DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again and needs more help.
I'm 69, married and retired. We have some savings and I'd like to help her. However, I'm afraid if I take more money out of our savings, we may not have enough to cover an emergency or if either of us needs nursing home care.
She is a good and loving daughter, and I feel bad that I may not be able to help her. Do you see any solution to my problem? -- DENNIS IN VIRGINIA
DEAR DENNIS: You must stop enabling your adult daughter. Rather than offer more of your savings, it's important to find out what is causing her spending problem. (Drugs? Depression? A shopping addiction?) Then steer her and her husband to a credit counseling organization that can help her without placing your future welfare in jeopardy.
Legitimate credit counseling firms are affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals, or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. This isn't your problem, and it shouldn't be. You have done enough.
DEAR ABBY: Last weekend we had our children and grandkids over for a family birthday. We looked after the children, cooked, waited on everyone and cleaned up afterward while the adults sat texting or playing on their cellphones.
Abby, this is not so much a question as an observation for anyone of any age who is invited to visit someone's home:
Spending time on the cellphone rather than socializing is rude. It says our company is not valued. It says that neither we nor your children are important enough for your attention. It teaches children that it isn't necessary to be social, offer to help clear the table, or be gracious and appreciative when someone prepares a meal for them.
The visit left a bitter taste, and it will be a long time before we invite our children and grandchildren to our home again. I know cellphones are part of our culture, but adults still have the power to choose what is important and turn them off! -- DISCONNECTED IN MIDTOWN, TENN.
DEAR DISCONNECTED: Now that you have vented, may I pose a question? While your children were sitting on their fannies after the meal, did you or your spouse TELL them you needed help, that their children needed minding and that their behavior was rude? Because if you didn't, please recognize that the behaviors you described do not spring up overnight, and you may be partly responsible for how your children turned out.
"Not inviting them for a long time" isn't the answer, because they may not get the "hint." If you say what's on your mind, you may startle them into modeling better behavior for their children before it's too late. Putting into words how their behavior made you feel would be more direct and more effective.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.