DEAR ABBY: My dad had a stroke. My siblings and I (there are three of us) needed someone to care for him, since we all work full time. I asked my stepson, "Miles," who was living in Tennessee, if he could help us out by moving to Washington state and caring for Dad during the day (Miles works nights), given that Dad needed 24/7 care. My siblings and I didn't want to put him into a nursing home.
Within two weeks, Miles had given up his life in Tennessee and moved across the country to help. Because he was helping us, we didn't ask him to pay rent. His generosity saved us thousands of dollars in nursing home fees, and Dad was much happier living at home.
Dad passed away early this year, and my siblings and I are in the process of selling the house. Miles is still living with me in the house because I inherited Dad's two dogs. He takes care of the dogs and such while I'm gone for various reasons. He has been a huge help and I still haven't asked him to pay rent, given his sacrifice to serve our needs during a time of crisis. The problem is, my sister thinks Miles should now pay rent until the home is sold. My brother and I disagree. My brother says if it's fine with me, it's fine with him.
I feel like I'm "paying it forward" for the help Miles gave not only to us, but our dad. He earns a minimal salary and pays for half the utilities and most of the food. Asking him for rent until we sell the house feels selfish to me, given that he unselfishly relinquished his previous life for my family. Am I wrong not asking him for rent? We expect to sell the home within six months or less. -- NEEDING GUIDANCE IN WASHINGTON
DEAR NEEDING: Your stepson is selfless and generous. I do not think he should be expected to pay to live with you under these circumstances, so stand your ground. However, I do think that Miles should be giving serious thought to finding a job that will pay him more than a "minimal" salary because in six months, once your father's house is sold, he'll need a roof over his head. Please encourage him to do so, and if he needs training to reach his goals, encourage him to get it.