A generation ago Little Sis persuaded Mum, recently widowed, to guarantee a loan to her husband’s employer so he could buy a set of tyres for the semi the husband drove. Otherwise he was out of a job.
All seemed well until the bank sent Mum a letter of demand for something like half the value of her house for which Dad had slaved most of his life to provide. The boss had made no repayments and apparently never intended to!
On legal advice, she sold the house super quick, gave the money to her daughters, then declared herself bankrupt. That left Mum without a house, so from then on she ‘shared herself’ around her children. Mum was never a burden and helped out in any way she could so we were all eager to have her stay.
So life went on for the next thirty years until she was suddenly incapacitated after a severe stroke. There followed over a year when Jen and I nursed her in Jen’s house. Eventually we became so exhausted that a nursing home was the only solution. We visited almost every day, but she died after a further year of relative misery.
That scenario is played out over and over as surviving parents are persuaded to finance (usually) the less successful offspring’s great ‘business opportunity’ and go broke doing it. In most cases other sources of finance have been exhausted, so Mum or Dad become the lender of last resort. It feels mean to refuse so they write the check.
Several years ago, my youngest asked me to invest the last of my laughably diminished ‘wealth’ in a business her husband was keen to initiate. It looked good on paper, but it was outside my area of expertise so I refused.
Within a year, the marriage exploded in a flurry of tragic mistakes and stupidity, leaving the ex-loving couple bogged down in a war of attrition! All combatants suffered wounds as did children and bystanders. Now, years later, recriminations continue as each blames the other for the bankruptcies that followed foreclosure when liabilities exceeded assets.
But life goes on and she remarried, has two more children to a good money manager who does quite well without my support and I’m still in everyone’s good books. If I had lent the money, it would have gone to help poor Westpac survive its bad debts, they would feel forever guilty and I would be forever furious. Sometimes I get it right!