I have a family member who I only hear from when she needs money. This puts me in a very awkward position. I have worked very hard for what I have, and she doesn’t work at all. I try not to be judgmental of her life choices, but it is hard not to when she calls for a hand out. I also end up feeling very guilty because I do have the money and am able to help. What should I do?  

This is a tough spot to be in. The combination of family and money can really add a lot of stress to a relationship. I think it is best to address this issue head on with an honest conversation about how you feel when asked for money. 

I know we have all heard about the importance of using “I” statements, but this is an effective way to help keep a conversation from becoming accusatory. Instead of making comments about what you think about your family member’s life choices you can say, “I really feel awkward being asked for money. What are other ways that I can help?”.

You have worked hard and should not feel guilty because you have money. There are many ways to help someone besides giving them cash. 

Perhaps you can get involved before there is a money crisis and offer some support in teaching her about money management. There may also be different resources in the area where your cousin lives that can help her out during tough times. For example, if she can save grocery money by going to a food pantry, she could use that money towards other obligations.

My 3-year-old nephew does not talk a lot. I am worried that he might have something wrong with him, but my brother and his wife seem to be oblivious to any possible issues. Should I say something to them? What should I say?

This is a hard topic to address without more information. It is obvious by your question that you care a great deal about your nephew. The best I can do is to provide some gentle guidance on how to approach this situation. 

The first thing I would like to do is address the statement you make that says “he might have something wrong with him.” 

No parent wants to hear there is something wrong with their child. Children come in many different shapes and sizes. While there tends to be general development milestones that society bases behaviors on, this does not mean something is wrong if a child is not meeting a milestone by a certain age. 

A good approach to raising children is to identify the strengths of a child and use them to help support any area that may need to be strengthened. Do you think if you share with your nephew’s parents the strengths you see they may trust you with any worries and concerns about his language development? 

If you approach parents with a strength perspective, they are likely to feel supported. I can tell you from personal experience that my son said very little for the first three years of his life because his older siblings talked for him.

If you have a question that you think will help others, please send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com.

This column is not intended to provide counseling/legal advice. Before you undertake any action, you should consult your own social worker/counselor. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Sherrie Faulkner of Rantoul, who writes a monthly column for the Rantoul Press, is a supporter of the local community. If you have a question that you think will help others, you may send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com