Vent - Controlling Parents?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Vent - Controlling Parents?
Wed, 10-17-2012 - 4:26pm

Ok another vent, but I have been in tears the last day and a half.

As many of you know, I am remarried and my first husband passed away after we divorced.  In the divorce he got our ski boat, but later he was short on cash and offered to sell it to me for $3k, so I paid it with $2k of my own, $1k from my dad.  Took the boat up to our cabin and we used it since 2008. It is a 1980 ski boat, we put $500 into it in 2010, and this summer the engine blew (head gasket or something major.)  Mechanic said over $2k to fix, not worth it as we have a couple other boats, including a pontoon and jet skis. 

In the meantime, I have paid my parents house taxes a couple times at about $3k total.  So I kind of figured the debt to them paid.

Well I offered this dead boat (now valued at less than $600) to my cousin who is always there for us and he even needed to buy tires because they were so old and shot.  On the way home, the bearings on the trailer went, so he had issues in pouring rain.  Again, the boat is pretty toasted at 32 years old.  This cousin has also helped our family COUNTLESS times and they actually see my parents more than my brother, he has done things for my parents, helped move me and just been there all the time.

Well I mentioned it to my mom in a phone conversation and she got all up in arms.  She asked if I had asked my dad about it, etc.  I honestly didn't think it was a big deal, thought our debt was paid and thought I was doing a great thing in keeping it in the family and actually getting it closer to their home (as my cousin lives much closer to them.)  Gosh, someone will use it now!  I honestly thought this was a really great thing!  Better than selling it for $200 to a stranger or trashing it, right?  They don't want it and can't store it at their house as they are in the burbs with regulations.  My dad is too old to fix it (mid 70s) it and has not used it or even come up to see us in over 2 years.

My dad called suggesting I needed to offer it to my brother (who does not need anything, let alone a broken boat - besides my brother does not want it - I did ask!)  My gosh, point is that I didn't try to do anything underhanded.  I thought it was the best course of action.

And yes, I will pay them the $1000 AGAIN!  If that will make peace.  (But I doubt it as my mother needs to control where everything in the family goes, despite how it might hurt any personal relationships - things area always more important than people in her world.)

Lesson 1: NEVER take money from family!! 

Lesson 2: NEVER, EVER take money from family!!  NO MATTER HOW GREAT you think your relationship is.

Lesson 3:  NEVER TELL a controlling parent anything about your life.  Just talk about the weather.





Avatar for CMEvelyn
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2012
Wed, 10-17-2012 - 8:57pm

Hi Marie,

For what it's worth, I think you did a really nice thing, and I'm sure your cousin appreciates it too!

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Thu, 10-18-2012 - 11:11am

This is so unfortunate.  I guess the real lesson is, "Don't take money from people who value things more than people." 

Not everyone is like that, of course.  My parents have been very generous with us; even when they called it a loan, they gave what they could afford to lose.  But I think you've made an important distinction:  if someone values money/things more than relationships/people, they are not people you want to take money from.

I'm sorry you're suffering from that relationship.  You did a nice thing for your cousin and you tried to do all the right things.  Try to be at peace with yourself in that knowledge.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 10-18-2012 - 12:37pm
Hugs Marie!!! I agree with Mahopac, not all relatives are like that. My parents have been amazingly generous with us, as has my middle brother. The times the have loaned me money, even though they say its a loan, they have always meant it as a gift and if I pay them back (which I always thoroughly intent to), its just a bonus for them. Every time they have loaned us money its been something for the kids (NY trip for ODD last spring break and newer car for ODD when the truck that they gave her broke down completely). Its more stressful on me paying them back, because its always later than I planned and in smaller payments that I want, but they never say anything to me about it, and still continue to contribute to ODD's college fund and continually send gifts and clothes for the little girls whenever my mom comes across a good deal at work. I am sorry your mom made you feel that way. You have done so much, in your own life, and obviously helping them with taxes!! Hugs!
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 10-18-2012 - 4:45pm

Ugh!  With me it was/is my xMIL.  I really feel for those of you who have to deal with this in regards to bio family. 

I don't see where you did anything wrong.  I mean, did you say a 32 year old boat?!   Hello! 

So sorry, hugs.....

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2003
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 10:35am

I'm very sorry you were made to feel that way Marie.  I believe what you did was well intentioned and not underhanded.  Unfortunately it's a lesson learned where your parents are concerned.  


"It is said that life has its peaks and valleys.  The challenge is to accept them equally and experience them

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 2:23pm
Thanks all, your comments were helpful - and yes, the boat was 32 years old!! I bought it used in 1986, put money into it a couple times for repairs, then bought it back from my X, put more into it, and now the engine blew, which meant a cracked block and major repairs. Honestly I don't know how my cousins will fix it and even our boat mechanic said he could only give us $200 for parts. My mom is complaining about my daughter's toys in her basement, but would not let me take the Beenie Babies in boxes or any other today until she goes through them, because they could be valuable. Again, she is complaining, they are not HER toys, they are my DAUGHTERS, but we can't take them... HELLO??? This is why she only has one child/grandchild who even called her on her birthday (my DD) out of 6 grandkids. (I took her out for her birthday the previous Sunday as I was traveling on her day.) Argghh!
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2001
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 3:27pm

I'm sorry . . . but I have to ask . . . why are you putting up with this? 

It's seems just like silly petty stuff that your parents are making into something that it isn't.

Was there any mention of an agreement that your help with their taxes would offset the boat "loan"?  If there wasn't then I suppose your mother has a point.  But, honestly, it's just seems like this is about control and nothing at all to do with money.

I think I would have said, "Oh mom, don't be ridiculous.  Our help with your taxes more than offset the boat loan years ago.  I don't think I had any obligation to inform you how I chose to dispose of the boat."  And end the subject.  DO NOT engage with defending yourself.  It's your boat.  You don't owe anyone an explanation.

I mean you can say, "I'm sorry that hurt your feelings.  That wasn't my intention" but I wouldn't waste another breath defending yourself since you know you didn't do anything that requires a defense - ykwim?

The toy thing . . . more petty control issues really.  My MIL was like that (actually IS like that, but I choose not to engage with her about this sort of thing), telling the children she had presents for them at her house, and trying to make them jump through hoops to actually get their hands on them.  I think you should take a hard stance with your mother and say, "I will be by your house at such and such time to retrieve the toys.  If you don't get the chance to sort through them by then, please feel free to donate them to Goodwill." And be done with that sillyness. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2012
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 10:47am
we went threw this with my husbund side of the family his sister thinks we got a lot of money when we had to keep a secert from them when his mom gave it to a church and we promised her we would not tell them and she died with altimerzier so she didnt remember we used to vist her in the nursing home and they didnt know and we still keep her secert and of course they still think we have a lot of money its sad cause her son is termainlly ill and his sisters are still pissed at him for something he didnt do and yet they did not ever ask us so its their lose but we did have his mom every day she was alive and would do it again it all started when one daughter lied to her and had her put in a crazy ward as mom called it thats why shegave it away.
Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 2:39pm


So sorry you had to have this blow up like this. Apparently your mother is a scorekeeper: someone who is good at subtracting but conveniently overlooks "addition" when it comes to herself. By the way, if you ever pay their property taxes again document that in writing and keep it. I'd also never borrow or lend family (or friends) money for any reason. I only did it once to help my sister and she paid me back in furniture, which was fine with me (less than $1,000). But even a $1,000 can be a sore point as you know.

One thing: if your parents are borrowing money from family to pay their property taxes then it's time to evaluate whether they can afford to keep the family home. They either need to sell it and move to an apartment or downsized property, or find another way to generate some income to pay those. I understand completely you don't want them to lose their home. I see too many seniors with no mortgage who can't really afford to stay in the "old house" out of sentimental reasons when they can't afford their property taxes. Either that or your parents need a budget..