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OT - How to Rebuff Someone Without Repercussions

My DIL has a friend that I've never liked. She drinks excessive amounts of alcohol, smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and complains that she has no money to feed or clothe her children.

She goes out with men who are drains on society (don't work, don't want to work, steal, beat women, etc). Every new man is introduced to her children right away, since he's in bed with their mother when they wake up in the morning. What food she does get from food stamps and the food pantry is always eaten by her current man, and none of the men seem to care about the children at all. The little money she gets is spent on rent, electric, alcohol and cigarettes. If there's any change left over, the man always takes it.

For years my DIL has been giving her friend cash whenever she has a bit extra. And when she shops, she looks for the buy 1/get 1 deals so she can bring groceries into her friend's house. Which then get quickly eaten up by her no-good man of the hour.

I never said anything to my DIL about it because it's not my business how she spends her money, unless my grandchildren are doing without something necessary and/or important.

Lately my children have been having difficulties because my son had an accident and has been unable to work for several months while he's recovering and going through physical therapy. Luckily they have very good insurance, which has covered all the medical expenses and repair to the motorcycle. But now they are a family of 4 struggling to get by solely on my DIL's wages. Not suffering, but not in a position to help that friend anymore.

So right about the time my DIL stopped giving the friend money and food, the friend began emailing me and calling me mom. I didn't reply to the 5 or 6 emails she sent, so she asked DIL for my cell phone number (all I have is a prepaid cell, no land line phone at home). I had no idea DIL had given her the number. Then yesterday she called me begging for money to buy food and clothes for her children. She said things were so bad she let the oldest child go live with her father's family because she couldn't afford her. The youngest she was keeping with her because he gets SSI (uh huh, yea). It was the middle child she was begging for, since his father is an illegal alien who was deported back to Mexico, so there isn't any family close by that she can let him live with.

I told her I didn't have any money to spare. That I'm living on social security disability, which I paid into by working 50+ hours a week from the age of 15 until the age of 50, when I became too disabled to work anymore. The only time I took off work in all that time (besides vacation and maternity leave) was to go back to school for a year, which my employer paid for. I don't drink, or smoke, or have any other money draining vices. My disability covers rent, utilities, groceries, 30 pre-paid cell phone minutes every month, gas & oil for my car, and my medical co-pays. That's it.

She asked me if I could get a credit card advance to help her out! I said no, I only use my credit cards for travel expenses and emergencies, like the $250 hospital co-pay required before I can be admitted for an urgent but not-deemed-emergency (by the hospital and insurance company) medical issue. And then it takes me a long while to pay it back, with interest.

She then asked me to think of ways I could scrimp over the next month so I'd be able to afford to come up with some cash to help her, and she'd call me back tomorrow (someone told her I get my check on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, and that's tomorrow).

At first I thought I just won't answer my phone. But then I thought I must tell her in no uncertain terms that I cannot and will not give her any cash. How can I do this diplomatically? I don't want to be mean to anyone, especially not someone my DIL has been friends with for 20+ years and considers family.

Tue. Aug 17, 11:44am

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There is really no way to be diplomatic enough since this woman is being inappropriate and pushy. You already have your own answer. Say no, be firm, do not allow her any wiggle room and do not take any calls from her after this. You are not her mother.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 1:45 PM

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I agree with the pp, and with someone so bold you really have to be blunt, which isn't to say you have to be rude or mean - just very clear. You can even be sympathetic, but it doesn't have to change the message. And, I'm guessing, there will be repercussions. This does not sound like a person who will be gracious or accepting of your position. Prepare yourself for that going in and stay strong!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 4:10 PM

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A quote from one of my favorite classic songs....

"Girl, don't go away mad
Girl - just go away"


It sounds to me like you actually DO want some reprocussions. Ideally you want her to stop speaking to you and your daughter. You just can't figure out how to do it without her also being upset, petty and possibly vindictive.

Based on your description though it sounds like she's too dense for anything but direct-to-the-point-of-rude bluntness. You may try to say it as kindly as you like, but you must keep it firm and simple.

"Jane - I cannot help you."

And that is really all you need to say. In fact it's tougher to keep it short than to try to justify and validate your position. Don't make excuses - she'll run over everything you use to justify not helping her and no amount of explaining will satisfy her. Simply stick to yours guns and don't feel that you have to justify anything - you don't.

FWIW I've been in similar shoes to yours. And you are right that helping her would only help her latest man and not her kids. It sucks because our instinct is to reach out to people in need, but it wouldn't help the people that need it the most. :-(

Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 4:19 PM

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Can i ask what kind of disability you have? I know it doesn't seem relevant to your question, but I'm curious.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 4:29 PM

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No, I don't want repercussions of any kind. I don't care if my DIL is still friends with this person. What I don't want is a rift in my family, between me and DIL, if this woman makes a big deal out of it.

What I'd really love to tell her is that if she stopped drinking all that beer and vodka, and stopped smoking all those cigarettes, and gave up the super digital cable TV with DVR, the blackberry phone, and the slug leeches she has for boyfriends, she'd have PLENTY of money to feed, clothe, and entertain all her children. They could all live with her, and they'd all live pretty well on that $770 SSI with the free health care and $450 a month in food stamps, in that HUD building where she only pays $190 a month for a 4 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment. And that if she doesn't want to follow any of my advice, then she shouldn't complain about her situation or beg me to suffer so I can give her my money that I need to live my meager life. I don't drink or smoke. I don't even have a TV, so no cable charges. My cell phone is the cheap $18 one I got because it came with 300 free minutes. I have to pay $140 a month for my health insurance and medical/prescription co-pays, and I don't get food stamps or rent subsidy. I also don't have to have any old nasty, thieving, woman and child abusing man around to replace my late husband (incidentally, all my children are from the same father, the man I was married to for 30 years, may his wonderful, gentle, loving soul rest in peace). But of course, I can't just come out and say all that without causing problems that will ripple through my own family.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 10:04 AM

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OP, you've made a lot of judgments about this person. (And I'm not saying I'd disagree with them.) But the fact is, it's not that you can't help her. You won't help her. If you won the lottery tomorrow you wouldn't give her a cent. And if she pesters you further, you really should just tell her that you WILL NOT be giving her money. Have some backbone and set an example for your daughter-in-law, who really seems to have a boundary issue, herself.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 10:22 AM

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Ok, I answered the phone because otherwise she was just going to keep calling and leaving messages, using up my minutes. So I followed Tuesday 4:19's advice and said "I Cant Help You."

She said "What about the life insurance money you got when David died? Can I get some of that?" I was absolutely astounded at this woman's gall. But I took a deep breath, and still following Tuesday 4:19's advice, I didn't tell her that I had already used the bulk of that to pay off his medical bills, burial expenses, credit card debt and car loan. I just repeated "I can't help you" then I said I had to go and I hung up.

She didn't call back after that -- not yet anyway.

We'll see what -- if anything -- happens now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 6:32 PM

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It sounds like you shouldn't be at all surprised with *anything* she may say. You've done the right thing and I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns. Now you don't need to answer the phone and waste any more cell phone minutes on her since you've give her your final answer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 6:50 PM

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