Dear Amy:

My son and his wife have been divorced for years.

I am a senior citizen with a much smaller income than when I was working. I have been paying my granddaughter's college tuition for the past two years. It is $14,000 per year. Her parents have been paying $3,500 each toward room and board per year.

My granddaughter has moved back home and will be attending college locally, so there is no room and board, but the tuition is still $14,000 per year.

I feel the parents should help by kicking in $2,000 each per year (less than they were paying) and I will pay the remaining $10,000, which really comes out to more than $10,000 because I have to take it out of a 401(k), and you know that means I have to pay taxes on that money. The parents can afford to pay their fair share but really don't want to. They feel that because I promised to pay the tuition I should shoulder the full amount.

What do you think is fair here? (Please don't suggest that my granddaughter should get a loan.)

Grandmother

These parents should give you a break. Your deal sounds more than equitable.

However, your granddaughter also has a role to play in this money drama. She should be working to contribute to her college fund, either with a part-time job or by researching scholarships or grants that she might apply for.

Speak with your accountant about dipping into your 401(k) for educational costs. You might find a program that will permit you to do so without penalty.

Dear Amy:

You asked for feedback from women who have had affairs with married men.

Many moons ago I had an affair with a married man and I learned the hard way that if he cheated on his wife then he would cheat on me.

On top of that, the relationship left me with baggage. But as providence would have it, one of the worst mistakes of my life produced one of my greatest joys. That baggage caused me to grow up and accept responsibility for my own actions.

Strangely, I didn't get angry with him or his wife and certainly not his kids. I willingly contributed to my circumstances. I could only blame myself. Nor did I go after him for child support. A guilty conscience kept me from doing that.

In the end, my baggage grew up, vowing not to repeat my mistakes. When my ex-lover and his wife attended the ceremony celebrating my child's master's degree, I finally got to apologize to her for my actions so many years before. She graciously accepted.

Their children have formed a close and loving bond with my child that one of their kids initiated when word of an outside sibling came to light.

Been There, Done That

I love these real-life stories -- especially when they involve people taking responsibility for their actions and the consequences.

Congratulations to you, your "baggage" and the whole extended family!

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

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