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Ask Dave

Brokenhearted Mom

Laurie took out a student loan for $10,000 for her youngest son's college. Laurie wants to keep her word to her son but is struggling. Dave helps Laurie decide what to do from a moral standpoint.

QUESTION: Laurie in Chicago took out a student loan for $10,000 for her youngest son’s college. She’s been paying on the loan, but now her son is married and she doesn’t see him. Her daughter-in-law wants nothing to do with Laurie’s family. Laurie wants to keep her word to her son but is struggling with this. Dave helps Laurie decide what to do from a moral standpoint.

ANSWER: Your end is not a legal obligation; it’s a moral obligation. You want to just pay it off and be done with it. You’re mad at your daughter-in-law again every time you pay this. I would want to get that over with. That’s the thing, and the problem is the two aren’t connected because you didn’t promise her anything. This isn’t between you and her. You didn’t really say, “I’ll pay it off as long as you continue to speak to me.” You just said, “I’ll pay it off.”

There’s a part of me that wouldn’t pay it too. I agree with that, but it really wasn’t the deal. All the deals that I have with my kids are . . . for instance, you’re not in the will if you don’t continue to walk with the Lord and continue to have a life that represents that and continue to live the principles we teach. I’m not going to leave money to people who are bad stewards. That part of this discussion comes into play then.

What I would do is call him and tell him all of that and just say, “Our heart is broken. The fact that we don’t get to talk to you just tears our heart out, and we’re hurt. We don’t know what to do, so what we’re going to do is just as an act of love toward you—one more—we’re just going to write a check and be done with this and we hope that someday you can see your way to come talk to us again.”

Your heart’s just broken. It’s not something that you can control. It’s just that you’re having to write a check to a mess every month, and it drags your heart into the pavement and stomps on it every month. I couldn’t do that. I would either decide not to pay it or pay it and be done with it. But I think I would just pay it because I think I hear—and I could be wrong—but I think I hear you guys . . . that in your world $10,000 is not going to change your life. It’s an inconvenience. It’s not a catastrophe. That’s what I’m basing this on. If I thought all you had was $10,000, I wouldn’t tell you to give him your last $10,000. But I don’t think that’s what I’m dealing with here.

I would just be done with it. It’s kind of like ripping the Band-Aid off.