Baggage Check: Stuck in the Parent Trap


MY PARENTS RECENTLY moved here from my home country and wanted to buy a house, which they can’t afford, so I volunteered to buy it with them. (I felt pressure as the only unmarried son.) And now my dad says he wants to buy a car under my name. I have college student loans to pay off, plus a mortgage. Now a car? I’m only 26, but I feel stressed and trapped in a job I don’t like. — Trapped

It’s rare I get to use this forum as a financial soapbox, but going into home ownership with anyone who “can’t afford” it is simply not good, whether they changed your diapers or not. You’re in desperate need of some boundaries here. You have siblings and should not be shouldering your parents’ financial burdens alone. (So, the car? A resounding “No.”) If the house is a done deal, a tentative plan should be worked out for your parents to buy you out of the mortgage within a set number of years — please tell me they have an income. Set up a meeting for the three of you with a financial advisor.

You are also way too young to be stuck in a job so soul-sucking. See what resources your university’s career/alumni office has in terms of vocational counseling, testing, job-searching and networking.

The Aftermath of Dad’s Drinking
My dad has started drinking again. He says it relieves stress at his new job. But the last time he drank, all hell broke loose. He called me all wasted and, in turn, I ended up sending a nasty e-mail to my friends. My friends have since blocked me and refused to speak to me. This has hurt me so much. How do I make it up to them and get my friends back? — No Name

I’m a little confused by the chain of events (might a flow chart be of use?), but I’ll muddle through. First, take full responsibility for the e-mail you sent. You can go old-school if need be and send your friends an actual letter (there are these things called stamps …) if that’s the only way of reaching them. Apologize, and explain why you were feeling vulnerable, without making it seem like an excuse. If they’ve been so quick to turn their backs on you, however, I can’t help but wonder what kind of friends they are. It might be time to re-evaluate.

Finally, seek out some support about your dad’s drinking. That’s tough for anyone to go through and sounds like a much deeper problem. Al-Anon is a great place to start.

Talk back to Dr. Andrea by leaving a comment below. To ask a question for Baggage Check in the Express print edition, e-mail baggage@readexpress.com or submit an anonymous question here.

Art by Ben Claassen III for Express

Dr. Andrea Bonior writes Express' advice column, Baggage Check.
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Betsy Lowther | April 26, 2010