A Type Of Generosity That Hurt An Individual’s Own Family In Dickinson, North Dakota

I came to know a family that was from Dickinson, North Dakota.  Both sets of great grandparents were from Dickinson.  All of the family members knew the hardships of being poor farmers.  By the 1980s, the last of their farms were sold, although they retained the mineral rights.

Each of the family members became employed in occupations in Dickinson.  In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, jobs paid very low wages in Dickinson.  The young adults continued to live at home, even past the point of being young.  The members of this family just bumped along, often in debt, often with different financial crises.

In about 2007 when the Oil Boom came back, the parents were very old.  Beginning in about 2008, the elderly parents began receiving oil revenue checks because they had retained the mineral rights on the farm that they had sold in the 1980s.  Immediately, distant family members pleaded with them for money, which they freely gave to help with what appeared to be a much more desperate need than themselves or their children had.

By 2009, the five adult children began requesting money from their parents when they needed it, some of the children more than others, for food, gas, rent, tires, car repair, car insurance, doctor visits.  Some of the children were receiving about $20,000 per year in assistance from their elderly parents.

Though $20,000 per year might have been what each of the family members had earned in their occupations for many years, they now became unable to get by even with $20,000 in gift money each year from their elderly parents. The adult children were not jerks or badly behaved, mostly, but they did get way off balance in their lives.

In small ways throughout the day, they spent too much, wasted too much, did not do enough, and did not earn enough.  They made up for their shortfall in money, by asking for money from their parents.

I came to Dickinson during the peak of the Oil Boom.  I did not know anyone in North Dakota, or what was going on.  I had several jobs of short duration, but I did not have difficulty in getting jobs.  I met some long time local residents, some of them members of this family that I am now describing.  One of them was very, very under-employed, getting by with money from his parents.  Several times I got him to work with me, and through this work he earned $64,000, though some of it was taken out in taxes.

This person is old now, but not old enough to begin collecting social security retirement.  The Oil Boom is over.  His elderly parents are no longer receiving oil revenue payments.  I don’t know what is going to happen to him, or to some of his other family members because they were barely getting by at the peak of the Oil Boom with financial assistance from their parents.

What I blame for this, is ten years ago, he and his other family members were able to earn enough to just barely get by, but once they started receiving oil revenue money, they slacked off in many different ways:  not seeking difficult, demanding, high paying employment;  not seeking employment with a high amount of responsibility;  not asking friends, acquaintances, or relatives for employment;  not searching hard for employment;  not seeking self employment opportunities; not considering having more than one job;  being lazy; over indulging in small pleasures, entertainment, and time wasters.

What the elderly parents thought would benefit and help their adult children, actually caused them to slack off in so many ways that no one was keeping track of, that they are now unable to support themselves.

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