Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ms. Vicki,

I was willing to help my mother any way I can, but she wants to continue to live off my money. I’m married now, and I have a family of my own. My wife and I are barely making it off my E-5 salary. My wife is trying hard to get a good government job, and right now she is working as a waitress for a major restaurant chain.

If we can work like dogs and manage to pay rent, car payments, utilities, food and clothing, why can’t my 43-year-old mother do the same thing? Why won’t she tell her boyfriend to get a job and help support them? She expects me to continue to send her a $350 monthly allotment for her and her boyfriend to live off and buy alcohol and cigarettes while watching the Maury Povich show.

I love my mother, but I don’t think it’s fair for me to continue to support her like I’m the parent. She is the parent, but she has never acted like one. I was always the one in the “man of the house” role until I joined the Army.

I want my mom to grow up and act like an adult. Ms. Vicki, how can I let her know her free ride is over? — No More Allotments

Dear Allotments,

My grandmother had an old saying: “You can show them better than you can tell them.” In this case, you don’t have to say anything, just stop the allotment. She quickly will get the point.

You are right, taking care of your healthy, able-bodied mother is inappropriate. Even more, you are helping to support her boyfriend, too. It is ridiculous for a mother to allow her child to do this. I’m appalled. You will be enabling her behavior if you continue to send this money every month. She can get a job, and her boyfriend can, too.

You are young and just starting out with a family of your own. Your family is your first priority, they need you.

The bottom line is your mother needs to grow up! You were placed in a “parentified” role very early and at a time when you shouldn’t have felt like you had to be the man of the house. I believe everyone in a home, including children, should have responsibilities, but to make you feel like you had to be the adult when you were a child is unacceptable.

Continue to take care of yourself and your family, but stop the allotment.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband has not been paid in four months. Who can I talk to about this? It’s getting hard to make ends meet. My two sons and I had to move back home with my family in Delaware because we could no longer pay the rent.

I know my husband is AWOL and has been for almost eight months. He refuses to turn himself in. I’ve tried talking to him until I am blue in the face, but he won’t listen to me.

I am much older than my husband, who is 23. He is still young and immature. He did not realize what he was signing up for when he joined the Army.

I guess my point is, I don’t think my husband being AWOL should affect the military entitlements for me and my children. My husband only received part of his sign-on bonus — about $5,000 — after he finished basic training and advanced individual training. He still has more bonus money coming to him.

Do you have any contacts that can help me? — Misty in Delaware

Dear Misty,

Your husband has dug himself into a legal mess. He is currently “on leave without pay” and you do not have any entitlements coming. I’m sorry for being so blunt.

You say he is young and immature and should have never enlisted. However, you didn’t say he was having any emotional or mental difficulty due to multiple deployments, etc., only that he regrets enlisting.

He is an adult and must handle this situation quickly and with a mature, adult approach. You should solicit the help from his family and friends who love him and will give him good advice. Second, consider seeking support from your pastor, rabbi or other member of the clergy who would help him realize he must return to his unit.

This will only get worse. Many AWOL service members think they will blend into society and never have to face the music. However, it’s only a matter of time before he is stopped for a traffic ticket, etc., and arrested.

His only option is to contact his unit — they will happily give him direction on how to return. Take care of yourself and keep in touch.

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

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