No Need To Buy Parents Fancy-Shmancy Condo

By Wendy Belzberg

Published January 24, 2003, issue of January 24, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

My parents asked me to buy them a condominium in a swank building. I can afford to do so (even though the amount is not pocket change to me), but I turned them down. My parents have saved up all of their lives and have put aside a sizeable nest egg. They have the financial wherewithal to purchase the apartment for themselves. Since I said no, I sense a distance between us. I would help my parents if they needed food, clothing and shelter even if I could not afford it, but last time I read the Ten Commandments it didn’t mention that children are responsible for purchasing their parents a condo in an exclusive high-rise.

Overtaxed by expectations

Parenting isn’t an investment any canny broker would make: It requires massive outlays, with no guaranteed returns. And at best, the returns are intangible ones. Which is to say there is no obligation to buy your parents a condo. There is an obligation to pay dividends in love and attention. A gift certificate for regular visits to the condo your parents buy themselves sounds about right to me.

* * *

Last week my 4-year-old caught me in a white lie. She overheard me tell my sister-in-law that one of my children was sick and that we would be unable to attend the family dinner. My husband finds get-togethers with his family so stressful that I was doing him a favor by bowing out of the dinner without hurting anyone’s feelings. I saved my husband, but I raised a lot of questions for my daughter. Now what?

— Caught in the act

I know there are many people who believe that lying of any kind — even a smallish white lie — is unacceptable. I don’t happen to stand on that side of the fence. Depending on how old your child is, I suggest you now tell her as much of the truth as you feel she is able to understand. She isn’t too young to hear that people sometimes beg off of invitations, even if she is too young to hear that people sometimes beg off of invitations issued by their own families. In the future, best not to use your own children as part of any lie you may spin. Not simply because you could get caught — as you did — but because there is something sordid about using your children to do your dirty work. Oddly enough, children often keep us on the straight and narrow as much as our own consciences do.

* * *

I have spent hundreds of hours volunteering at my children’s school and am an active member of the parent council. My kids love the school and would hate to leave, but there seems to be a problem with loose lips. After discussing my daughter’s personal problem with one of her teachers, I learned that this teacher had told another student — who then told others — about our conversation. In a separate incident I approached the principal about a suspicion my daughter had concerning her music teacher. The principal then talked this over with the music teacher, indicating who had lodged the complaint. Should I change schools?

— Grape whine

There are indeed loose lips around, and they include those on your own face. In the first case, the teacher clearly betrayed your confidence. However, the teacher would have been in no such position had you not betrayed your daughter’s confidence in the first place. Did you ask her permission before entering into this discussion with her teacher? As for the second incident, the McCarthy era is over; if you lodge a complaint against a teacher, he or she must be permitted to defend himself. It may indeed be time for you to change schools: Volunteer your hundreds of hours elsewhere and create a clearer line between your life and your children’s. They, however, should remain where they are happy — which is to say exactly where they are.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.