April 21, 2009
A Family of Leeches
A Family of Leeches

Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and welcome to the Dr. Laura YouTube channel, where you get to ask important questions that I think are relevant to a lot of people. And I know this one is. And the answer may seem so obvious, but I think it has a depth that we need to explore.

Tammy wrote (she's 38)...she's writing about her family and the difficulty she has letting them suffer the consequences of their own behaviors. What does that mean?

"My entire family," she says, "on both sides, are addicts." She has no addiction to drugs or alcohol though. Her mother committed suicide when she was a baby. Her father abandoned her on the steps of his own mother and father. The grandparents, along with the maternal aunt and uncle, shared responsibility for raising her, and she is grateful for that.

The issue she continually faces is that her family consistently makes terrible financial choices and many of them cannot pay their bills, and their houses are in foreclosure. "I chose a different path, which was to go to college, marry a great guy and, as a result, I am very financially secure," she writes. "I help my family, within reason, and where I feel I can make a difference. For example, getting the niece off to college, paying for rehab for a cousin, etc." [Good gracious]. "I, however, will not continue to shell out cash for their continual bad decisions: Like buying a new car when they have no money, or re-financing the house and taking out the equity to 'have fun', or to retire early because they don't like their boss. I do not believe this is my responsibility, and regardless of how much money we have, my husband and I didn't work hard to get where we were, so that we could support my family's irresponsibility and bad decisions." Well, you know, she's right. (There's another sentence.) "I believe my position is fair and appropriate, so why does it cause me so much stress to say 'no'?"

This makes me so sad to have to answer, but there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have an irresponsible family full of leeches, and in addition to that, you lost your mom and dad. Now you are grateful for the relatives who brought you up, but they're also trying to suck you dry. And you have a sense of responsibility and gratitude because they did raise you. On the other hand, the truth is, you have so few people in your family who are really generous and loving and caring about you. And you know that money is the umbilical cord, and it's hard for you to imagine cutting it. Because then, you know, it's like being lost at sea. They'll just be going off and off and off and off into the sunset, and that's very painful for you to think about.

Now the good news! The good news is that you've got a wonderful husband and kids, and his side of the family is terrific. So there are times you have to cut your losses; accept the fact that there was minimal there anyway. I like you helping somebody in your family who's trying to do something with their lives...that's terrific. You grew up in spite of all of this chaos to be a very decent, loving, caring person. But don't let that be used against you.

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I look forward to hearing some of your questions, right here, on the Dr. Laura YouTube channel. Take care.

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Posted by Staff at 7:00 AM