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I gifted my daughter $400,000, now she says she needs space

DEAR ABBY: Over the course of 12 years, my husband and I have gifted more than $400,000 in down-payment money to our adult daughter and her husband. Both are now in their mid-40s. I gave them most of this money behind my husband’s back. 

Recently, my daughter has been pressing me for more money, saying, “good grandparents/parents help their kids.” I give them $1,200 a month in cash and student loan payments, and I have done this for 10 years. I finally told my husband about my deceit, and he is being incredibly forgiving of me. He understands I have insecurity issues, and I worry about losing my daughter’s love and contact with our grandchildren. 

Two years ago, our daughter told us that due to our “difficult personalities,” she needed boundaries, and my husband and I were allowed to visit only one week a year (they live 3,000 miles away). This came as a shock, since my husband cared for our grandchildren from birth until the family moved away when the kids were 4 and 6. We have traveled with them and thought we were close. 

Given all this, I told my daughter I felt manipulated, and I was giving them a two-month notice before ending the monthly contributions. She has now cut off all contact with us — blocked all phones and social media. I’m devastated. I feel hopeless and I am seeking counseling. I can’t shake the feeling I’m at fault. Your thoughts? — BLOCKED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR BLOCKED: Your only “fault” rests with the fact that you gave your manipulative and ungrateful daughter a LOT of money and concealed it from your husband. You can’t make someone love you by buying their affection. (It’s either there or it isn’t.) As you can see now, doing so was fruitless. 

Your daughter is using your love for the grands to punish you for not forking over even more. (And she thinks YOU have a “difficult personality”? Wow!) I’m overjoyed that you will be discussing this sorry situation with a licensed mental health professional. It’s the surest way I know of to quit blaming yourself and to regain your emotional balance. 

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who, any time we ate out, if a server tried to take her empty plate, and others around her weren’t done eating, would stick her hand out to prevent the server from taking her plate. She says it’s rude to take a plate when others haven’t finished their meal. I think it is rude for her to do that to the server. I have mentioned this to her only once and we’ve been friends for 30 years. What do you think? — DINING OUT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DINING: I don’t think your friend is rude. According to Emily Post, when a server removes someone’s plate before everyone is finished eating, it can leave the impression that those still eating are holding things up, and those who are done can be left feeling that they rushed the meal. 

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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