No. of Recommendations: 75
While its easy talking about whether or not to give a family member a loan --- less is said of being on the borrowing end of the equation.

As an adult I've had two occasions to borrow from family members.

When I got out of grad school I was flat broke and was lucky enough to get a good job which required that I have a car. I borrowed $600 (1974) from my brother to buy an old car, and repaid him over three months.

A couple of years ago, I had a bad back injury which left me unable to walk and unable to care for myself. My brother and sister in law offered, and insisted, that I move in with them, which I did. Other than a few bucks for direct expenses they incurred, they wouldn't accept any payment for the very valuable help they offered me.

And, in my view, my sister in law took some real risks by inviting a bachelor brother in law into her home. Getting relatives out can be a problem, and you never can be sure what mischief might be caused by someone.

Since I have a keen sense of obligation, it would have been easier for me to put a pricetag on their help and pay them whatever they wanted for it. Instead, I am left with a continuing obligation to them, which I bear, I hope, in as generous and friendly a way as the help they gave me. This actually drew me much closer to their family, and we have had many occasions to do things together since then. I have been able to find occasions to make gifts that are useful and welcome.

We commonly talk about the social pressures to loan money or help to family members. I suggest that it is an opportunity for the borrower or consumer of such credit to learn something about being a good and responsible family members as well.

The responsible consumer of such a gift will not take it for granted, but will remember it, cherish it, and repay it with money if possible and with the love and good faith that caused it to be made in the first place if that's the only coin available.

To leave the lender feeling that they've been exploited or taken advanatge of, or used, is thoughtless and selfish. Friendship and family love goes, or ought to go, both ways.

Seattle Pioneer

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