DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: You blew it when you recently recommended to siblings who were divvying up a deceased parent’s personal effects that they draw straws before each round.
When my mother died, my sister and I both really wanted two of Mom’s treasured belongings. Our other siblings made us draw straws for each of the two items, and my sister won both draws. So she wound up with two nice things for her home, and I ended up empty-handed. How can that be fair? — L.S., greater Kansas City area
DEAR L.S.: You’ve got us wrong. Our advice was to four siblings who were about to take turns choosing among a large number of items. To them, we recommended randomly assigning the order in which the siblings chose in each round to make sure that the same person didn’t get the first, second, third or last choice every time.
But when there are only two people and only two items, there’s only one round — and that means there should have been only one drawing of straws. So show this column to your sister and see if you can persuade her that she’s entitled to her choice of those two treasures but not to both of them.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My mother played favorites with us kids when we were growing up, and she’s doing it again with her grandchildren. In particular, she often gives significantly more expensive birthday and holiday gifts to my 11-year-old son than to his sisters, and she looks for opportunities to slip him a twenty whenever she sees him. My daughters are now old enough to notice, and it bothers them. It bothers me, too, and I feel like telling my mother to stop giving gifts or treats to any of my kids and to stick to greeting cards.
What worries me, though, is that in protecting my girls, I’ll be denying my son the benefit of Mom’s generosity. Plus my husband says I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. He thinks the best course is to simply explain to our daughters that their grandmother doesn’t know any better. What should I do? — Annie
DEAR ANNIE: Just how tough are times for your 11-year-old son that you’re concerned about him losing his grandmother’s patronage?
Seriously, people like your mother often know full well that their behavior is hurtful. But they enjoy the power that comes from setting people against one another, and they believe they’re locking in the love and loyalty of their designated favorites. Even if your mother isn’t self-aware, though, you shouldn’t allow her to make trouble in your family. So go ahead and pull the plug on her gift-giving.
Be sure, though, to tell your son to let you know if Granny secretly presses cash or gifts on him. From what you’ve said, we’d guess she’s easily capable of refusing to play by the new rules.
Unemployed dad should not use daughter’s name for cable
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: A friend used his 15-year-old daughter’s name to sign up for cable service. He said he had no other choice because when he lost his job and was unable to pay his bill, the cable company cut him off. Now he’s falling behind on his payments again, and the cable company probably will wind up cutting off the service that’s in his daughter’s name, too. Can the fact that my friend is unemployed possibly make it OK for him to use his daughter this way? — P.W.
DEAR P.W.: Only if you believe the three basic human needs are food, shelter and cable service.
No, your friend’s lack of employment does not make what he’s doing OK. He’s in effect stealing service from the cable company, he’s tarnishing his daughter’s name and, quite possibly, he’s damaging her credit rating.
Our advice: Keep an eye on your wallet when you’re around this guy. He seems to be seriously short on integrity.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate