Is helping with your kids’ mortgage really helping your kids?

Even a small house can cost a fortune

Even a small house can cost a fortune

My general rule of thumb for parenting is to let children, be they five or 35, do as much as possible for themselves. It makes them feel strong and competent and that goes a long way to making them feel happy.

While many parents are quick to help their adult children buy a house, my husband and I have not helped finance our children’s mortgages.  I am happy with our arrangement as it leaves us with much less complicated relationships.

Our children don’t feel financially beholden to us and because we have no propriety interest in their property, we’re more likely to refrain from giving unwanted advice.  In addition, our children have no sense of entitlement to our other assets.  I have seen this happen when parents help with mortgages and understandably, the parents are resentful. Read More

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I am thankful I have lots to be happy about and here is why:

1. My heart sings each time I see one of my three kids.

2. I have two wonderful sons-in-law, who also make my heart sing.

3. All three kids and kids-in-law live in the same city I do.

4. All five are thoughtful and concerned citizens of Canada and the world.

5.  They have a father/ father-in-law who cares about their well-being.

6. I see them regularly, but we don’t sit in each others’ pockets.

7. They still come to me for advice, even if they don’t take it.

8. All of them are the longest blooming flowers I have ever seen.  Watching them change and grow is like magic before my very eyes.

9.  They keep teaching me about the world.

10.  They keep teaching me about myself, especially how much I can love.

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Advice for young job hunters

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Today’s Globe and Mail has an excellent insert for Gen Y.  You may be interested in discreetly leaving it on the kitchen table for your 20 something young adult or (not so discreetly) forwarding them the links to the online version.

Canada’s Top Employers for Young People lists 90 companies that share a commitment to helping young people transition into the working world.

Yesterday, Victoria Hoffman wrote about job hunting and the need for young people to network. Another useful resource for your young person.

Our kids may not take our advice, but they may absorb something they read.  Good luck to you and to them!  Read More

Actions speak louder than words

Life is a puzzle

Life is a puzzle

My friend Mary has been in despair about her 29 year old son Jeff for some time. He often treats her with contempt.

Jeff has been living in Vancouver for the past five years where he works as a manager for a large department store. He stays with Mary when he returns to Ottawa to visit family and friends.

When she asks him how his day went, he might reply that it is none of her business, or he gives a one word answer. He leaves dishes in the sink after making himself some food and ignores Mary’s request that he clean up after himself.  When Mary planned a pot luck birthday party for his sister, Jeff told Mary she just wanted to get out of work.  (And what’s wrong with that, I might ask!)

Jeff also fails to return his mother’s telephone calls or e-mails.  Mary is always the one to initiate contact and then she waits, hoping she will hear from him.

The most recent of Jeff’s transgressions is that he failed to answer a previously arranged telephone call with Mary. There was no e-mail advising Mary that he wouldn’t be available and no follow-up e-mail apologizing for not answering the call.

Mary decided that it was time to act. She sent him this e-mail: Read More

Matchmaking moms know best!

For a tongue-in-cheek look at how mothers are trying to find mates for their adult children, read the New York Times article by  Risa Doherty.  The self deprecating humour is hilarious!

Of course, I never got involved in matchmaking myself. I was above that sort of thing.  A little question here and a small word of encouragement there, was all I ever did. And no-one paid any attention anyway. I resorted to talking to my friends about when and if my children would find a partner.  Now that two are married, the heat is off the third.  At least, for the moment.

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I and thou–Martin Buber and the in-laws

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For those of you who studied philosophy, you may be wondering how German philosopher Martin Buber could possibly relate to in-laws, and for those of you didn’t, stick with me.  It’s more interesting than you might think. But first I want to tell you three little stories. The names are changed but the stories are real.

Story One.  My friend Barbara revealed during a recent conversation that she prefers to keep her son-in-law emotionally at arm’s length.

“While I love my son-in-law, I never want to put my daughter in a position where she feels she could not leave her husband because of my husband’s and my attachment to him. I wouldn’t want her to feel that she is breaking up the entire family, ” she said.

Story Two.  My friend Jeff told me that he wanted to speak to his daughter about his son and his daughter’s brother, Jared.  Jeff is worried  because Jared is becoming attached to a religious sect that he (Jeff) doesn’t approve of. When I suggested that his daughter’s husband might have some insight into the situation, he responded that he was not comfortable with his son-in-law,  the situation did not involve him and that this was “a family matter.”

Story Three.  My friend Marie told me that she and her husband don’t want to get too close to their daughter’s new partner. They loved her former husband and were very hurt when the young couple broke up.  They don’t want to go through the pain of loosing another son-in-law.

While all these positions are understandable, in each case, the daughter or son-in-law is not equally valued and loved as those born into the family. The implication is that they are not fully part of the family and as a result have second class status. Read More

Remember who you are: advice for daughters and sons

Lisa Moore

Mothers, daughters, trust, and desire.

Laughter, poignancy, insight and life long advice.

It’s all there in a 12 minute talk given by Newfoundland author Lisa Moore on The Walrus‘s web site, a Canadian magazine that provides information and analysis on just about any topic.  Moore is the author of “February”, a novel that won the Canada Reads 2013 contest and her works of fiction have been nominated for the Giller and the Man Booker prizes.

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International Women’s Day: A time to act

International Women's Day 2015 Theme

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme

I am ashamed to admit that I almost forgot that International Women’s Day is March 8 until I received an e-mail from Match, a Canadian organization dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women  around the world.

No parent can afford to forget IWD or the struggles it represents, if we want equality for our girls and boys.

Not so long ago my mother was considered by law incapable of deciding whether a medical operation would be in the best interests of her children. In 1950’s Quebec, where I grew up, the law required the signature of my father, who while a lovely man, was not an involved dad and would have known far less than my mother, a former nurse, about any health concerns his kids might have had. It was not until 1964 that Quebec wives could conduct themselves independently in legal or financial matters without authorization from their husbands.

My mother was married under a regime known as “separate as to property”.  That meant she had control over what she owned. But that was useless for a stay-at-home mom, who owned only the things she brought into the marriage: some silverware, dishes and bed sheets. She was totally dependent upon the good will of my father.

My mother once gave a speech at the local Toastmistress organization on how Quebec legislation discriminated against women.   She came home fiercely angry when the male adjudicator gave her poor marks, which she was convinced were in retaliation to what she said. She raged against her status in the 1950’s before the 1960’s wave of feminism became the rage.

My grandmother’s situation was worse. Read More

Stealing an adult child’s life: A sad arrangement

The Oscar winning movie “Still Alice” is disturbing on many fronts but what haunts me most is the possibility that Alice, a woman in in her early 50’s struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s, could steal her daughter’s youth.

Out of love and compassion, Alice’s younger daughter moves to New York from the west coast to look after her ailing mom, while the other members of the family move on with their lives, including Alice’s husband who decides to pursue his career in another city.

I had the same concern  after reading “They Left Us Everything”, a memoir by Plum Johnson about dismantling the family home after her mother’s death and through the process, coming to terms with her relationship with her mother.   Johnson looked after her parents from her early forties to her early sixties and she chronicles her growing resentment and anger during this period until her mother died at 93. Her mother, a cantankerous and self centered old soul, stole Johnson’s middle age.

What starts out as an act of love can turn into a test of endurance and I pray my children will be spared that fate. Read More

All parents are cowards

NY Times

There is a wonderful article in today’s New York Times about the need to let go of your children, whether they’re two or twenty-two.  Michael Christie brings the issue alive by recounting his own experience with letting go, first with his mother and then with his boys, in his article “All Parents are Cowards“.