Many of Us Helped a Family and Now the Mom Is Jealous/mad???

Updated on December 02, 2011
K.B. asks from Dulles, VA
24 answers

My question is should I go back to anonymous giving? I can't send a money order to someone like her because she doesn't handle money well. I helped with specific bills and paid directly, plus bought food, gas, clothes, and such.

The parents both had jobs earning enough to support both kids, then hers ended. they admitted they pay late fees every month and other bad decisions. Every time they pay a bill off, they go in debt for something else.

Anyways, they have 2 kids with special needs so I asked her husband and her if my husband and I could babysit, help with job leads, pay specific bills and take them shopping for NEEDED things and birthday gifts. They said yes. Her parents and other friends did so as well. In fact, a group of us was going to pay 6 months of her mortgage if she didn't get a job and she was told when she was super worrried. Plus, she made the kids feel they were in danger of being homeless. It upset them much more and frankly is the first setback they have since switching to a special school. We wanted her to quit venting to her children or in front of them.

She told me with her vacation pay and all the donations, she actually made more money than ever. I told her I was happy for her and now she could get ahead of her bills. Her father said the same thing.

Then she confessed she knows she should be grateful but she is mad at everyone who helped them. She is jealous because we all have it so easy we can afford to give money away. We took our gift out of our tithe because her family needed it more than the church.

My husband agrees with her dad. We should never help them because it makes her angry and bitter and she is going to waste the extra money instead of getting ahead. I don't know that for sure, but I do think it may have ended our friendship on her part.
She is avoiding all of us and I respect her need for space.

Should we go back to anonymous giving only? Was it a mistake to help this much?

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So What Happened?

Well, today she phoned and wants to get together to fix me lunch. I will accept gratefully. I am sure we did nothing wrong and we asked ahead of time. She admitted her father pressured her into accepting a job she didn't want and now she feels stuck. I am going to start using the phrase "Pay it forward when you can." That is a great concept and feels less intrusive.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Giving is giving.
You don't give or not give based on the reaction you get.

Now if it makes you feel so angry that it makes you bitter....stop.

If you know deep down you gave help for the right reasons....keep giving.

The secret of giving is to give in such a way where the recipient has his/her dignity in tact and that YOU are getting the benefit of giving.
Gifts should always be free of any attached strings.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It wasn't a mistake. It's never a mistake to help someone, whether or not they deserve it.

I don't entirely understand the story, or where they are financially at this point, so I can't advise what to do. Sometimes you just have to do what is right, regardless of how the other person handles it.

Maybe she's avoiding people because she's embarrassed?

Do what you think is right, regardless of her reaction or how she spends money. If that means you give supplies vs. money, that's fine. If that means you don't give at all, that's fine too.

Helping people is its own reward.

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answers from Norfolk on

I can sort of understand.
She's irresponsible with money and she was given a LOT.
In a way, it's kind of like giving alcohol to an alcoholic.
Advice like 'you can use it responsibly' is well meaning, but she has a problem that she CAN"T walk the straight and narrow with it.
I'm not saying her attitude is right but I can see how she got there.
She is not beyond help, BUT I would not be giving her huge lump sums of help she can not handle.
You want to help an alcoholic on the street - you hand him a sandwich and a cup of coffee - not cash because it WILL go to booze if that's the kind of help he gets.

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answers from Hartford on

It wasn't a mistake. I honestly think that her anger and bitterness aren't towards the people who have helped her, but towards herself. She probably feels like a failure for being unable to provide what her family needed and it's a huge hit against her pride and ego. It's not easy for people to accept help even when things like this aren't really their fault.

I'm certain that she really is grateful. Her admission of her additional feelings probably just mean that she feels comfortable enough with you to let you know that she has conflicting feelings and needed to vent to you. That doesn't mean that you "should" go back to anonymous giving (although I can understand that you would) or that the whole thing with her was a mistake.

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answers from Provo on

Before you make any judgements on this remember one thing --- it is VERY VERY hard to receive this kind of generosity. It makes the recipient feel inadequate that they cannot do it themselves. It invites jealousy of those whose lives look so much easier than hers because of the monetary surplus that you enjoy. And then because the recipient isn't feeling all gushy grateful inside for what has been done, they feel bad that they aren't so thankful for all the help.

Personally, I don't think your friendship is done on her part or your part. She obviously still feels close enough to you to confess that she feels mad when she knows she should feel grateful. Maybe you, and all the other givers, should find a way for her to give too. Since she is out of a job right now, she has TIME to give. Giving back will help her to feel that gratitude she knows she's supposed to be feeling (but isn't) over the gift you all have given to her.

Good luck with this. Giving on this order of magnitude is generous and kind, but is a road filled with pitfalls that you have to navigate carefully.

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Rachel. It is time for everyone to start teaching her how to fish..instead of giving fish.

She is embarrassed and mad at what life has thrown her(and maybe poor choices on her part)...which is where the anger comes from. I don't think it was a mistake to help her. Your hearts were all in the right place. But, if she acts like this then you need to pull back. We all have different struggles and need for deliverance in our lives. Your struggles just don't happen to be the same as hers. Be a friend. Help babysit occasionally to give the couple a break or if she is out looking for a job. But, I would pull back from all the financial help. Take them dinner. But, do not throw more money their way. And don't keep talking about it. Just mention once that you are all sorry to have made her feel uncomfortable and inadequate...and then drop the subject.

Anonymous giving is a good way to go. To this day there were some amazing anonymous donors that helped my family when my dad ditched the family. There are no uncomfortable feelings on either part. Just feelings of immense gratitude!!

Good luck and best have big charitable heart!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I'm sorry this is happening. She is actually being pretty honest for telling you that she is jealous instead of being mean and not saying what's eating at her.

What she needs is to go to counseling. She is mourning the life she had, and she needs to figure out how to let that go and make the kind of decisions that will help her out of her hole, and on the road to financial health. Financial counseling is great, but she needs a counselor for her emotional health as well.

I am amazed that people would help with their mortgage - egads! - I haven't met anyone who will do that. Instead of asking yourself if you made a mistake, talk to her husband about getting financial counseling now before the help runs out, and getting her a counselor as well. She is avoiding you all because she can't deal.

Good luck!

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answers from Richmond on

Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.
Teach a man to fish, he eats for life.

I think she probably needs to learn to stand on her own 2 feet, and she needs to struggle in order to get there, so she can truly appreciate it.

I'd stop giving completely, and let her figure out how truly hard it is, and that she should be ashamed of herself for biting the hand that feeds.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Umm..... isn't it interesting that she thinks simply because someone gives to her that they can actually afford it.. My BIO mother was that way, I'd give her a check for some money and she would assume I had the money to give. When really, I had to give up things in order to give the money to her... and sometimes, I gave up essential things....... Anyway, my advice.. maybe see if you can sign her up for a money management class... or give her Dave Ramsey's Book.. << he has lots of good advice..

you know the old saying...... give a person a fish and they eat for a day... teach them how to fish and they eat for a lifetime... sounds like it's time to get out the old fishing gear............. otherwise, yeah.. just give anonymously... and NEVER cash...

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answers from Portland on

Gifting and generosity are pretty tricky – the emotional reaction of the receiver can be wildly unpredictable. I have learned to wait until someone actually asks me for help, and even that can result in unpleasant resentment and feelings of obligation in both giver and receiver. The giver, because you do hope your generosity will be used well, and the receiver, because they want privacy and the right to free agency.

Once you start to factor in the codependent needs of some givers, and the dependent needs of some receivers, it can all go to hell in the long run. I have a LOT of experience with these factors within my own family.

Then there is the kind of resentment your receiver displays. Some people, no matter how much or how little they have, are envious of those who have more. There's no fixing that from the outside; any changes that happen in those folk probably occurs from some dramatic life event.

In the case you describe, I would gently suggest that your generous giving had a tinge of co-dependency about it. Giving further, considering the results so far, would be truly codependent. Read up on this online; there are numerous sites which describe codependent or enabling tendencies, how to identify them, and how to deal with them.

But I'm glad you have a willingness to help out. Probably better to do this through agencies that have many desperate and grateful families relying on the generosity of strangers.

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answers from Dallas on

I have a motto that I try to follow. I will help those who help themselves. And of course if they are appreciative of the help. If they refuse to help themselves and they aren't appreciative, my help stops. If you don't, they will take advantage of you.

You can't help someone who continues to make bad choices. You might as well be throwing your money out the window. I would pull back if I were you. Maybe she needs to get back to the bottom to wake up. She needs to realize that she is taking all of this help in the wrong way. Instead of complaining and getting angry about it, she needs to do something to better her situation and show appreciation to those who have helped her in her time of need.

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answers from Washington DC on

No one has it "easy"...she shouldn't be jealous. It sounds more like frustration and being scared of the situation rather than jealousy and that's the only word she could come up to put it out there.

She is mad because she's in this boat. Some of it her own doing (bad decisions) and some of it not (losing her job unless she did something wrong to get fired).

If she needs help again - offer her direction instead of financial support. I don't think you ruined anything. I think you are a wonderful W. and friend for getting people together to help someone in need.

If anyone ruined anything it was this W. you were trying to help. She didn't "make" money - people who worked hard, gave it to her with no hard feelings or stating what was to be done with the money. If she squanders it - that's HER bad.

Just breathe and pray. God will know your heart was in the right place and if she believes, she will get over it and God will show her that the people who helped her and her family were doing it out of love and concern.

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answers from Dallas on

I wouldn't help this girl anymore. She's got lessons to learn that your good will is keeping her from. I think, in this case, it would be more charitable to let her fail.

I hope her distress is coming from her own guilt and embarassment. It's hard to be the one recieving help sometimes. You feel everyone thinks they have the right to watch and comment on how you spend money. Tha's why I insist on being self sufficent. I don't want to have to justify my expenditures to anyone. It's a hard pill to swallow and costs you some self respect.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think that whatever the reason, she's not open to receiving these gifts.

When a coworker at my husband's office lost her home and most of their belongings in a fire last year, gifts POURED in. She returned some of the clothes I got for her and I rehomed them with someone else. DH said she was quiet about her needs and seemed to have trouble accepting charity.

I think that if this person does not want the charity that you go back to being generous to others. There are many who would accept it and maybe it is easier to not have to look at the giver and feel beholden to him/her. She may now not just feel jealous, but like everybody looks at her like she's less-than.

Maybe instead of giving money, continue to be a friend and offer to do things for them not because they need you to but because you are a friend and want to. Sometimes I think we are overzealous in our giving when we think we can 'fix it' and it's not always the best path. I learned a lot from DH's coworker. I still give, but I do so differently.

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answers from Philadelphia on

i think she probab;y feels awkard and ashamed that she needed the help. I would. Give her time.

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answers from Detroit on

I can understand why you feel this way and, yes, maybe that's a good way to go. The thing that gets me about your friend is she told you that, yes, she would like the help. She then went on to be ungrateful, resentful and it sounds like possibly irresponsible. One thing I've heard over and over is that friendships can end over money and it's recommended not to give friends money or go into business with them.

I understand that it's hard to watch a friend go through this and do nothing. Perhaps an anonymous donation of a gift gard for a particular store or letting a relative of her's know that an anonymous donor would like to pay the light bill, etc. At any rate, the poor treatment was unwarranted and I'm sorry your kind heart and generosity did not receive the proper treatment.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

This reminds me of a Dr. Phil episode many years ago when he said 'You can't fix money problems with money'. If you think about it there is so much truth to that. People with money problems will continue to make the same mistakes whether they have $1 or $1,000,000.

I think it is admirable what you did and I'm sorry to hear that it may have ended your friendship. Moving forward maybe you could just give to agencies that help people in their situation. It might not benefit them directly but it will help someone like them. Your church probably has social services as well so maybe just go back to giving it to them.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I made a mistake with a distant family member a few years back. Sort situation you did. She had just adopted 3 special needs boys, and then her and her husbands world's kinda fell apart. Most of our family helped her the way we could. She had an old car for sale, and we bought it for far more than it was worth. However, we had made a mention of its condition and problems to a different family member and it got back to them some how. They were less than cordial with what they thought of us and our money, and where we could put it if we ever wanted to try to help the "rednecks" again. This was never said about them from us, we only stated that the car smelled of animal and that it needed tie-rods and they would have known about that before selling it, and it would have been nice to know it before we bought it. That was all that was said. Now after that incident we do not have any dealings with her or my Great Aunt who is her M.. That is sad, we have lost some our family for trying to be generous and helpful. I guess I feel as well that its better to donate anonymous as well.

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answers from Portland on

I've learned thru the years to not give help unless I'm asked to do so. I may offer but then honor their wishes. When I take it on myself to help someone I'm interfering in their life. They usually feel that because I'm giving them something, I'm trying to control the way they live.

I helped my adult daughter for years and we both had quite a bit of resentment. Her, because she felt, and stated so, that she was obligated to then do things my way. Me, because she didn't appreciate my help.

She needed my help and I don't know how she would've managed without it. She learned in counseling that she needed to take back control of her life and to do so she needed to learn how to manage without my help.

Fast track to now. She is independent but does ask me for help from time to time. She tells me what she needs. i.e. I don't decide what I want to give. I decide if that's something I can give. We are now independent of each other and on good terms with each other.

You gave with a good heart. If you made a mistake, it was in not knowing how such generous gifts would affect your friend. You learn from the experience and either stop giving or find ways of giving that doesn't cause the other person to feel dependent on you and your gifts.

I might ask her how you can help. Apologize for "taking over" and deciding what to give and ask her how you can help so that she feels good about it. If she's too upset now for that conversation, wait until later. In the meantime stop the giving. It's unhealthy for all involved when the gift creates hard feelings.

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answers from New York on

Just a guess, but it's not anger and bitterness that she is expressing. It's likely embarassment and hopelessness.

Having said that, true charity is done without an expectation of anything in return (good or bad). Brush it off and know that you did something for her out of compassion and care. If she pushes you away, then she is the one on the losing end.

Sometimes people push others away when they feel obligated or accountable to the person. It's your money, but you gave it to her. What they do with it has implicit strings attached and she knows it.

My BIL lived with us for over a year because he was in debt and couldn't afford to live on his own. During that time, he frivolously spent his money- ate out, shopped, etc- but when we made the offer to have him live with us until he finished school there were no contingencies attached. It was frustrating and hurtful to watch and on some level he has now distanced himself from the family (which hurts my husband and their sister), but you can't force someone to be grateful.

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answers from Kansas City on

Well you certainly are a special friend to do this for her. Have you prayed about this? I would suggest that. But I am wondering, would she rather be bitter and have her bills not paid, or bitter and have her bills paid. She has a lot of growing up to do. And sometimes when you make mature good decisions, good things happen to you. I don't know what else to say, I'd be stuck on this one too.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

You heart is where is should be and that is what matters. You have to answer to God at the end of the day and so will she.

You will be able to say "I know what your teachings are about taking care of my neighbor and I did that Father. I acted as I knew I was supposed to.". He will know you did.

She will also have to answer for her actions about her stewardship of the gifts he gave her. She may learn, yet in life, that lesson. It is often hard for people to learn how to manage money well. I am in my 50's and have a very hard time doing that. Being at rock bottom and trying to find enough change to go buy a gallon of milk for the kids is eye opening and sometimes it comes to that for people to realize the value of a dollar.

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answers from Birmingham on

I don't believe you can ever go wrong in helping someone, especially someone with special needs children. It probably would be a better idea to go back to helping her anonymously. If you don't trust her to spend the money on bills, pay them in her family's name. Give them gift cards or gift certificates for food and gifts for the children. Unless the family were in danger of losing their home, it might not be a good idea to pay so much on their mortgage. I am sure she is embarassed but give her time. She is grateful and will be able to express it to you.

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answers from Eugene on

It always depends on who is receiving the help. Your friend and her husband need to go to Debtors Anonymous as they will overspend forever if they don't get help.

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