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Ask Dave

Helping Dad

Jeremy can't be an enabler and continuously bail his father out of financial problems. Dave says there's a lesson for dad to learn.

QUESTION: Jeremy’s father has been bad with money his entire life, and his parents have bailed dad out. Jeremy and his wife are debt free and wonder if they should give his father the $350 he needs to get out of overdraft at the bank. Dave says there’s a lesson for dad to learn here, and it goes deeper than this money.

ANSWER: Regardless of how dad reacts to this, you still have to do the right thing. The right thing is to not put your family in jeopardy. The other right thing is to define help properly. When you say he’s been misbehaving with money his whole life, then giving him $350 won’t help him ... you're being an enabler. He’s going to have to make some radical moves to straighten himself out. If you give him $350, you hurt him instead of helping him. Then next week he’ll call you needing more money.

If you want to give him $350 on the condition that he goes through Financial Peace University and sends each of the completed lessons to you, then that helps. Tell him that it hurts you to see him struggling and he needs to be more responsible with money. He’s going to have to work through his debts. You can’t bail him out.