- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My dad hasn’t worked for as long as I can remember. My mom is the one who has always tried to work a steady job while my dad just worked these odd jobs from time to time. My parents’ credit is shot and they have no money in the bank.

About 18 months ago, my dad was injured in a car accident. It was not his fault, but of course he says he can’t work because his back was injured. In reality, he’s just sitting around waiting on a settlement from the accident that he thinks will be about $20,000.

I’m very resentful because my parents have not been supportive of me at all. I know my dad doesn’t like to work and my mother is happy enabling him. She has been happy just working as a waitress here and there. I sit and think about it now and I don’t know how we survived.

They never came to any of my activities in school, they just never bothered. They did not even come to my basic training graduation - and it was only 150 miles away. I have come to the conclusion that my siblings and I just were not important enough for my parents to work hard for us.

What’s wrong with trying to provide the best life possible for your children? Now my parents want me to help support them by giving them $250 a month from my pay. I’m just a corporal in the Army and I don’t make a lot of money. How can they expect me to support them?

They say my cousin who is in the Marine Corps sends his mother a monthly allotment to help with his younger brothers. His mother is a widow, is not in good health and she only gets Social Security. I can understand that she needs help every now and then. It’s a different situation from my parents who could be doing much better, but they just choose not to.

I’m not trying to get even with my parents for their lack of support. I’m just not going to let them use me. Please tell me I’m not wrong. - Unsupportive Parents

Dear Parents,

Let me applaud you for your hard work. You are doing a great job at trying to make a better life for yourself despite your parents’ actions. It sounds like your parents just don’t get it.

They should have found a way to attend your graduation from basic training. As a parent, their behavior is unacceptable to me, and you deserved better. As my sons have moved to young adulthood, I find they need their parents’ support even more.

I want to help you realize that people cannot give you what they don’t have to give. I hope this makes sense to you. In other words, you have parents who won’t step out of the box and consider your feelings. The truth is you can’t make them.

I believe having respect for your parents is honorable. For this reason, I hope you can think about it and find some good things about your parents; find something they were good at and focus on some good memories you shared with them.

Regarding the $250 monthly allotment: Bottom line, you don’t have the money to send them; there’s no way you can afford this on your salary. What’s more, I don’t think it’s your responsibility. Your mother continues to work and make whatever money she can and she enables your father’s nonworking behavior. If your father wants to wait on the accident settlement, then let him, that’s his choice.

For now, I think you need to love your parents, but seek out adults from whom you can receive some good mentoring and support. Keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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