Visiting Teaching–helping or enabling?

I recently got home from my yearly radical feminist Mormon retreat feeling energized and happy and got a call from one of the women I visit teach. Here’s the transcript–She is “M” and I am “B”:
M: What are you doing during lunch hour tomorrow?
B: I’m not sure—probably eating lunch. What do you need?
M: Well, you’re going to be mad at me.
B: Where are you?
M: Ohio.
B: Thinking—isn’t Ohio where that ne’er do well crack addict lives? The one that spent your $35,000 in back disability payments and then left you? Well, M, what’s going on?
M: I need some money for bus fare to get home.
B: You’ve spent all your money for the entire month?
M: Yes.
B: Did you pay your rent before you left?
M: No.
B: I can’t give you any money.
M: Why not?
B: I’ve loaned you about $700 so far and you’ve never paid me back and you have just made some really bad decisions. I just don’t think it’s good for me to help you this time.
M: Well, don’t call me back then, because I don’t want to hear about it.
B: OK—goodbye.

She later called and asked for $40 for gas money and I told her no again. I guess I finally reached the point where helping turned into enabling—and probably went way past the point. I look at the past 4 years and figure I haven’t helped her one bit, except possibly it’s better that she never went to jail—but I’m now not really sure.

So, on a scale from 1 to 10, one being the least likely and 10 being the most likely, how likely do you think it is that this relationship can or should be saved? Anyway, it was glorious to have a couple of days to leave my real life behind.

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6 responses to “Visiting Teaching–helping or enabling?

  1. 1. I’m still really jealous that I didn’t get to go to the retreat. Derek is never doing this California thing again, so it shouldn’t be a conflict, but I’ve missed this one! Boo hoo.

    2. I think you definitely did the right thing. If the “relationship” consists of her calling you when she’s in trouble and asking for money, there’s nothing you can do to really help her. She doesn’t want your help, she wants your money, as evidenced by her past behavior. You could try setting some boundaries, like telling her you will be there for her emotionally or spiritually, but asking for money is inappropriate. That way, whether or not the relationship can be salvaged will be up to her. There’s nothing that says you need to unquestioningly pay for someone else’s mistakes.

  2. Thanks, Sarah. My head tells me exactly what you’re saying–I just feel really sad to have to be so “stingy”–at least that is how it feels. It’s ironic that I’m the one feeling bad about it, because I don’t think she does! Anyway, I am sure I did the right thing–it just hurts.

  3. Questionably you did the right thing. Is it bad that I am sitting here thinking, “M?? M?? Whose name begins with M?” I will answer that for you — yes.

    I am going to call you, but not to ask for money. We need to go to lunch again! School is over for the summer (though not work for you, of course – boo!) and I am ready to ….eat, I guess.

  4. Oh good! Let’s get together!

  5. Whoops! I meant UNquestionably you did the right thing….

  6. I wish I had your smarts! Luckily, I must intimidate people because other than my children who are never intimidated, no one ever asks for money or I would probably give it to them, but I think you response was perfect, if they haven’t paid their rent and are not being responsible, they need to suffer the consequences for their poor choices.

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