How to say NO to family, nicely
Last updated 3/11/2019 at Noon
My husband passed away two years ago, and I now feel ready to face up to the next 30 years assuming I live that long. The travel bug has bitten me, and I plan to go on several trips abroad each year. I am a retired pharmacist and I want to volunteer with World Vision for service in South America. Although my home is easy to manage and suits me just fine, my kids [37 and 42] are strongly urging me to sell my house and move into a senior community. They’ve also asked to borrow money so they can invest in their own homes; one to buy a condo and the other for remodeling. It seems like they want an inheritance now and, frankly, it pisses me off. I love my kids and want them to be happy; it’s hard to say no. As far as moving, I can see some positives, but just do not want to live in the midst of people all of the time. I value my solitude and quiet. How can I get my kids to back off? I don’t want to make them mad at me.
Signed: Hard to say no
Dear Say No,
What a tightrope you are walking between your own desired future and your adult children’s opinions about your life. How very difficult to wade out of grief into a dreamed-of-life ahead and notice your family’s interference. And you believe they are motivated by self-interest. Here are some things you might consider.
Do you have a financial advisor, and have you evaluated your financial life ahead? Do you have enough to last for your lifetime? Are you ready to move now? It seems like you enjoy your quiet home, there are no physical limitations in your living there, and you can afford it. When and if your situation changes, it will be time to re-evaluate.
Families often try to manipulate each other out of self-interest, sadly. The manipulation comes in the form of “if you don’t do X then I’ll not love you,” or “do X to prove you love me.” If there are arguments and raised voices and threats, then immediate, professional counseling is advised. Even if this is not your case, it is time for more open conversations.
Could you possibly be a bit angry about the passing of your husband? One of my clients let slip that she was very angry with her deceased husband for “leaving her” and because she had no outlet, she transferred the anger to her kids. Ouch! It took several conversations for her to see the truth of her feelings and find healthier ways of managing them. This is something for self-reflection in the near future.
Depending upon your estate size and your intentions of financial legacy, then helping your adult children understand your position can result from convening purposeful conversations about your future and your money. It’s hard, especially now that you’re alone, to stand against your family opinions. Did you know there are coaches or advisors like me, seasoned in family conversations about values and goals and intentions? Objectivity is pivotal in keeping your wishes first and building peace in the family.
If your estate is sufficient that you will not suffer, some might suggest there is another way to help your kids get what they want and at the same time be more responsible. This could be the estate acting as the banker and lending money. It’s another tightrope, however, when you lend money to family members. Agreements must be clear, and breaking them can divide a family for life. It really is neither your best interest nor your kids’.
Do you know about tough love? Yes, it’s hard to say no to those you love. What I’ve noticed is when you cave in, you are actually robbing them of pride in their own ingenuity to solve problems and to accomplish their goals. The shift in thinking is this: When you say yes to emotional manipulation, then your loved ones will be less able in the future. So, you must say no. Even if it hurts. You can be nice about it, but still say no.
It takes some hard thinking and practice to have difficult conversations, but you can doit. Remember that help is available if you want it.
SharonAnn Hamilton, MBA, CFP®, MSFS is founder of Freedom Quest Academy, working with women and women in business who seek financial freedom and joyful living. She is a fiduciary, consultant, coach, and author. Email: FreedomQuestAcademy@gmail.com. She facilitates The Council for Women, a faith-based group of women professionals whose mission is education for empowering women who want to be in charge of their inheritance, estate, and retirement. Want more? Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org