Ask Amy: Only child is spoiled by focus on money

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • January 1, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: Our 27-year-old daughter has a well-paying job and a sports car parked in the garage of her new home (with pool), which we have only seen in pictures.

Our calls go to her voice mail and are not returned. Since she started college we have seen her only a few times and hear from her only right before her birthday or Christmas to “remind us.”

We send her a nice check. We don’t get a thank you or any communication most of the time. Over the years we have done quite a bit for her, but we don’t rate an e-mail or call for our own birthdays or other occasions.

Money is extremely important to her and she spends it liberally on herself. We are savers and do not live above our means.

She knows she will inherit a nice amount someday and has bragged several times that she loves being the only child because she gets so much more that way. We lived our lives around her schedule, giving her things while not splurging on ourselves. Now we are cut out of her life.

I wonder what we “owe” her. My wife thinks we must continue on as we have and insists we must leave her a large inheritance. I think things need to change, but I am not sure where to start.

Amy says: Things do need to change. You and your wife should discuss this, ideally with a neutral third party such as a professional counselor (and financial planner).

Your daughter excels at taking care of herself. You two should start to value and love yourselves more. This means making choices about your spending and inheritance that will satisfy and reflect your own values. You might want to spend down the inheritance over time by supporting local causes.

Write to your daughter and let her know that you would love to know her better as a person, but that the money spigot is being turned off. I realize this is potentially heartbreaking because she is your only child, but once money is off the table, you will discover what — if anything — is left.

Sharing information

Dear Amy: My son was born 30 years ago with birth defects and other health issues that resulted in us having a family genetic work-up done. We learned that the problem originated on my side of the family.

One of my cousins had almost identical issues, so we made a copy of the report and shared it with my aunt and uncle.

In speaking with one of my cousins recently I discovered that her parents never shared any of that information with her. Her parents never even told her of her sibling’s birth defects, which were corrected surgically in infancy. She is dealing now with health issues related to this inherited syndrome.

Should I share the report with her and her siblings? She knows that I have it but didn’t ask for a copy.

Her parents are deceased, and I’m not sure I should wade in.

Amy says: There is no downside to sharing this information; quite honestly, I don’t understand your hesitation. Having this genetic information is empowering to this generation of your family, just as it empowered you when you received it.

Genetic testing has changed significantly since you received this information, but sharing this report would give your family members a place to start, and I urge you to do so.

Doggie dos and don’ts

Dear Amy: I know readers didn’t like when you said that a dog pooping on someone’s lawn was “disrespectful,” even when it was quickly picked up.

On walks, my dogs were never allowed on private property, and certainly not to take a dump. You can train them to go on demand in the location you want them to go.

And “curb your dog” means just that. Not on someone’s lawn, not on the sidewalk.

Amy says: No dog I’ve ever walked was quite so potty-compliant, but thank you for the support.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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