Wednesday, August 04, 2010

When One Of Your Family Members Steals From You

Three times my son began college. Each time he “was really going to do it this time.” So I paid for his books and tuition up front. And each time he did not even finish one semester. He did not tell me that he had quit going either...he just took my money and ran.

The fourth time he wanted to begin college I told him that if he saved his receipts and sent them to me along with his grades at the end of each semester, I would reimburse him once he had successfully finished the semester. He was absolutely outraged. How could I possibly be such an uncaring, hateful parent? After all, everything bad which had gone wrong during his life was not ever due to him making bad decisions, it was all my fault. I didn't hear from him again for many years. When I finally did it was because he hoped once again that he could con some money out of me.

I told him that I would give him a shoulder to cry on, but that me giving him money was over. In fact that it was almost time for him to begin helping me out financially in my old age. Once again I didn't hear from him for a long time.

He recently tried to con some money out of me once again. He is now 34 years old, and it is his goal to finish his bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering within the next year or so. He has indicated that he wants to get a master's degree next. I wish him well, but I am no longer “the wallet.”

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I worked and lived in Europe for 15 years. My older sister let me know that she would like to visit Europe, but that she couldn't afford to. She spent her career as a school teacher, teaching poor elementary school kids in the bad part of town. She had lived in West Texas her whole life, and had never even visited Europe. I mailed her a nice check so that she could come visit me.

Without having any discussion with me, she used my money to buy her youngest child a lemon of an American car. It was a red convertible. Had she chosen to discuss the matter with me I might well have said that I would be willing to contribute to the automobile expenses of my niece. But I wasn't consulted. Nor was I thanked.

I certainly would have expressed my reservations about them buying a hard driven, high mileage American car. I have a strong bias towards the quality, reliability, and good fuel economy of Japanese cars. Certainly for a college kid to commute back and forth to school they are vastly more practical. I would have brought up that white cars are far more reflective of the sun's energy, so they are cooler, and thus more comfortable in the hot west Texas desert. I probably would have suggested that sexy red cars are often hot-rodded brutally, and I most certainly would have brought up the multitude of liabilities involved with owning and driving a rag top.

Since I was not consulted in advance, is it fair of me to view this event as an example of one of family members stealing from me?