Abby: Daughter deep in debt needs counseling, not money

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: Three years ago, I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay her debts because she couldn’t pay her bills. She and her husband keep separate accounts. 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. I’d like to help her, but 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.

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: My sister-in-law gave me a beautiful watch for Christmas that became my favorite accessory, but her brother and I divorced. I’m not sure if it would be appropriate or if I should give it away.

Torn in Decatur, Ill.

Dear Torn: The watch was given with affection, and even if you wear it in your ex-husband’s presence, the chances are small that he would realize who it was from. There is nothing inappropriate about doing so.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.