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Old 03-26-2014, 05:44 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,299 posts, read 17,340,310 times
Reputation: 27215

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My home area in east TN has a rather poor economy, high crime, and has a large amount of social dysfunction (lots of domestic crime, drug issues, frequent murder-suicides, etc). It's not quite Camden, Gary, or Detroit, but it keeps declining. While never great, it used to not be this bad.

My parents are from the same area, but were never able to get a job in their field (elementary education) there. After bouncing around a few towns teaching, my mother's parents eventually guilt-tripped my parents into coming back. Since then, they haven't had "careers," just jobs, and never made much money.

Dad got laid off from a factory in summer 2007 and ended up taking a lower paying call center job, which he's still at. They've burned through most of their retirement savings trying to stay afloat. Bill collectors call daily. At 56, they will be lucky to keep their house, much less retire.

My peers who have stayed in the area are mostly stuck in call centers, retail, and fast food. I moved away from the area, moved back, got laid off, and had my income cut in half. I finally did get a decent job, more then doubled my income from back home, and moved away again.

I've tried telling my parents that they are on the road to financial ruin and losing everything in their old age. They don't see to have any urge to do better or to move. They haven't lived anywhere else in twenty years, so they don't seem to get that things aren't as bad elsewhere as they are at home. No matter how many murders they see or how little they make, they can't seem to register that what they are living in is not normal.

I don't have anything personally against my parents and love them, but they keep making these self-destructive decisions. I don't want to see them broke and homeless. Just being in the area and even being in the home is depressing to me - the home needs repairs they can't afford and has a lot of black mold.

I'm going back to get the rest of my things next week, but should I even try to deal with them anymore? We've always been very close, but don't have the same perspectives at all anymore. I've told my dad that I have nothing personally against him or how I was raised, but that I don't want to see them in such hardship and don't even want to come back to the town.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:05 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
7,215 posts, read 7,880,375 times
Reputation: 7740
Just tell them, "You are free to come visit me, but I won't be coming back here ever again." Then leave. Maybe they'll come to their senses eventually, but probably not.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:16 AM
 
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,112 posts, read 11,992,787 times
Reputation: 16543
You are smart...get a great job or career and send them money.
Then build a cottage on your property for them in their later years.
Or buy a duplex...one level, no stairs for them.
20 years goes buy so fast. They need help to see life can be better.
Yes, find a city with opportunities!!!
Good for you, make money!!!
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:53 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
5,659 posts, read 4,361,283 times
Reputation: 11604
You have no control over your parents' inertia. But you have already said your peace and made your decisions. No need to make absolute statements like "I will never return.".

Just go home, get your stuff and kiss them as you depart. Stay in touch and invite them to visit when you want to see them. Respect their decisions just as you deserve they respect yours.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:04 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 66,998,726 times
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I totally get what you are describing. I am in western NC and know eastern TN fairly well.

Your parents are in a state of inertia -- they just don't have the will to make the changes. They are probably dealing with some level of depression, as well, and don't even realize it. The familiar becomes routine and things deteriorate around folks and they don't even see it, really.

But it is home. So people just slip into the downward spiral -- whole communities -- and few find the energy to make the changes. People give up without even being fully aware that they have "given up."

Here's the thing . . . lecturing or even trying to have a discussion with folks in denial won't get you anywhere. I know you are frustrated with the lack of initiative and the disregard for longterm change for the future . . . but your parents are caught in a web of familiarity and at some point, even with things falling down around them, there is a level of comfort in the familiar (including the familiar faces around town).

Don't say anything about never coming to see them again. Rather, encourage them to come see you and finance their trip, if you must. Once you get them into a different environment, maybe they will "see" for themselves that life doesn't have to be the way they are living now.

Do research once you get settled and find out what they could afford as far as rentals. Do your parents still have their teaching credentials? Would they consider teaching again? If not, can you research what work would be available to them if they moved to your new location?

You mentioned black mold . . . is there any way their house would even sell if they put it on the market? Remediation of black mold is a huge issue.

If you could come up with something ON PAPER to show them how they could make the move and have better lives (and afford to live elsewhere) maybe they would be more inclined to discuss it while visiting you in your new home.

The one thing that may be impossible to overcome is your grandparents. It sounds like your parents are staying where they are mainly b/c their parents are there. How does this fit into the situation?

It may be a totally wasted effort to try to get them to move. I know you are saddened to see their lives on this course, but they may be so entrenched that they can't face starting over somewhere new. Just keep that in mind - that even with all the effort you put into showing them around your new town and with the info you will provide for them re: jobs and housing, they may not be receptive. At least you will know you did everything in your power to try to convince them to make changes.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,299 posts, read 17,340,310 times
Reputation: 27215
Quote:
Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
I totally get what you are describing. I am in western NC and know eastern TN fairly well.

Your parents are in a state of inertia -- they just don't have the will to make the changes. They are probably dealing with some level of depression, as well, and don't even realize it. The familiar becomes routine and things deteriorate around folks and they don't even see it, really.


But it is home. So people just slip into the downward spiral -- whole communities -- and few find the energy to make the changes. People give up without even being fully aware that they have "given up."

Here's the thing . . . lecturing or even trying to have a discussion with folks in denial won't get you anywhere. I know you are frustrated with the lack of initiative and the disregard for longterm change for the future . . . but your parents are caught in a web of familiarity and at some point, even with things falling down around them, there is a level of comfort in the familiar (including the familiar faces around town).

Don't say anything about never coming to see them again. Rather, encourage them to come see you and finance their trip, if you must. Once you get them into a different environment, maybe they will "see" for themselves that life doesn't have to be the way they are living now.

Do research once you get settled and find out what they could afford as far as rentals. Do your parents still have their teaching credentials? Would they consider teaching again? If not, can you research what work would be available to them if they moved to your new location?

You mentioned black mold . . . is there any way their house would even sell if they put it on the market? Remediation of black mold is a huge issue.

If you could come up with something ON PAPER to show them how they could make the move and have better lives (and afford to live elsewhere) maybe they would be more inclined to discuss it while visiting you in your new home.

The one thing that may be impossible to overcome is your grandparents. It sounds like your parents are staying where they are mainly b/c their parents are there. How does this fit into the situation?

It may be a totally wasted effort to try to get them to move. I know you are saddened to see their lives on this course, but they may be so entrenched that they can't face starting over somewhere new. Just keep that in mind - that even with all the effort you put into showing them around your new town and with the info you will provide for them re: jobs and housing, they may not be receptive. At least you will know you did everything in your power to try to convince them to make changes.
Excellent post. I totally agree that they are in a state of inertia and are not thinking clearly. When he lost his job in 2007, he took a pay cut of a third (went from $45k to $30k), tripled his commute (35 miles round trip to 100 miles), and ended up paying about 4% in state income taxes working in VA when he was paying no income tax working in TN. He's still only making about $15/hr after seven years, but works night shift for a 15% shift premium. Mother only makes about $35k working in loan operations at a local bank for nine years. She has nearly thirty years experience in local banks.

What he should have been thinking when he lost the job was "I lost my job and I'm making less, so I need to find a job making more." After a year or two, he should have seen it wasn't working and started making plans to relocate. He should have begun taking action in 2009-2010 when things were clearly not working out locally, but more years have passed, they're older, and in a worse financial positon.

They always have an excuse for not taking action. He didn't leave in 2007-2010 "because I was still in college," but was working and in my early 20s and obviously able to take care of myself. He's saying now that his parents are "too old" and doesn't want to leave them because "the next time he sees them, they'll be dead," even though all my remaining grandparents are in decent health and the other children have provided more assistance when it's been needed.

He has an extra lot that would probably bring $15k-$20k, but makes no effort to sell it because he doesn't "want someone building that close to him." However, my mother isn't in the best of health, and he can't seem to accept or just plain refuses that if she has to stop working, they won't be able to stay in the home.

Some of it has been plain bad luck, but it's also been compounded by the decisions they've made. Given his long commute and work schedule, hitting a deer is a major concern. He finally hit one in his paid for, fairly reliable 99 Accord in the fall. The car was totaled, and he had to withdraw from his 401k to buy a 2004 Corolla. The transmission went out in this car three weeks after he got it, which was another $2k, paid for by the grandmother.

Logically it goes like this - had he been working a normal job for a higher wage, he might have had some savings. If he wasn't in such bad shape financially, he wouldn't have to be working nights for the shift premium, so he probably would have never hit the deer and totaled the original car in the first place, and wouldn't have had to withdraw money from retirement to purchase a car in a rush. This doesn't register to them or they refuse to face reality.

I don't think the mold is that huge of an issue. Some sheet rock would have to be torn out and replaced, but I don't think it's severe. The yard is beautiful, but very large (he needs to downsize anyway) and on a steep hill. The neighborhood is safe and quiet. They could get out of the house at least what they paid ($88k) and maybe near what Zillow prices it at ($160k).

He grew up in FL and wants to return. Mother hasn't expressed interest in FL specifically, but I don't she'd be opposed. They do not want to go north where the jobs are. I know FL's economy isn't fantastic, but I don't see how they can do much worse. Their teaching credentials are expired.

The grandparents have actually been fairly supportive and understanding and have said they would move if they were in my shoes. The most frustrating part of all this is that there has been absolutely no planning for the future and they don't understand they're going to run off the cliff in ten years or so, less if she has health problems. There is no small savings of even $1000 for unexpected expenses. The whole deal and its irrationality is just mind-boggling to me.
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Old 03-26-2014, 12:15 PM
 
13,675 posts, read 13,481,602 times
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You've just seen how family can drag you down. Get out while you can. Write your parents off in that respect - they aren't going to change now. If they don't like that you're leaving, they can suck it. They'll be happy for your choices when you can take them in once they've burned through their options.

I'm not saying your parents are bad people, but they've chosen their course. Do not entangle yourself in their misery. Make a new life for yourself. I have seen more than a few of my peers (who were actually raised in relative privilege) sacrifice their wellbeing and futures for parents who have made bad choices. Don't be one of those people.
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Old 03-28-2014, 12:34 PM
 
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
10,370 posts, read 14,211,191 times
Reputation: 22827
1. At their ages finding new jobs anywhere would not be easy, especially if their skill set is just average. Very very few people in that age bracket would be excited about the prospect of having to look for employment. Read all the threads in the work forum about age discrimination.

2. Family matters a lot more to some people than you realize. You don't seem to have strong family ties but your parent(s) may not share your mindset and may feel very close to their own parents or siblings. If there are any grandkids that can also be a very strong pull for some people. Perhaps read some of the threads in the retirement forum about people who struggle with the thought of leaving family behind, perhaps it will give you a better idea how upsetting it can be for some older people.

3. If they have been in the same house for twenty years their house payments are probably quite low. Maybe the thought of having to take on a larger house payment is just too much for them. If there are bill collectors calling daily maybe they aren't even in a position to buy another house and the thought of renting is loathsome to them.

4. Moving to a new and unfamiliar place is much easier when you are younger, so maybe you don't quite realize just how difficult such a thing might be for your parents. Everything from having to find new healthcare providers to learning the layout of a new city can be daunting. Frankly it's one of the reasons I decided to move pre-retirement, so that by the time I'm older and even more set in my ways I'll be comfortable with my surroundings and not have the added stress and worry of having to deal with unfamiliar places or people.
When you're in your twenties or thirties that may not seem like a big deal (it never was for me and I moved a LOT) but when you're retirement starts staring you in the face that attitude can change drastically.

You may not agree with your parents decision but it would be nice if you would at least make an attempt to understand it, instead of just writing them off as being foolish or hard headed.
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:15 PM
 
4,644 posts, read 6,450,544 times
Reputation: 5388
You really need to get them out of that house with the mold.
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,657,488 times
Reputation: 32292
To the OP: I will get in line with several other posters in this thread to say that you should give up the idea of being able to change any other adult, including your parents. Hell, changing a child is difficult to impossible. It may pain you to see your parents suffering because of their own inertia and stubbornness, but once you have expressed your opinions a few times, there is just no point in going on and on about the matter.

And threatening never to come back to visit is an over-reaction, is it not? How would it hurt you to return in order to visit your parents every year or every other year?

Note that I am with you in believing in relocating in order to better our situations; I am just suggesting you should adopt a more realistic stance vis a vis your parents.
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