he doesn’t understand how important my relationship is with my parents. Because the reason why I want to be super successful in life is so that I can take care of my parents if/when the time comes. They have done so much for me — I want to do something for them.

    So yeah. That’s just me.

    1. My first comment is the reason it cost this husband $20,000 is due to his first refusal just to let his wife’s father stay in the spare room. I think her husband has a bit of that small minded attitude, that his home is his castle so no other man can be on his turf.
      Second, if the dad is such a bad guy, why would he has spent so much of his money to try and save one of his children from her many “fires?” That is not a bad father, that is a loving father. He may not be that great with money but their are plenty of good people that go out of their way to help others every day and they are not financially stable either.
      I know people over 50 and plenty of them have a difficult time refinding work. A lot of places aren’t really looking to hire employees they consider past their prime, more likely to file workman’s comp due to injuries, miss work due to illness and be a drain on the group medical insurance. Whatever the companies reasons, over 50 is not a good time to be looking for a job. Even if he find’s a part time job, it may not be a living wage so he can afford to rent a place. That’s just reality.
      I feel bad for this woman whose husband is acting like this.

  12. LW, this is really tough situation. I know that I am always preaching on here about seeking therapy, and you would be a prime candidate. You are incredibly conflicted, and in a situation where you feel you are forced to choose between your father and your husband, which is wrenching.

    All that being said, your husband sounds very healthy in his boundaries. You guys have done a lot for your father, and while I completely sympathize with your reasoning, I also find it a little flawed. When you marry, you do break away from the primary family and form your own family–and I do believe that family comes first. This is an extreme circumstance of having to put that into practice, but it’s going to important for you to draw boundaries with your dad that you haven’t in the past.

    There are other ways to help your father by finding him programs, government or otherwise, that he can take advantage of. I understand that it is hard for you to think your father might be homeless, but he also does need to take some responsibility. You just aren’t in a position to help and moving him in is not an option. Accept your husband’s need for his own life WITH YOU, and let your father do his own bidding.

    You are enabling him to continue, and though you love him, HE is the parent, and YOU are the child. Follow your husband’s lead with the boundary-making. If you feel you are having a hard time overcoming that (can’t eat, can’t sleep, etc) then you need to examine this deeper–seek therapy and get to the bottom of it.

  13. I know I am going to catch a lot of flack for this comment but I had to say something anyway. I’ve been following DW for years now and this is probably the first time I disagree with the advice. Hire a headhunter/professional resume editor? With what money? The man is about to be homeless! If he is older, and lives in a smaller town, it can be incredibly hard to find any job for him. Why would anyone hire him if there are 10 people half his age applying for the same position?
    The father took care of LW for 18 years (assuming she left for college right after high school), and I doubt he ever complained that she was “mooching off him” (which he doesn’t seem to be doing now anyway, he just seems to be stuck in a tough spot), and now she is not supposed to return the favor? I thought that you took care of your parents when things are tough… I mean they took care of you for so long until you became someone in life. He doesn’t have to live at their house for free. He can do chores, clean, cook, etc and pay them back that way. They can make arrangements that the father gives them privacy a few times per week and goes out of the house to do his own thing while the LW and the husband spend some time together. Things can be worked out. You don’t turn your back on the person who raised you. I am sorry but you just don’t.

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. This is a HUGE difference between a parent raising a child he/she chose to have and a child supporting a healthy, able-bodied parent indefinitely. Raising your child isn’t “doing a favor.” A child does not have a “favor to return” to the people who raised her. That’s absurd! If the LW spent 20 grand supporting her father for a year, I’m sure she’d be happy to spend a few hundred bucks on a head hunter and professional resume editor if it would help her father find employment. I’m sure her time would also be better spend helping her father apply for federal aid rather than let him move in with her and her husband indefinitely and potentially destroy her marriage.

      1. Absolutely agree to disagree 🙂 You’re right that a child doesn’t HAVE to return a favor but I think we have certain responsibilities to our parents because they raised us and took care of us (again all this provided the relationship between a parent and a child is a healthy one). Are we obligated to do so? Certainly not. But do we as human beings have to remain grateful and thankful to our parents for what they’ve done for us? I think we do.
        Again, I wasn’t talking about indefinitely supporting him but I strongly disagree that she should just let the situation play out and let him put out his own fire. I believe that there are ways to remedy this situation without alienating the husband and without letting the father live on the street. It’s just that I read this letter and immediately thought of my father and the thought of him being in this situation and me letting him become homeless just horrified me…

      2. Can we at least agree that raising a child is not doing it a FAVOR? That’s such a strange word for parenthood.

      3. Never said it was! It’s a parents choice and responsibility (once the choice is made). Wrong choice of words.

      4. You did actually say that, twice:
        “The father took care of LW for 18 years … and now she is not supposed to return the favor?”
        “You’re right that a child doesn’t HAVE to return a favor”

        Wendy is 100% right. Someone who chooses to have a child has a RESPONSIBILITY to take care of them. Especially since a child is incapable of taking care of itself. To view raising a child that you chose to bring into the world as a favor owed to you later in life is wrong on so many levels. If you really consider having a child a retirement plan, than I feel sorry for any kids you may have.

      5. 6napkinburger says:

        And taking care of your (implied: good, caring, loving, non-debilitating addict, non-abusive, non-parascitic) parents is the responsibility of every able adult child.

        I don’t understand why people are so aghast when people suggest that there is a reciprical relationship between parent and child– love, respect, responsibility, and care.

        The joke “I brought you into this world, I can take you right out of it” — your parents have given you everything! You don’t think you “owe” your parents anything for supporting you, loving you, dealing with your teenage hellish years? Yes, of course, it’s part of being a parent, its what you sign up for, and no one is suggesting that its a tit for tat. But part of being a child– a human– is that relationships are reciprocal. You owe them respect and appreciation and reciprocal action if and when they need it if you are able.

      6. lets_be_honest says:


      7. 6napkinburger says:

        Note after reading the update: I want to make it clear that i am not saying that to live up to her responsiblity, the LW must let the dad live with her. I was just responding to Sistine (and others), who seem to be saying that children do not owe anything to their parents. I disagree with that statement.

        LW has already done a significant amount to help her father, and there are a variety of ways that she can and will help him in the future, and that does not always mean throwing open your doors, especially when that will seriously harm your other relationships. I just believe that she has an obligation to try to help her father — how she does so is a different question, one which Wendy tried to answer in her response. That is a different point than my point here.

      8. Thank you 6napkinburger. You said it so much better than I did. I guess the issue hits a bit too close to home for me and it’s hard to find the right words to express myself.

      9. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        To me, owe means that because their parents birthed them, they HAVE to help them, but there are TONS of unfit parents who don’t deserve their kids help. Those who help their parents most likely don’t do it out of obligation, but because they want to because they have good relationships/no history of manipulation/etc. I don’t feel I owe my parents to help them out if they needed it. I would WANT to because of my relationship, but I don’t think it is an obligation. Parents decide to have kids, not the other way around.

      10. This.

      11. 6napkinburger says:

        I think this gets into semantics but we are sort of saying the same thing.

        You say want to help your parents, but that you don’t feel that you owe them, or feel that helping them is an obligation. Do you feel that you could NOT help your parents if they needed it? Even though you want to, do you feel that you would be fine if you didn’t help them? If you think about it, when we “want” to do something, we’d be happier if we did, but we’d be just fine if we didn’t– otherwise, we NEED to do it. But I don’t think you’d be fine if you didn’t help them; I think you’d feel bad about it. And that is because… technically… you feel obligated to do it — you feel it’s your job and your right to help them. The fact that you have a concurrent “want” and “obligation” is the best of all worlds, and the want obscures the feeling of obligation, but I bet it’s there.

      12. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        My parents chose to have me. I’m not obligated to do anything. On the occasion that they’ve asked me for something that I didn’t feel that I could give them, I said no. I don’t feel an obligation. I honestly believe that parents chose to have you and that comes with responsibilities. If you don’t want those responsibilities then don’t have kids!

      13. 6napkinburger says:

        Then you are right, we are not saying the same thing.

        I just do not understand how people can not feel that their parents (see comment above for descriptors) deserve their respect, love, and — when necessary — care and support. And if they deserve it, they “earned” it; if they deserve it, it is owed to them. Such support is not just a nicety that the child, in benevolence, has decided to bestow, but rather it is their obligation and their right to provide. Just because it is an obligation does not take away from the beauty and the wonderful nature of the acts — you can feel just as warm and fuzzy inside because you feel you NEED to help, as you could if you just WANTED to help.

        I just don’t get it.

      14. Could give them or wanted to give them? I feel like there’s a difference there. If you truly felt like you couldn’t give them something they asked of you then it’s one thing. If you could give it to them but chose not to because you didn’t want to, then it’s an entirely different issue. I don’t have an issue with kids not helping their parents if they have no means to do so (not just financially but in other aspects). If you can’t, you can’t. It’s a huge issue for me if a child is able to help the parent in need and chooses not to do so. Again, I don’t think it has anything to do with your parents choice to have you, but with your choice to take care of them when they need it

      15. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        It would have really strained me, but technically I could, but weighing the pros and cons, it didn’t make sense to me to do it.

      16. LadyinPurpleNotRed,

        Agree with this 100%.

        Agree with your below comment 1000%.

      17. Just like, in my opinion, we have a RESPONSIBILITY to take care of our parents. If you read what I said, I never said it should be expected by parents that their kids will take care of them once they are old, but rather the kids themselves realize that they are responsible for their aging parents and make a CHOICE to take care of them later in life. There is a big difference between a parent expecting that and a kid willing to do that for the parent. Not because the parent raised them but simply because it is their parent.

      18. I have to disagree quark, if I told my parents it was my responsibility to take care of them when I grew up they would consider themselves failures — because they are responsible adults who take pride in being able to take care of themselves. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to help out if asked, in an emergency, or haven’t tried to get out in front of some issues (it’s not an accident I show up sometime in the fall and do at least one round of leaf cleaning so my dad won’t be out there forever; or that I buy certain household gifts now that I have a good job… because its the only way my dad will let me — if I wrap a bow on it and call it a birthday present ;)), but the notion that it is my responsibility? Nope.

        And I say this as someone who has watched her parents over the last 3 decades be schoolteachers, work for airlines, real estate agent, bus driver, limo driver, municipal employee, etc. etc. etc. — they work their ass off, have been striking union workers and scabs, they’ve taken computer classes, adjusted to “email” and other technologies that are challenging — because that is what responsible adults do. Just like I hope to one day have a family that I can care for and leave something to after my departure, not have kids like it’s 1850 and they will have to care for me in my golden years, because they don’t.

      19. Amen Wendy!!! I’m so surprised that people seem to be ok with potentially destroying your own life/household to save someone who should be able to save themselves, or at least look into programs and assistance.

        The LW just asserts that the dad is on the verge of homelessness, but what does that mean? It seems like she is trying to catch him before he even falls… where is he staying now? It doesn’t sound like he is on the street, so what is DAD’s plan to help himself?? Maybe if Dad was a little more proactive, and appreciative of the fact that his daughter and SIL supported him for a year but now have dreams of their own when it comes to starting a business, it wouldn’t be so bad. I would really love to know more about the relationship between the LW, husband and family. My guess is that this isn’t the first time the LW and husband have been in rescue mode, which could certainly cause resentment.

  14. Jersey9000 says:

    Lots of questions about this one, mostly to do with the relationship between your husband and your father. Do they get along? If not, why not? Does he feel like he was taken advantage of my your father during that 20K year? Did you guys try to warn your father about making poor choices when he sunk all that time into your half sister? Did your half sister get all the money/attention, and he feels that you are being used to help pick up the pieces? What has your father done to find a job lately? Temp agency, employment agencies, etc etc? Walmart? Has he been someone who is known for spending more than he had in the past? You say he lost his job four years ago. That’s a long time to be unemployed. Did he lie around until the cash ran out? If some of the above are true, I could see your husband’s point. I know my mother did nothing to prepare for her eventual time without a job (and didn’t do much for any of us when we were growing up), and there wouldn’t be much sympathy for me on that end- I don’t think that makes me a jerk.

  15. My youngest sister is 41, and has probably realistically worked about 3 years total in her life. She has a serious health condition that prevented her from working for about 2 years, but it did not prevent her from working the rest of her life. By the time she was 30, she had never worked at any job longer than one paycheck. She spent a lot of her life on welfre even though she is able-bodied, something that my family considers shameful (DUH!). She has been in constant conflict with every employer, having brought frivolous grievances against many of them, and having been fired from almost every job she’s had since age 30. She as been in constant conflict with everyone in the family, culminating this Xmas in her ruining the holiday and telling me and my sister she is cutting all ties with us. She is unbalanced, mean, and hurts everyone including herself. She has not changed or matured since she was a teenager, and no one can tell her anything or make her do anything to change. In 08, my parents lost about 1/4 of their retirement nest egg, and had to cancel several life-long retirement plans, including a trip to Australia. Since then, my sister is into them for about 30K, which they will never see again. As executor, I have been instructed to take the 30K from my sister’s share of the estate, but since Mom will outlive Dad and is the enabler, this will not likely happen. Those of you who say that you back family above all need to try living with someone who does not act in good faith and who uses her family shamelessly before you are quick to judge. The “support” my sister has received throughout her life has not helped her, but it has hurt my parents. I’m not greedy – if my parents spend their money so be it, but why should my sister get a free ride when she doesn’t make a decent effort at life?

    The dad here got a free ride for a year and did not sort his life out. There is no reason to think things will get better if he continues to get a free ride. If I was the LWs husband, I would react the same way. I work hard to build my life and need my home to be my domain. Temporary is one thing, but this doesn’t look like it has an end. I would support all kinds of help for the Dad, but NOT having him live in.

    For the record, I have been left to sink or swim in a bad economy, and lived below the poverty line until I was about 30. My parents lost their businesses and house and moved 2000 miles away when I was 20. They could not help at the time. I took loans and help from people, worked hard wherever I could, and paid back every dime. I worked several minimum wage manual labour jobs after I got my Master’s. I did what I had to do. Having no choice is a stern but effective teacher. Jobs are hard to come by, but that’s life.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I agree. I don’t see dad moving in for a few months while he found a job. I think he would move in and be there permanently.

    2. I think this is why we need more information. The rules are not the same across the board and LW doesn’t really specify, as I read it, if the father is like your sister or more like… well, your father! My family is very similar to yours –with a younger sister who is a taker and my parents who have worked hard their whole lives. I would not and do not bail my sister out because it is a bottomless pit and it doesn’t help her get on her feet. However I would bail my father out in a second. He has worked hard his whole life, supported everyone, and deserves to retain his dignity even in the face of a cruel and unsympathetic job market.

    3. I completely agree with you here. My sister is a freeloader too. I work my ass off and it drives me batty to hear that she is soliciting money to pay for her 6 month old son’s heart surgery (even though the military is paying for it) and she is pregnant with her 3rd child even though doctors told her NOT to get pregnant after her 1st son’s birth. And she is “borrowing” money from both my mom and her in-laws on a monthly basis because her husband’s military pay isn’t enough and they “agreed” she wouldn’t work until the kids were in school. Like she’s ever held a job for longer than a month in the first place.

  16. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    How about looking into public housing. They base the rent on your income and he has none so it should be incredibly low. Low enough you could give him the money for it. He could also get food stamps and then you could supplement his grocery bill and that would go a long way toward meeting his basic needs. Many states are making it almost impossible to receive welfare but they do still provide public housing and food stamps. This would make supporting your dad affordable without needing to move him into your house. Realistically, he wouldn’t be moving in for just a few months. Your prior experience shows that it would be long term and very possibly that it would be permanent.

    I don’t think your husband is being rude or mean by saying enough is enough. There is no end in sight for your dad’s unemployment and the two of you have some obligation to maintain your business and to save for your own retirement. $20,000/year would be a nice sum to put away and allow to grow for retirement. You can’t destroy your own future trying to save your dad from his current life but it also isn’t emotionally acceptable to let him be homeless. That’s why I think public housing might be a good solution for you. It cuts your financial contribution drastically and keeps dad off the street.

  17. LW take it from someone who is in this situation. DO NOT ALLOW HIM TO MOVE IN!!!! I was in this already. My husbands whole family isnliving with us now. His mother, brother, and father. His mom moved in to get away from the father and than when he got evicted she convinced us to let him stay for a week. Well that week turned into 2 going on 3 yrs and our lives are absolute hell. It will start to destroy your life you built with your husband. It will lead to constant fighting, stress and aggravation and a huge financial strain. Tell your dad that you are sorry but financially you can not afford him living with you and you wish him best of luck. Trust me, it iw not worth the trouble. And once you allow him to move in, you will need to go to court to have him evicted. This is what we are going thru right now. Please please please side with your husband on this….i wish i had, instead of listening to his mom and believing he had actually changed his ways.

    1. Right now I am listening to my FIL verbally abuse my MIL and complain about how horrible his life is meanwhiele he is the cause of it…..OMG I can not what till he gets thrown outta here…..

  18. I certainly wouldn’t let one of my parents be homeless, but I also wouldn’t have spent $20,000 to support one of them. I think the problem here is that the LW has shown her husband that she has no boundaries when it comes to her father and her father has supported the LW’s claim that he may not ever leave their home if he moves in. The LW needs to be careful before she turns into her father — helping family members at risk of her own financial ruin — because missing out on $20,000 in, I don’t know, retirement savings, children’s college savings, whatever, is really bad, especially when you are downsizing your incomes. I don’t really have any good advice because having a timeline is not really going to work out if he doesn’t actually meet it or believe that it will be enforced.

    I don’t really have any good advice, except that if the LW does let her dad move in, she should not start showering him with other amenities. Keep a running tally on the fridge of what he “owes” for food or whatever (even if it never gets collected), insist that if he isn’t working that he’s volunteering (maybe he’ll pick up some skills that could get him a job?), etc. I imagine that being able to assert herself in some way may make her husband more OK with it.

    1. OH. I just had an idea that may be completely ridiculous. Is there anything in your new business that you could “hire” your dad for part-time? Not necessarily for the money aspect, but so he has something to put on his resume. It’s a lot easier to get a job when you have one…

      (I hope this isn’t dishonest. If he’s doing actual work, I don’t see how it would be…)

      1. It is a good idea.

  19. I wish you had told us a bit more about your dad and his history with employment and with family relationships. But based on what you’ve said, I don’t read it the way Wendy reads it.

    My heart bleeds for you and, frankly, for your dad. Your description doesn’t sound like one of a mooch who is too lazy to work. It sounds like a soft-hearted man who bails out his own daughter in exchange for financial ruin. A man like that may not have a head for business and the rat race required for getting ahead.

    I also know that the job market is NOT kind to men at a certain age. My own father, who made a very good living for decades, found himself out in the cold for a YEAR after an unexpected lay-off. He too had countless business contacts, old colleagues, men in the highest levels of business –and one by one those leads fell through. There was always someone cheaper or younger. My dad also bears the burden of bailing out my sister from time to time, lest she lose the mortgage and the roof over her head and the head of her son (his only grand-child). It’s a heart-breaking position. Fortunately for him, he was able to sell stocks, live off of savings, and stay the course until something came up. He took a new job and 6 months later, another lay-off. Luckily the second stretch of unemployment didn’t last as long and he found something in a few months. Fingers crossed this one sticks.

    I don’t blame your husband for his feelings and I don’t know of a better solution but there comes a time when there is no choice. When it comes to my sister (or your half-sister from what you’ve said), I can see following Wendy’s advice. There is no point in bailing her out because she doesn’t appreciate it and doesn’t change. It’s a path to misery and resentment. However, with my parents, it’s another matter. These are hard-working, proud people who wouldn’t take a hand-out unless desperate. And even if they NEVER pulled themselves out of the pit (imagine if one of them was terminally ill, for example), I wouldn’t turn my back on them. They have NEVER turned theirs on mine. You know?

    If my father-in-law were to move in, I would loathe it. Because I loathe him. He’s sleezy, unkind, and condescending. But I would do it for my HUSBAND. Because that’s his father and because his heart could not bear it if he suffered.

    1. WJS

      It’s the first time I am at such odd with Wendy’s advice.

  20. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”(Genesis:2:24). I don’t usually go around quoting the bible but I think there’s a lot of wisdom in this.Your spouse has to come first. Even if it’s really hard.That’s what marriage is.

    1. In what way though? Your spouse comes first no matter what? Their wants trump everyone else’s needs? I’m not a fan of absolutes and I think it does turn on what kind of dad he was, what kind of life has he led? If he is just a taker then fine – that is one thing. But if he is just down on his luck – as so many good people are – then that is a different thing altogether.

  21. FossilChick says:

    I think the LW needs to get past the idea that letting her father move in is the only way to “help”. The LW left a successful career and her husband has built a business. Do they have any contacts? Again, if the dad was a good worker until he fell on hard times, they wouldn’t jeopardize their own reputations by recommending him. Does he have any computer skills? If not, teach him, or find a community class. Is he on LinkedIn, or is he still looking for jobs in the Classifieds? Does he have a professional wardrobe that’s appropriate today or is everything from the 80s? These are ways they could help and spend a small amount of money that could have a high impact, assuming the dad wants to work. I don’t understand why the options are “let him move in, possibly permanently, and financially support him” or “nothing”.

    Basically, if he’s trying everything and things with the last job went down like the LW understands, I’m with the LW. If the “restructuring” and the “contacts” and the “supporting deadbeat half-sister” are facades to cover up grade-A mooching, I’m with the husband.

  22. MissSally says:

    Wow. What an awful situation, LW.

    I’m guessing there’s some guilt, or at least regret, because you invested so much in your father before (literally and figuratively), and it was just a Band-Aid – it didn’t help improve his situation today. I hope you have a good friend to talk to about this, or another relative … and even sharing with your husband WHY you feel the way you do may spark some suggestions by him about how you two can help in a more lasting way.

  23. Today's LW says:

    Hi. Today’s LW. First of all, thanks for reading and responding. Second, to clarify a couple of questions:

    1. This is not a new situation for my father, unfortunately. It’s just new that I’m the person who he is turning to this time. My father’s current situation is a result of being in a relatively unstable field with a high turnover rate and that has been shrinking and going online for years. My father hasn’t really adapted, or tried too hard to adapt, and now he’s older and the market is flooded with younger (and cheaper) applicants and he is trying to compete with all of them. He says he should branch out, but hasn’t really made much of an effort to do so, although I have been talking with him about how to do that and have helped him come up with concrete steps to do it. I’ve also tried to direct my father toward federal aid and the like. Limited success so far, but we are working on it.

    2. My husband feels like my father and his side of my family have no boundaries and take advantage of me, and that has long been a source of contention between them, although everyone gets along. There isn’t any personal hatred or anything. His concern is that once my father moves in, he will never move out, end date or not, and then where are we. It’s honestly not an invalid concern.

    1. I am glad you have clarified some of this. #2 sounds like my FIL. Keep helping him the way you are, but pleawe do not give in and allow him to move in. Because your husbands concerns are real, and he is probably correct that end date or no end date, once he is there it will be very hard to get him to leave.

    2. Lemongrass says:

      You both have legitimate arguments, what you need to do is find out where you can compromise. You can’t give him a room but you can help him find affordable housing, apply for different types of jobs, etc. talk with your husband about what he is willing to do to help and then once you are on the same page have a very clear talk with your dad about the resources you have to help him ‘help himself’. Your goal is not to support him it is to help him become independent and he needs to know that if he isn’t hustling to make it happen then you WILL cut him off. If you already had these talks back with the apartment then there is your answer. I totally get not wanting your dad on the streets but if he ends up there it is himself that got him there. He may need to hit rock bottom.

    3. glad for the clarification as well- i change my mind then. do what wendy says- help him from a far at the same time you keep yourself a priority. as they say on airplanes, you gotta put your own oxygen mask on before you help others.

    4. Yeah, with this information I’m even more on the side of Wendy’s advice. I’m sorry you’re stuck in this situation, but I have a feeling your husband is right on this (& you seem to share this feeling as well, if you’re describing his concerns as “not invalid”)

      I know you’ll feel like a shitty person, but there are other ways to help your father besides moving him into a spare room of your marital home.

    5. LW – thanks for reading along and providing some additional detail. I can only imagine how hard it is to read people’s reactions to something so personal.

      Now, this part of your reply raised some alarm bells for me: “His concern is that once my father moves in, he will never move out, end date or not, and then where are we. It’s honestly not an invalid concern.” It does sound like you have some issues with boundaries in your family and are aware that it is a concern, and aside from how this particular situation turns out, it would be very helpful for you to figure this out and find out how to create an independent you without making you feel like you can’t eat or sleep. I usually recommend reading as a step towards counseling — which I think would be warranted in your situation – so I suggest looking into “Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life” or a similar book to maybe help get some perspective.

      It’s not wrong to want to help, but it is wrong when you end up getting to a point where you can no longer help yourself.

    6. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Thanks for writing in, LW. Sadly, this additional information only makes your husband’s fears more justified, I fear…

    7. Your father’s lack of “doing something” is better translated as a way to manipulate you into letting him move in. He’s orchestrating his own crisis.

  24. Sorry about my spelling guys. I respond via my phone…and I have yet to figure out how to get it to spell chk/auto correct.

  25. Friend of Beagles says:

    I’m curious whether all of the pearl-clutching “I would NEVER!” posters have had a relative move in. It is HARD. It is invasive. Even a benign person in the midst of your formerly peaceful household generates some resentment, despite everyone’s best intentions; throw in some friction points (e.g., no set moving out date) and the situation can destroy multiple relationships. WWS, and especially WBIW said. I still feel guilty that my memories of my grandfather, who lived with us for years when I was a kid, are not as affectionate as I wish they were, and I know it was especially hard on my mom (he was her dad).

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I haven’t had to take in a parent yet, but I imagine how difficult it would be. I can imagine the strain it would put on your family and everything you are saying. Still, I just can’t fathom allowing my parents to be homeless. I’ve gotten some flack on here before about helping family that doesn’t help themselves. I get the argument, really I do, but I still help.

    2. i have lived with a relative, and it *can* suck, or it can have elements that suck, but i would still do it if someone needed the help.

      we talked about this once related to kids after they graduate college and if/when/how to let them stay home while they look for work or whatever, and i think the same rules apply… are the parents enablers? are the children lazy, un-motivated “takers”? what is the relationship dynamic between everyone? ect. its not cut and dry no matter what.

      i guess for me, i cant fathom not helping out my family in need because i dont have any enablers/takers or any of the toxic relationships that they create in my own family… so its not even a question. of course i would help them, let them stay at my house, and in turn they would put in the necessary work to become independent once more.

    3. Hee, “pearl-clutching”. Never heard the term before, and it made me laugh.

      1. RangerChic says:

        We had my sister and her two kids move in with us (my husband and our two children) in a three bedroom house when things got really bad for my sister (abusive husband). And though I would do it again (depending on who the person needing help is) one of the happiest days of my life was when she moved out. I love her and her kids to pieces but it was invasive, it was hard, a LOT harder than I thought it would be…I mean she is my sister, right? She helped out where she could, mostly cleaning stuff since she had no money (she worked a full time job for just above min wage).

        There are things I would do differently – like have a plan and an end date and what happens at the end date if the person can’t move out. She was with us 6 months. After she moved out I didn’t speak to her for about 4-6 weeks because I had let some things build up and I was angry. But I let all that stuff go…after all she began making improvements in her life and is currently in school to make a better life for her family.
        Just my experience, I know it is different than the LW. I feel your husbands fears are warranted so I wouldn’t let him move in as hard as that is.

    4. Exactly. Even a benign guest wears on anyone after only a short while. My Dad lived with us for two weeks once while the folks were preparing to move back to my city (look for a house, etc). Sex life = zero. Parties and friends = close to zero. Autonomy, Freedom, Privacy = zero. Playing my guitar = zero. TV remote = heavily disputed. When you wake up, he’s there. Get home from work, he’s there. ETC.

      My dad and I are friends. He has helped me substantially when he could. We hang out, play cards, go fishing, etc. Of course, i would never refuse him this type of need. And yet by the end of two weeks I was going out of my freakin’ mind. Substitute someone who is using you and will likely be there permanently? Not a chance.

  26. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    Firestar, I meant that if the husband has such strong feelings about his FIL living with them that he has threatened to move out, the wife honor her husband’s needs first.

    1. Yes the husband gave an ultimatum but my point was that doesn’t mean it trumps everything as of right. If the dad is a vampire then opening their home is probably a bad idea but that should not shut down the conversation or SUPPORT you are supposed to give your spouse as they deal with something as devastating as a parent being homeless. This was not a place for an ultimatum – the LW doesn’t seem blind to her father’s failings. This was the time for solutions and compromise. Not for the father in law but for the WIFE.

      1. i completely agree. the husband majorly dropped the ball in this situation, i think.

        also, he was willing to pay more then some people’s salaries to keep him out of his house.. to me that reads that he just wanted to throw money at the issue until it went away. he never actually helped to address the real issue, and now that it has cropped up again, he isn’t helping to support her/this situation… hes just not helping at all, really

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Excellent point. Makes me feel even worse for the LW.

      3. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        WTF? The Husband DROPPED the ball… Um, try the father… Again, the reactions here simply astound me….

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Not saying the father didn’t drop the ball too. At first (before the update from the LW), it sounded like dad was trying hard. I did suspect she left out info because of her wanting us to be on her/dad side, which turned out to be true.
        What I agree with is that this clearly is a huge issue that the LW is dealing with. It’d be nice if the husband, rather than just throw $ dad’s way (which is extremely nice), helped his wife find another way to help dad. Not only would it be nice for him to help his wife, it’d benefit him as well.

      5. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Somehow, I suspect the husband did try other things BEFORE throwing away that twenty grand. Somehow, I very much suspect the twenty grand was a last ditch effort… Look, the father has ALWAYS been this way it seems… How exactly is the husband supposed to magically fix this person? We always say you can’t even “fix” people you are in love with… So how the hell is he supposed to fix the father of the person he is in love with? Sorry, but those of you who feel this way all have hopelessly unrealistic expectations…

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Um, we have no clue whether that’s true or not.

        And we only recently learned the father has always been this way, so its pretty hard to judge all the comments before that fact was shared through the LW’s update.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        And more to my point, I’d hope my husband would help me figure out any issue I was dealing with. Whether fruitless or not, yes, I’d expect that from my spouse. But you chose to totally ignore that point. No surprise there.

      8. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        WTF are you even talking about? You are so projecting onto the husband. There is no proof that he ISN’T helping her figure out this issue. He just (WISELY) has put his foot down about her father moving in with them indefinitely… Remember, the twenty thousand dollar thing blew up and got out of control because it was supposed to be temporary… It was supposed to be only for a few weeks and somehow STRETCHED to a year… A whole, long year… The husband IS a saint here. No wonder his patience is at an end.

        Moreover, as I don’t think the LW can magically fix her father and so there is NOTHING to figure out. The father won’t get a job. He won’t go on government assistance… He won’t help himself… To say the husband somehow dropped the ball here is so grossly unfair it’s simply ludicrous…

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        I’ll never learn.
        Anyway, if you’ve read any of my comments on here, I say how I think the husband was generous, among other things. In fact, I was the first to say he wasn’t a jerk.
        Saying it would be good if the husband would try to come up with other ideas to help his wife is not saying the husband is a jerk. Even if its a fruitless effort, its nice to support your spouse and help them.
        Not sure what you think I’m projecting.

      10. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        It astounds me how strange our debates become. The ONLY issue here I am addressing is your stance that the husband somehow dropped the ball as well. I simply don’t agree with that at all. And that’s what ALL of my comments in this small line of them has been about…

      11. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        We don’t know that this husband hasn’t offered various solutions. We know that the wife wants to solve this by moving dad in with them and the husband says no. We know that dad says no to government aid but doesn’t mind living off of his daughter. We know that dad hasn’t always tried as hard as he could and hasn’t made the attempt to be competative. The SIL can’t force his FIL to do these things. If they have been suggested and his FIL turned them down then what can he do but say no you can’t move in with us. I think the boundary here is critical.

      12. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        How is it not addressing the issue? He was going to be homeless…they prevented that and he got a job and should have been self sufficient, making sure to save money to help prevent the issue. The LW also admits that her father has been resistant to doing what he needs to do to better his chances at getting a job and filling out the paperwork to get government assistance. Letting him move in will solve the homeless issue, but not the rest…and create new issues that the husband doesn’t want. Even the LW admits that her husbands hesitations aren’t inaccurate. She agrees with him.

      13. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:


      14. @katie – but what if the husband thought that the situation was going to be more temporary, and then it turned into a year? It seems like he has been down this road before and is very hesistant to keep giving, because eventually he is going to run out of things to give. They were as supportive as they could be before, trying to ensure that there was some independence and their marriage was intact — but with the new business, why should the husband have to keep sacrificing for a grown man who won’t take care of his career or do things to try and make it in a changing environment??

  27. Sophronisba says:

    LW, you and your husband have done more than enough for your dad, probably too much. Surely it isn’t really your job to help him grow up and deal with his life, although I can understand that it would be flattering to have him turn to you for advice and assistance. However, if dear old dad is just going “Uh-huh, yeah, I should do that” and not actually taking any concrete steps or heeding any good advice, then your husband is perfectly correct to bar him from the house because he is crossing boundaries and taking advantage of you (and you are letting him).

  28. Stop the damned cycle now.

    Your husband is right, and the both of you did WAY MORE than you should have the last time.

    It was your father’s choice to help your half-sister as much as he did. Because he helped her, it strained him financially to the point that it helped cause his homelessness. Had he not helped her financially, he could have supported himself while he was jobless. Where is this sister now? Why isn’t she paying him back? Exactly. She used your father and ran off. She isn’t going to come back until he has money.
    This is what Dear ‘Ol Dad is doing to you. You are too close to the situation to see it.

    You spent over $20,000 in a YEAR (while your dad was working some of that time) supporting your father in his own fucking apartment. While he worked, you paid. Did he save a dime of that? Did he pay off any debts? What the fuck did he do with his money?
    He has gotten comfortable with the idea that his daughter (and her husband) will save him every time he thinks he’s in trouble, much like your half-sister relies on HIM in the same way. You are a cash cow and crash pad.

    My SO’s father is the same way. An alcoholic (now many years sober), and a pill-popper; his apartment was being sold and he needed a place to stay temporarily since he couldn’t afford the security deposit and pet deposit on a new place. So, I agreed to allow him to move in with us. He stayed for a year. It was miserable. He moved only when my pill counts started going off. Not by a couple a week, but by 8-10 a DAY (my RX for his drug of choice is 4/day). I flat out said that if so much as a single pill went missing again, I would report it to the police because I was required to by law (both for my pain clinic contract AND my employment contract). He got indignant, claimed I was a controlling bitch and pulled $2500 together within a week to move to CO to live with his parents. Funny how he could get the money together for that when he didn’t have the $2000 for an apartment for a year.

    Tough love is still love. Being homeless isn’t a bad thing. It can make a person work harder to achieve what they need to in order to become a productive member of society again.

  29. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Wow. This is so unexpected. In the showdown between the great husband who has stoodby and already ponied up $20,000, and the father who can’t hold a job but instead keeps endlessly stringing his daughter along with his bogus business contacts — a surprising number on here somehow view the husband as the jerk.

    Good lord. You are a strange sex. No wonder so many guys DON’T want to get married.

    Frankly, I really am genuinely surprised by this. What is it? Daddy issues? Would the reactions be any different if it was instead the husband’s mother who wanted to move in permanently? Because THAT’S what this situation truly is. The father will pretty much be living with them for the REST OF HIS LIFE. You can bittergaymark my words on that…

    Wendy is one hundred percent RIGHT on this issue. Anybody who disagrees with her is just plain wrong.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Mark, you’re so close with your family, from what I’ve read on here. Would you truly be able to turn them away? I think that’s what people are struggling with.

      1. I think the issue for me becomes do I put my family before my marriage. I don’t think anyone is saying forget the Father completely. There are things you can do for them rather than bring them in to your home.

        And someone above said it is far different to imagine living with family, rather than doing it. My Great Grandmother lived with my Grandparents (she was a case of too sick to live on her own) and it took a lot out of both her and my Grandfather. I think they both aged 10 years in the months that she spent with them.

        I also think you can go about it in a smart way. As much as we all want to help we can do it to the detriment of ourselves. So, boundaries do have to be created. There need to be timelines and decisions on contributions to the household, etc. It might seem cold, but just like anything else if you don’t communicate up front the only thing that will lead to is confusion and people getting hurt feelings.

        And I say this as someone who is extremely close to my family!

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I hear you and the others, and I think Lili is spot on that it can depend on the situation. While I haven’t had to do it myself, I’ve seen the situation play out before and it can also be a lovely thing. Of course, depends on the family though.

      3. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        As my own family is all doing INFINITELY better than me — this is a hard question for me to get my head around. Look, my parents own two fabulous homes (Lake Cabin in Minnesota, Golf Course Ranch House in Arizona) outright and, even as I type this, are presently sailing the Panama Canal in a balcony cabin on a 16 day cruise…

        If anything, I recognize that I am doomed to be like the deadbeat father in twenty years… (And with no kids to descend on… Yikes.) Which is totally why I am so down on him in this ver case. As we all hate those who best personify the major flaws that we all know are within ourselves…

    2. I’m on the same side as you, but why on earth do you have to make this yet another issue about Women(tm)? I’ve known just as many guys with major family boundary issues. How would you respond to this letter if it was about the husband’s dad?

      1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Um, I would say the same exact thing… Same exact thing… Look, I only flipped the sexes here because, typically, when people have problems with their in=laws… it the one that is the same sex as them that DRIVES them the most crazy… Since the father-in-law seemingly irks the husband… and most of the commenters here mad at the husband are women… (Actually, has a single make DWer disagreed with the husband here? I think not.) …I used the mother in law example as God knows we have had enough stories about mother-in-laws on here…

      2. Then please, read the rest of the comments to see how many FEMALE commenters are on the same side as you. “You are a strange sex” is just an ignorant statement and there’s a lot of confirmation bias in it. Your eyes are skimming right over the women who are taking the husband’s side and zeroing in on the ones taking the father’s side.

      3. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Um, I already did. It seems to me that more comments here favor the father over the husband.

      4. I suspect it’s multiple comments from some of the biggest supporters of Team Dad making the mass look bigger, but I could be wrong. I didn’t count. It seems like both sides are pretty well represented to me, along with suggestions of middle-ground solutions.

      5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        It seemed to me that those who were married were the ones (besides yourself) saying don’t let him move in and those who were single who were saying let him stay with you. Those who are married knew what a strain it would be while those who are single see is as more hypothetical.

      6. Look, I don’t want to harp, but I think it drives me extra crazy because you so often have really good things to say, and then you adorn it with “women suck” and it makes me think much less of you. You as a person, not as a sex. Is it supposed to be a comical schtick? You’re bright enough, and have been here so long, that I don’t think you’re an actual troll. But I’ve found that when I read a Dear Wendy letter, I can pretty much always count on a misogynistic rant from you about 2/3 of the way down the comment thread.

      7. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        The fact remains that the majority of female posters here are presently siding with the father and a surprising number are even calling the husband a jerk… Sorry, but to me — that IS very strange. And I stand by my statement such a thing makes me label you today a strange sex. Perhaps, if women en mass stopped behaving so strangely, I would finally be able to change my tune. Frankly, the fact that ANYBODY would brand the husband a jerk in this situation — he;s happily blown twenty thousand dollars on this deadbeat — much less the majority simply strikes me as very strange. Beyond that actually.

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        For christssake, I think 2 people might have called him a jerk, and countless replied to those comments saying he isn’t.

      9. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Whatever. A majority DO fault him for NOT opening up his home… Including you, it seems. He’s dropped the ball and blah blah blah…

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        You really should read all my comments, because none of what you are saying I said is accurate, so this is pointless.
        You are basing my entire stance on me saying the husband should help the wife find other options because spouses should be able to lean on each other.
        I love your estimates though. They are always on point. 😉 Are we even reading the same comments?! Bizarre.

      11. I don’t think the majority sided with the father. But, I think that the issue is that those who did, are imagining themselves in that position, with their own parents who likely have their shit together way more than the LW’s father. People who have healthy relationships with their parents likely have a hard time imagining how mooching and manipulative a parent can be.

      12. WRS.

      13. WRS

      14. ACTUALLY BGM. In the 39 separate commenters above this post where it was clear what their stance is, not including the men and also not including Wendy, there were 24 who were AGAINST the dad moving in and supported the husband’s point of view, and 15 who supported having the dad move in and thought the husband was in the wrong.

      15. (assuming all those whose gender I don’t know are women)

      16. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Fine, I stand corrected. I guess its just that the 15 who were for it were simply so much more vocal and had more multiple posts… That said, it’s hard to track when everybody posts here, so who knows what the count was when I initially posted this? With a swing vote of nine that is a pretty narrow margin as can change so rapidly. Frankly, I wish wendy would somehow include POLLS with each thread, but I see how that would be difficult to do as such polls are often NOT relevant to the letters…

      17. Challenge accepted. Of the 39 I counted, 34 of those weighed in before your comment, with 14 of those being for the father moving in and 20 of them being in the husband’s corner.

      18. lets_be_honest says:

        I wonder if the 14 in favor of dad moving in were just people saying they couldn’t let their dad be homeless, which I think is slightly different. I don’t think I could let my dad be homeless, but I also think that the LW (and her dad, really) should be trying different ways to make him not homeless.

      19. You are correct, LBH. If someone said “I couldn’t imagine having my dad live on the streets”, I counted them in the ‘for the dad moving in’ column. For example, that was where I had you. So actually, I think it trends even more to those who think the husband is in the right.

      20. But for the purposes of the impression it might have given, I did put all those people in the ‘for the dad’ column.

      21. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Fine. I was wrong. I do so hope I have made your day as it seems that I have. I was off by six. Sue me. Now go and count the number of sentences that were pro dad versus pro husband. And yes, I would like a word count.

        At any rate, the fact that is was even so close STILL leaves me confused… I honestly don’t think it would be even remotely close if this had been posted on say, DETAILS magazine’s site or PLAYBOY online…

      22. Well, you said “The fact remains that the majority of female posters here are presently siding with the father”, not that you thought it was even. So more than 6.

      23. Also, I would note that a number of “pro-Dad” responders have changed their minds, after the LW’s update. So the gap is probably a bit wider than 6 at this point…

      24. ele4phant says:

        Agreed. It’s clear that its not just bgm vs everyone else. There is widespread disagreement, with lots of just as many women on the same page as him as those against him.

        Furthermore more women read this site than men – but I’m sure if the readership was split more evenly between genders we’d see plenty of men favoring the dad.

        It amazes me how often he makes something a gender thing.

      25. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Honestly, I don’t think very many men would ever write in saying that somebody’s father-in-law should be able to move in with a married couple rent free for an indefinite period of time. I simply don’t. For starters, has even one man on here as of yet said that? I think not.

      26. Maybe women are just more sensitive and loving toward their families and men are ready to drop their parents at the drop of a hat. Probably because they have issues.

        (For what it’s worth, I totally don’t think the dad should move in, and I’m a girl. I also don’t believe my statement above. But if we’re going to stereotype, let’s do it all the way around!)

      27. ele4phant says:

        Eh maybe. But aside from your hunch you really have no way to back that up – and it can be proven that the majority of commenters here (who also happen to be women) don’t feel the husband is in the wrong. So for you to paint all women as having daddy issues is absurd.

        And frankly I’m not even sure youre right. While this may be one example my Bf bends over backward constantly for his parents in ways I never would. That’s his family and his choice – but the burden I’ve seen him shoulder out of filial duty has at times overwhelmed him.

    3. Mark,

      This isn’t just about women. In my case, my male SO was/is the enabler. A lot of children have a hard time imagining their parents as manipulative, cheating, deadbeats. It has nothing to do with “Daddy Issues”. “Parent Issues”, maybe, but let’s not just label this with gender-specifics here. Parents of both sexes are manipulative, and are capable (and willing) of manipulating their children (of both genders) into thinking that the situation they are in is worse than it is, and completely not their fault and to be totally pitiable.
      Spouses (of both genders) are sometimes more able to see things without the rose-colored glasses. Sometimes, they see things with the perspective-tinting that slants things negatively. Each person is his/her own unique individual to see the situation. This is why communication and compromise is key in relationships. The LW really needs to take her husband’s opinion to heart and open her eyes and see her father for who he really is. Not just her “Daddy”, not her “parent”, but as a human being. Flawed and human.
      She should be reaching out to siblings (half and whole) to discuss the situation completely with them to ensure that Daddy Dearest doesn’t play ANY of the siblings as she’s been played, to be proactive in helping Daddy get back to his full potential instead of scamming some more. Or, realize that Daddy has probably been a scammer his whole damned life. Whichever the case may be, the time for illusions is over.

    4. GatorGirl says:

      Goodness Mark, really? A few people said they would support a parent unconditionally and now you understand why men don’t want to get married because we all have daddy issues?? What!??

      9 times out of 10, I really enjoy your no nonsense comments, but the continued bashing of women has got to stop. If someone was consistently making comment about how all men were X or all gays were X- I’m pretty sure you’d raise a stink about it. So please, stop constantly degrading my gender. Please stop categorically lumping half of our race together and calling us crazy. Please stop acting like a jerk.

  30. I think something as weighted as this issue really needs to be a case by case basis. I think Wendy had the perfect answer FOR THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE. Now, that doesn’t mean EVERY SINGLE TIME should it happen as she advises, because lets face it, not everyone is the same as this LW and her father. Now, my own father is a wonderful responsible man who has helped me as an adult out when he really ‘had no obligation’ to, and with all that said, he is so responsible that he is planning for a future and retirement and all that, and should it really come down to him needing me and my ( future/hypothetical) husband’s help, I’d provide it without hesitation because to be crude about it, some MAJOR shit must have gone down to bring that man to this sad situation. But thats just in regards to MY DAD. I have a friend who has had a alcoholic in and out of jail homeless father, I don’t judge her for not helping him. He has his own issues. She made the right choice in doing what she did. Also, as a single gal, my husband is a hypothetical, where as my dad is a real life solid good loving man. And I now realize how important it is to have this kind of discussion before marriage, with regards to both our parents. So, while I do kinda see where some people are getting all upset, its really just a personal case by case assessment. In this case, the LW needs to give her dad a dose of reality and provide him in kind help, not just $ after $.

    On a side note, I think situations like this really illustrate that we as a society (i’m talking about America here mainly) need to re-assess what we think it means to help someone out. I get that its easier to throw money at the problem, but really our time,knowledge and skills giving is the best gift anyone can give. If you have the time, donate it to help a migrant worker learn english to get a better job before maybe writing a check to some random org that helps them. Or start donating to places like Kiva Lending, where its all about empowering people rather than giving them handouts 🙂 Ok off the soapbox now.

      1. Thanks! This made my day 🙂 I even called my dad and read him some of it (I know, I am SUCH a daddy’s girl)!

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I agree with Wendy, perfect! And I guess that’s why I commented above that I would never be able to NOT take my father (or any family member in), because they are all such hard-working honest people that, if they needed the help, some major shit must have happened. I have never been in the situation where a family member was a user and an abuser…. so I just don’t get it. But case by case basis is what would need to happen.

    1. I totally agree with you. For the LW, I think she’s already “helped” her dad enough, and tough love is probably in order here.

    2. I agree with this completely and failed to articulate it in my comment above. By now, I’ve read the update and in light of that would rescind my previous comments knowing what I know now, but my initial reaction to this was with my own dad in mind. I didn’t assume that this dad was a deadbeat because I know my own dad had a rough time on the employment front in 2007 and for a couple years after. He was never on the brink of homelessness or anything like that, but he is proof that even responsible, well-educated, always-steadily-employed can suddenly find themselves facing uncertainy, too. I do know that I would have done whatever I could have without batting an eye had he been on the verge of homelessness or otherwise needed help. Almost everything I’ve accomplished is due in large part to his generosity.

      1. Its really hard to not comment with a lot of projection! I know I comment a lot less lately because halfway through It I’ll realize all i’ve done is project my own views/experiences/issues onto the comment, and thats never really helpful to an LW. Its been a real eye opening experience in my ‘real’ life too, to assess what points I make to friends and how they are really just projections of my own issues. Although, add in a few drinks and I’m blunt as hell tactless me. I say what I think, and don’t care how its phrased. EEK!

  31. I like Wendy’s advice. I always think of letting someone move in with you and your spouse like that party guest who never leaves. You know, the last guy who just doesn’t get the hint that the party is over and you’re like I want to take off my pants and relax? Having someone live with you would more often than not be that situation, just long term.
    While I may have a hard time helping my family, I wouldn’t ever let them live with me. When I lived at home, while in high school and part of college, my parents were already asking for money and needing help. I did it, I would max out my tiny credit card and drain my small bank account any time they needed me to. But once I moved out, I realized how messed up that was. (FYI in addition to that, I was paying rent and paying for my own gas and insurance) So, knowing how they drained money out of me then, I would never let them live with me now.
    Luckily my mother realizes we could never live together – too much hatred there – and has never asked, but surely there were some times when she probably should have and I would have felt bad saying no, but I still would have said no. Even though I could have afforded for her to, I just wouldn’t. I guess my reasons are more from general animosity and dislike towards her than guilt about enabling her to freeload, but still, I don’t feel I owe her anything.

  32. Because at first the husband would not allow the dad to move into the house, but would ‘enable’ him in a more expensive way by paying for everything else outside his livelihood just to avoid living with him, makes me think the husband just being a jerk and selfish. I think he is putting up a fight because HE doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. I know it is a big deal to have someone (especially an In-law) move into your house… but we are talking about homelessness here, and that should trump inconvenience. That was just my immediate impression though, and I don’t know that.

    It was a pretty big assumption to make that the dad is truly being “enabled”.. I mean, its possible he is, and it’s hard to imagine none of those opportunities worked out because of bad luck, BUT, this is a crappy economy, and in some areas of the country, this might be realistic for a typically hard working person. There are some friends and family that I know, where if this happened to them, I would be sure it was really because of bad luck, and not because they were lazy, and if i had a spare bedroom in my house (and could afford to feed an extra person), i would let them stay in as long as they needed. Also, the people who truly ‘deserve it’ will do everything in their power to make you feel like they aren’t a nuisance and will help out around the house, look for odd jobs or extra ways to make cash, maybe sell some of their superfluous belongings to help pay bills.

    If your dad really is someone who ‘deserves’ help, don’t back down from your husband. I think there are compromises to be made, put a time limit, require your dad help out with the business, give him projects, make him the designated cook, etc?

    Only the LW can look at the situation and determine if her dad is really deserving of help again, and if her husband is being selfish, or if her husband is really being the sense of reason , and her dad isn’t deserving of help again.

    1. The LW wrote an update, may want to check it out.

    2. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Uh, did you even read the updates? Her dad has ALWAYS been like this…

      1. I’m guilty of not reading every single comment on here before I comment, so I missed the update.

        OK, totally on board with Wendy’s reply in this situation, and the LW’s defense of her husband clarifies his positions and confirms he is not an A-Hole.

  33. brendapie says:

    I feel that LW and her husband have been more than generous and inviting LW’s father into their home would be detrimental in the long term. I completely agree with Wendy that what the father needs now are the tools and emotional support to get him back on his feet.

    I have an uncle who goes in and out of homelessness. He is an alcoholic who was in recovery in the past year but I fear has relapsed again. My parents have worked hard to support our family and have built a comfortable life for themselves. By no means are they rich (they are very much middle class) but their hard work has enabled them to enter their retirement years with financial security. When my uncle divorced his wife many years ago, my parents allowed him to live in their house on the condition of paying rent and contributing towards food and utilities.

    My uncle chose to mooch off my parents and my dad kicked him out of the house. Since then, he has had irregular periods of employment, has lived on the street, become an alcoholic, lost most of his teeth, etc. He is the very picture of the stereotypical homeless man. And my family’s hearts break for him. Yet he refuses our help because we place reasonable conditions on it. He mooched off his wife, mooched off our family, and expects us to cater to all his needs without him as so much lifting one finger. All we want is for him to make an effort towards seeking recovery.

    My mom always cooks for him when he visits and provides him a place to take a nap if he needs it (sometimes he can’t find a safe place to sleep at night). We try to offer him support that goes beyond a place to live. He never wants to take a shower here or shave his beard, which we invite him to do. We give him new clothes and shoes, and find him a warm coat for the winter months. But more importantly we have gotten the paperwork necessary for him to get a new ID card (he carries no form of identification) and to get a new SSN card. He refuses to sign them and when we gave him money to go take a passport photo, he ran off and didn’t return for months (and sans photo).

    It’s hard knowing that a family member is struggling but at some point, enough is enough. Housing LW’s father only serves to enable him and perpetuate his behavior. Helping LW’s father to find government programs to help with job training is what will save him. I wouldn’t turn a family member away on a cold night but when LW and her husband have done so much already, any more financial generosity will only hurt everyone involved in the long run.

    Remember: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

  34. painted_lady says:

    LW, given both your letter and your update in the comments, you most definitely do NOT need to let your father move in. I get the people who say they could never ever leave a parent out in the cold, and while that is such a lovely instinct, I’m not one of those people. I think we all have a right to our own boundaries, and your husband has a right to live as he wishes in his own house. That doesn’t make him a bad person. He sunk $20,000 into making sure your father had a roof over his head. What if he had let your father live with you, and he wanted to borrow $20,000 so he could move out? Somehow letting someone invade your space is seen as less of a commitment and a sacrifice than giving money, and yet, at least for me, it’s precisely the opposite. I can’t afford to lose my sanity. The money I can earn back.

    You have to set boundaries, LW. You will feel like a total dick, because it sounds like you never have before. Putting up boundaries means telling people they can’t do certain things to you anymore, and telling people no always sucks. It sucks extra if you’ve always said yes, because then people expect the yes and feel entitled to it. And when people feel like they’re being denied something they deserve, they get manipulative. You’ve grown up in a family where it sounds like people are expected to give all that they have available, even if it means putting themselves in a bad spot. You don’t have to do that, LW. Learn to say no, and learn that it’s okay to tell people no.

    1. I completely agree with this.

      “Somehow letting someone invade your space is seen as less of a commitment and a sacrifice than giving money, and yet, at least for me, it’s precisely the opposite.” Yes, exactly. I am sympathetic to the LW’s situation, and the fact is that every situation and every family dynamic is unique. However, especially given the extra information from the LW’s update, in this instance I am 100% with Wendy.

  35. spark_plug says:

    I generally agree with the comments of DW’ers, but WOW! Talk about culture differences. I come from an eastern european culture were everything is totally different. You don’t let people be homeless, period, especially when they are family. To us, boundaries are not letting someone go homeless – boundaries are letting that person live with you and making them work for it.

    Coming from this background, I don’t see it as such a big deal. Let your dad move into the spare bedroom and tell him to get a job. A real job.. even if its out of his profession. Maybe let him live with you while he goes back to school to get some relevant training.. in the meantime, make him to chores at home so that he keeps his living somehow.

    Also, I’m going to say that the $20,000 was a bit silly. You could have let you father live at home (probably saved 10-15,000 depending on where you live), make him get a Starbucks like part time job to contribute to his expenses and help out with at home chores.

    At the end of the day, parents may not be perfect and yes, sometimes they even cost money. But they are parents…

    1. temperance says:

      Did you read the update from the LW? Her father is lazy and unmotivated.

  36. AndreaMarie says:

    Sorry but your father needs to deal with the consequences of his poor decisions. He lost his job back when the recession hit. Instead of considering the job market, how bad things were/if it was going to get worse, then add in his age, in order to evaluate his possible time to find a new position and plan accordingly…he blows through his savings and financial safety net on your sister’s problems.

  37. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    I don’t know if any of you watch Parenthood but they just dealt with this very issue in a recent subplot. The husband says no way when the wife wants her mother to move in but the wife railroads him into it against his will and it’s a disaster. The mother-in-law is controlling and disrespectful and when the husband calls her on it, she leaves in a huff and the wife is pissed.Of course, because it’s a family show, everything works out (the wife finds out she’s pregnant and everyone’s happy) but in real life that marriage would have been seriously damaged.

  38. The debates going on here are crazy today. Let me tell you a day in my life and than see if you want people including family to move in with you.
    Wake up to constant yelling, screaming and arguing. Listen to the verbal and emotional abuse. Call cops bc FIL san alcoholic and is threatening to kill you bc he is drunk and you stood up for your husband ( who is working his ass off to keep a roof over everyones head).
    Try to collect the $200 per month rent w/o a major fight erupting. And thos continues all day and night, everyday and night until husband comes home from work. Then all of a sudden they are on their best behavior bc they do not want husband to see what ia going on when he isn’t home (even tho he does and not only do i tell him but i also have tape recorded and video taped it).
    Then cope with the fact that FIL & BIL got into a fight and broke your kitchen cabinets and brand new glass stove top with a bat! And you know what the police said ” There is nothing we can do you need to go to court and have them evicted.
    So if you want to be nice like I did and let them move in instead of listening to husbands advice do so at ur own risk.
    Oh ya and having to stay home and quit ur job bc of all the bs that goes on…..
    And lack of privacy, can not have sex until everybody is in bed, and being at the end of ur rope.
    Again let ppl live with u at ur own risk!

    1. I hope all the people saying, “But you don’t turn your back on FAMILY!!!” read this.

  39. I’m seriously astounded. Not by the LW’s feelings of conflict (totally understandable). And not by Wendy’s response (which I 100% agree with). But by the commenters who think the LW and husband would be cruel to not continue to bankroll a grown ass man who has a history of leaning too heavily on family members (see LW comment addition) and who has already drained $20,000 which could’ve gone toward a down payment on a house, a future child’s college fund.

    The only reason I can see for supporting the idea of taking the father back on as a dependent is that some commenters are reading their own experiences/family dynamics into this letter. My parents would never mooch off of me. They would come to me out of absolute desperation, and hell yes, I would take them in because I would know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’d be the right thing to do. But this is not the same. This LW’s father is not my father, who would do whatever it would take to provide for himself, my mom, and my young siblings. He would never be too proud to compromise and pursue a different line of work.

  40. LW, can your dad build or repair stuff? If he has access to tools, he could work as a handyman. Can he qualify for a CDL? As long as he has no DUIs, he could become a short-haul or long-haul truck driver. What can he do on a computer? His skills with that could open up a variety of work.

    My birth father will be 72 next month, and he STILL WORKS!! He’s always been handy and owns lots of tools, so he started working for his brother in construction as well as doing handyman work as a volunteer for his church and for the single/widowed women at church who needed home repairs. The volunteer work turned into a lot of paid work, to the point where he needed to turn down some of it. He works as much as he needs to to pay off some foolish financial decisions that he owns up to, without ever having asked anyone for a handout. Oh, and he lives in a high-unemployment state (Kentucky).

    Either your dad is motivated to work or he isn’t. If he’s not, then don’t enable him. Your and your husband are the family that comes first.

  41. temperance says:

    LW, don’t do it. Respect your husband and your marriage, and let your father get his ass in gear and figure out a plan. I guarantee that he will actually start doing SOMETHING once he has no choice. I’m speaking from experience here (although I’m in your husband’s spot), so I apologize in advance for this lengthy overshare of a comment.

    I’m 29 and have been living with Mr. Temperance for 7 years. His father has tried to move in with us for the past 5 of them after spending a year trying to convince us that he merely wanted to live in our complex (several hours from where he was living and working). It’s gotten so bad with his behavior that he literally does not know where we live, and we’re in a secure building that you can’t get into without a key because he will actually just show up at random hours, uninvited (like 7:00 a.m. when I have a job interview to go to … that happened). We live several hours away from him, btw.

    He was let go from a job 4 or 5 years ago because he’s an ass and he decided that he needed to start a “family business” because “you can’t make money working for somebody else!”. You also can’t make money if you have no marketable skills and you open hobby businesses that you are not qualifed to do. (He tried to market himself as a radio personality, a graphic designer, a sculptor, and a writer … none of which he has any experience actually doing.) He has been telling my fiance since college that once he gets a real job, his father was going to move in because it was time for him to “relax” and my fiance needed to repay the 18 years of support given by his father. He’s said that he would provide childcare for our kids while we worked in exchange for a free place to live so he could be closer to our (non-existent) children.

    There are plenty of issues with his dad that aren’t related to his laziness and lack of motivation. He’s a raging misogynist, and has told me to my face that I’ve taken a grad school spot from a man who needed to support his family. He’s asked me, in front of my fiance, whether my uterus was working because he “needed grandchildren”. He’s given me a sex talk and inquired about our birth control habits. He’s told my fiance numerous times to leave me because I was going to get knocked up and leave him to take all the child support. When my fiance was a kid, he gave him talks about how women are evil, just steal your money, and will cheat on you with younger men while you’re at work.

    So, he doesn’t live with us, and we’ve agreed that he never will. He’s made his bed with his choices and his horrible personality, so he needs to lay in it. Our relationship could not survive that man being in our faces every single day.

  42. quixoticbeatnik says:

    After reading everything, I would definitely say do not let your father move in with you. Only offer him help IF he agrees to all of your conditions attached to the help. While I understand wanting to help your family, in this case you need to focus on you and your husband first. The only person who can make your father change is your father. Sad, but true.

    Although, if I was living with a family member because I’d fallen on hard times (like my parents) you can bet I would be helping out around the house! I’d be cleaning or cooking (well, trying to – I’m not really much of a cook) and I would definitely have a job or be actively trying to look for a job. I think the problem in cases where the family members stay too long and don’t do anything is because there aren’t any rules in place for those situations. There aren’t any deadlines or criteria to meet, which lessens the sense of urgency and “I gotta do this – gotta find a job and a place to live!” It’s hard to feel urgent when things are being taken care of for you.

    Listen to everyone’s advice – I’m sure you will make the right choice. Definitely do not make a choice that goes against your husband’s wishes though. While you have known your dad all your life, you CHOSE to be with your husband and marry your husband, and if you don’t keep that in mind – that marriage is about compromises and trying to make the both of you happy with your choices – that marriage could easily turn into a divorce. Just think long and hard about all of this and good luck!

  43. This is ridiculous. The husband is entirely justified. The Father-In-Law should go sign up for temp jobs, government benefits, etc. There are very few able bodied homeless. The vast majority are either mentally ill, drug addicted, or homeless by choice. Unless the father in law is borderline retarded, he can stay off the streets. He’s just lazy and fails to plan. He’s not some victim.

    This is not just because the Father-In-Law can’t get a job. It’s also because he wasted all his money on the deadbeat half-sister. The husband does NOT have to now effectively pay back the Father-In-Law the money he gave to an able-bodied loser. That was his choice.

    Frankly, there is a huge gender issue here. A lot of the posters are women who say “we have to support family” but they want to do this with their husband’s money. If the original poster’s feelings on the matter are so strong, she can take a second job on the weekends and send her father the proceeds. Or she can dramatically cut her expenses (no new clothes and no dining out for a year, and send her father that money). And if neither of these issues are palatable to her, then I think we know how important supporting her father REALLY is to her. But to whine about how “helping out family is just the right thing to do” as a way of getting her spouse to subsidize her deadbeat father is just emotional manipulation. It may not be deliberate, but that’s what it is. Subsidizing and enabling a parent’s bad behavior is a stupid choice. If she wants to make that choice, fine, but SHE has to make it with HER OWN resources, not with her spouse’s. Yes, yes, yes, it’s all “ours,” but subsidizing deadbeats beyond the original $20,000 is clearly not in the husband’s plan. If the wife now wants to spend money above and beyond what’s in the plan, she can figure out how to make some money or make some sacrifices. She doesn’t just get to have feelings and then raid the joint savings account to make herself feel good.

  44. I could never turn my father away knowing he’s doing his best. He tried his best to help his other daughter and as a parent, it’s hard to not help your kids. I would agree to living with me for a year to get back on his feet but in that year, he must get government assistance while looking for a job even if it’s not in his field. I’m sure when he was younger, having a higher education wasn’t important. Finding employment with one factoring in his age, no doubt is impossible.

  45. So, seeing as I am in the same boat just from the opposite view point (husband) to wife with father she seems to want to let live with us.

    Our situation differs in the sense of who the dad is. This is a man that literally cannot handle money and has ALWAYS been broke or having phones shut off because he cannot pay bills, but he sure does have a lot of new things and all the new movies that come out (digital, disc, and often the “special editions” of the same movies)

    He is “down on his luck” now, which is not surprising but I DO NOT want him living with us. I paid off his $5000 debt that was promised to be paid back and I have never seen any of it back…and he immediately let that bill rack up again so the next time we let that boat sink and got a new plan so my wife was not tied to his at all, which worked out for us cause he still has his phone turned off once a month.

    With this situation, I feel like most people would see that the end result for me if I cave is I am spending the rest of our life with her father living with us, over spending his money and never contributing…all on my one salary now.

    It really depends on what has gone down in the past with her father and her husband for him to not want it at all!

  46. Texican Ashley says:

    Ok I didn’t read all the comments. I’m Hispanic so my response is necessarily going to be colored by those cultural norms. I fully expect my husband and I will either support his mother to an extent as she gets older or she will eventually come live with us.
    With that being said, what’s missing here is the probability of your dad getting a job in his field. If he’s in his 50s to 60s it’s unlikely they are hiring him because he will retire soon. They don’t know your Dads accounts are empty and he’ll work until he keels over. Retail jobs are physically strenuous and again unlikely to hire an older man unless it’s like Home Depot or Walmart greeter. If I’ve pegged your dads situation correctly, all of you need to have a come to Jesus talk and set some realistic goals and boundaries. If after a year your dad hasn’t gotten his old life back we can safely say that is not a realistic goal. Living with you isn’t an option if you want to keep your marriage. So your problem is where do you send an out of work old man so he can realistically support himself? Somewhere with a low cost of living and perhaps an industry that desperately needs workers. Small town Texas with a chicken processing plant perhaps? The Dakotas? Drastic times call for drastic measures.

  47. Think of it like this. Could you still look at yourself in the mirror if he became effectively homeless and let him alone in the streets.I don’t think so. We all know that it mostly goes downhill from there.

    I understand that you already did a lot. But you clearly love your father. You can help him. Your husband doesn’t understand you situation or thinks you have done enough? How would he react if his father or mother was in this situation? What is family for if we leave those we love when they need us the most ?

    Either way you will resent your husband for not helping your father in real need.

    If you décide to not help him by feeling sick and guilty to the stomach and if you do decide to Take him in, by having your partner making it all about him.

    But at the end the real question is wich of thèse options are you really able to live with ?

    Lots of courage love,

  48. My take: you said you had left your work to support your husband’s business. What about you go back to your old industry/job and with that extra money start supporting your dad?

    The conversation with husband would be to decide between: you help the business if your father can live in your house while he gets back on his feet; you don’t strain the marriage with your father living in your house but you find a higher paid job that would allow you to help your father as you want.

    I still agree with other comments on supporting dad to find any kind of job. The bigger issue here is that if he doesn’t have any savings for his old age now, he won’t be able to build those up and you will still find yourself in a similar situation in a few years from now.

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