Dear Newsweek, my issue is with my youngest daughter who has always lived with us, and is in her early 40s. In early 2017 myself, my husband (we are both in our early 70s), my daughter, and her two children went on a vacation to Florida and considered buying a time share, which didn’t end up happening.
I believe it was around this time that she made a PayPal account using my name. I had always previously trusted her with both mine and her father’s personal information. In 2018 we ended up moving to Florida and bought a house. My daughter contributed half of the down payment and I put down $20,000.
Like I said, she has always lived with us. She is a single mother with two children, has never paid rent despite the fact that she makes good money. She also owns a condo of her own which she rented out before she sold it.
She met a man when we moved to Florida and moved him in to the house. He doesn’t own a car, has no money and had three jobs in four years. My husband and I got fed up of this living situation after a year, and moved in to our own house, leaving my daughter in the original property. She recently refinanced the house, and offered me only $10,000, half of what I originally put in. I believe her partner has had something to do with this, he brought only debt in to my daughters life. He’s in and out of court, and owes $600 a month in child care for his two daughters from a previous relationship that has no interest in seeing him.
My daughter is also always buying him new clothes, jewelry, shoes, and even a new car, but nothing for my grandkids.
I began to realize something was seriously going on when I told her I want to refinance my house, a process my daughter was helping me with. I have no debt, and only one credit card however, she told me that the bills state that I owe PayPal $6,595.00. I was shocked. She claimed it was for the vacation we went on to Florida in 2017.
I immediately called PayPal to try and get to the bottom of the situation and they gave me the account number registered to my name and the statement. It was 100 pages long. In 2022, she spend $3,000 on restaurants, clothing stores, even on a gift she bought me, all on credit.
She spent the other $3,000 between 2020 and 2021. When I confronted her about it she said she would close the account, and proposed going through with refinancing the house we bought together and paying me back $100 a month.
I firmly said no, I do not want this debt on my account. Me and my husband are always willing to help others in whatever way we can, and we feel we have done a lot for our daughter and are terribly hurt by this betrayal.
Thank you for listening to me.
Mamma Giver, Florida
An Enabled Adult With An Entitled Financial Attitude
Dr. Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and the author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety as well as Dr. Chloe’s 10 Commandments of Dating.
Dear Mamma Giver,
Obviously, she should not open accounts in your name. You are correct to insist on prompt repayment. While that’s clear, it sounds like you’re mystified regarding how she could behave this way. Her behavior may stem from an ongoing lack of boundaries on your part—please understand: that doesn’t justify her actions, but it may help explain them.
For example, it certainly sounds problematic for her to have lived rent-free off you—but it doesn’t appear you ever communicated any expectations otherwise—so she may have believed that her initial contribution was all you expected. It also sounds problematic for her to move her boyfriend into the house if you opposed—yet I didn’t read anything about you intervening. When things became intolerable, it doesn’t appear that you actually confronted the couple—instead it appears you basically accommodated them by purchasing another home.
It seems you once found this lax approach to financial boundaries to constitute a loving, giving parental dynamic—however, I hope you are realizing that it is actually creating an enabled adult with an entitled financial attitude. She also doesn’t seem to know how to set financial boundaries with her boyfriend—perhaps because they were never modeled by her parents. Sometimes the most loving and giving thing to do is actually to have difficult conversations about clear expectations and boundaries, as well as consequences for what will happen if reasonable conditions are unmet. I’m sorry it has taken till your daughter is middle-aged for you to realize this, but it’s better late than never. I would strongly suggest seeing a counselor to help you examine your feelings about money, conflict, and family; and to provide support as you revise your concept of what being a “giving mother” really means.
Truly wishing you all the best. Change will be hard but worth it.
Attempt To Work Something Out With Your Bank
Dennis J. Eisinger is a Florida real estate attorney and professor of law at the University of Florida.
I am very sorry to read about your situation. Unfortunately, your tale is somewhat common. While most people generally scrutinize business transactions with third parties they sometimes don’t when the transaction involves family members, trusting them instead. It is often said that justice is blind. However, so is family love. In your situation, I presume that the house purchased in 2018 was titled in the names of both you and your daughter, with no written agreement between you regarding payment of mortgage and housing expenses, and occupancy rules. Very understandable in “family” situations. Without subsidiary documentation, the law presumes that ownership of the house was vested on a 50/50 basis. Florida law also requires that, to refinance or sell the house, all title holders must execute the mortgage and/or deed. This is perhaps why your daughter proposed that you and her refinance the house with agreement to repay you $100/month until your $20,000 down payment is repaid. It is my suggestion that you take this opportunity to enter into a written agreement with her regarding expenses and fair split of the house’s appreciated value.
Regarding the PayPal account in your name, the account was linked to your bank and credit card accounts by your daughter without your permission, so she committed a crime. Reviewing your bank and credit card statements monthly would have been helpful. Since I presume that you do not wish to prosecute her, I suggest that you attempt to work something out with your bank regarding the indebtedness or you reach written agreement with her regarding reimbursement that includes credit back to you for 50% of the increased equity in the house.
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