Nephew needs love right now

November 20, 2011 

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are adopting my nephew. His mom is involved with drugs and alcohol, and his father isn't in the picture. We've got $1,000 in the bank, and we're in the process of paying off all our debt, except the house. Should we slow down or stop the Baby Steps temporarily, and spend more on family things since my nephew is a teenager?

- Jocelyn

Dear Jocelyn,

Hugs are free. Making cookies costs next to nothing, and spending quality time with a young man or woman doesn't cost a thing. I call that a teenager-friendly environment.

I know your heart is in the right place, but I don't want you to fall into the American trap of thinking he'll be happy if he has a Wii or you take expensive vacations every year. It sounds to me like he's coming straight out of a big mess. He wants and needs someone to put their arms around him, tell him he's a good guy, and teach him how to grow into a strong man.

Doing some affordable family things once in a while is OK, if you can make it work with your budget. But I wouldn't spend a bunch of money to try and prove that you love him. You've already proven that by bringing him into your home and making him part of your family. Continue cleaning up your finances. Then, when you've actually got some money to spend, you all can do some really cool stuff together.

You guys are awesome.

- Dave

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