Family

Daughter's change of heart rings of selfishness

Dear Carolyn: Upon my parents' death, my sibling and I equitably and happily divided our small inheritance equally. Each of us, including our children, was allowed to pick items from my parents' household that they especially wanted. All valuable items were included in the estate and were sold, and the proceedings were divided equally.

Each of the three granddaughters was allowed to pick one ring of my mother's as a keepsake. She had one that we all knew was more valuable than the rest. One of my daughters chose this one, and because she seemed to want it for sentimental reasons, everyone was generous about letting her have it despite its somewhat higher value.

We had the ring appraised a few months after the estate was settled and discovered that it was worth almost 10 times what we expected, but again, because it was a sentimental choice, no one contested the issue.

Now, several years later, my daughter is talking about selling the ring! I was stunned and told her I thought she was obligated to share the proceeds with her siblings and cousins after taking a slightly larger share for herself. If my daughter had not taken the ring, we had planned to have it appraised, sold and the profits divided.

My daughter says she cannot see any reason why she is obliged to share this income. I am astonished that she doesn't understand this. Am I crazy, or does sharing seem like the only right thing to do? — A Disappointed Mom

Answer: You're not crazy; your daughter is being obtuse at best, or at worst, greedy. I'm sorry.

Perhaps a clearer explanation will penetrate the self-interest coating her heart: "Even though having this ring meant you received a significantly larger share of the estate, everyone agreed to it because you seemed so attached to the piece emotionally. Now that you want to sell it, it's clear there was no attachment.

"Does that mean you owe us all a share of the proceeds? No. Technically, it is yours to do with as you wish. But it does mean you are profiting off our kindness, and it will bother me a lot if that doesn't bother you at all."

Dear Carolyn: Is it weird that my dad likes to hang out with my two sisters and me without our significant others, and without his wife and stepson, every now and then? My husband sure thinks so. My dad never says my husband isn't welcome — I just sometimes know he'd like to do things as a foursome. Thoughts? — C.

Answer: Among people who spent years — rewarding ones — living together, there is comfort and familiarity that nothing else can touch. They might be immediate family, sleep-away campers, college roommates, troops, teammates, even some colleagues.

What's weird to me is that your husband doesn't get that (or doesn't want to). Sure, if your dad always herds his girls into private conversation, "weird" is back on the table — but the occasional just-us time with grown kids? That, to me, is a gift.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon each Friday at Washingtonpost.com.

Washington Post Writers Group

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