DEAR ABBY: My husband left me two years ago. Since that time I have struggled financially with no help from him. I earn only half of what I need to pay my bills each month. Several times this past year I was sick and missed work with no compensation -- so you can imagine the poverty level at which I live. My three children still live with me. They are 17, 19 and 22.
The problem is, my two oldest boys have full-time jobs, yet they refuse to help out financially. I ask only that they contribute $50 a week. I know I am doing them a disservice by allowing them to freeload, because they're not learning to take responsibility. However, I cannot handle the ultimatum of "pay up or get out."
Should my kids choose to leave, I would be sick with worry. I am worried now, too, but not nearly as worried as I'd be if they were to walk out of my life, as my oldest son did when I gave him that ultimatum a year ago. He has only recently started talking to me again, but our relationship is strained. He blames me for the hardship he experienced when he went out on his own.
Is there another way to make my children contribute to our household without taking drastic measures? Please help, Abby. I am too tired to get an additional part-time job in order to keep our heads above water. -- AT A LOSS IN RIVERHEAD, N.Y.
DEAR AT A LOSS: Please do not tolerate this situation any longer. You're doing no one a favor -- including yourself.
Your boys have a lot of growing up to do. Your request for $50 a week from the older boys is not excessive. They are young men now and should want to ease the burden you're carrying to give them a home.
Call a family meeting. Explain your financial situation in no uncertain terms. Then decide -- as a family -- what steps can be taken.