Attorney daughter needs to set limits with dad

Helping a relative has its limits, Hax says.
Boundaries should be set — and respected.



February 13, 2020 - 9:34 AM

Carolyn Hax

Hi, Carolyn: My father is having a legal issue (not criminal) and has been asking for my help. I’m a lawyer. I’m sure others manage to help family in this way, but I’ve found it extremely stressful. He doesn’t always tell me the whole situation, is disorganized, doesn’t always take my advice and any call turns into a half-hour rant about his case. He doesn’t respect the boundaries I put in place. For example, if something is due on Friday and I say in advance I can’t help on Thursday, he will inevitably send it to me on Thursday afternoon, knowing I would never refuse him help.

I’m becoming resentful and frustrated, and it’s showing. Any advice? — Lawyer

Lawyer: You need to respect your boundaries. If he sends you something on Thursday afternoon, then you need to refuse to do it, as you said. When he starts to rant, interrupt him after X minutes (decide beforehand what your boundary is, but even one minute sounds generous) and tell him you have to go.

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