DEAR ABBY: I am 25 years old and have been happily married for three years. My husband is the man of my dreams. We are both hard-working and save most of our earnings to meet future goals.
My problem is his mother and father mismanage their money terribly. Throughout their lives, no matter how much money they made, they spent more. During the past 30 years, when they overspent on phone bills, dinners out, massages, etc., they would ask for money from her brother.
Recently my father-in-law took early retirement because he is in poor health due to years of smoking and poor diet. His entire pension was used to pay off their house and accumulated debts. If they had watched their spending, I believe they would have enough through Social Security and her paycheck to pay their bills -- yet they are still spending frivolously, acquiring new debt and asking us for money.
This isn't the first time they have asked and received at inopportune moments when we really needed the money ourselves -- such as just before our wedding and at Christmas. As I was writing the most recent check a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law laughed and said, "If you think I know how to spend, you should see my friend 'Mary'!"
I thought to myself, we would all love to spend, spend, spend, but it shouldn't be done unless one has the means. I want to be a fair person, but now every time I think of my in-laws I fear they are going to one day wipe us out. How can I prevent it? -- DROWNING IN THEIR DEBT
DEAR DROWNING: There has been a role reversal here. Your in-laws are acting like children and you and your husband have been thrust into the role of reluctant parents. If the two of you continue bailing them out, they will never quit their frivolous spending.
You and your husband must stand firm on this. Enough is enough. Your in-laws may need some counseling in prudent financial management. If that is not an option, volumes have been written on the subject.
Saying no won't be easy, but it's important that you draw the line now!
DEAR ABBY: I am 23 years old, happily married and have two children. My 4 1/2-year-old is the result of a previous relationship. Her father left me when he found out I was pregnant and didn't show up until shortly before the delivery date. He wanted me back, so I moved back in with him. A week before our daughter was born, he dumped me again.
Abby, I am now married to a wonderful man I met within days after my daughter's birth. He adopted her and is the only father she's ever known.
I know she must be told, but when would be the best age to tell her about her birth father? -- CLUELESS IN MICHIGAN
DEAR CLUELESS: As soon as your daughter is old enough to understand the difference between "biological father" and "adoptive father," begin telling her the story. Tell her only as much as she wants to know and fill in more details later, when she has a need to know and asks you questions. Be sure to let her know that she is special -- and that her daddy fell in love with BOTH of you at first sight.
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