Dear Dr. Archer,
My mom is bipolar, on disability, and living on her own. She is constantly needing money from my sisters and me for food and gas. I realize part of her condition makes her spend money impulsively. The question is, do I keep giving her money every time she needs it?
I'm a university student paying for everything myself with loans. I really can't afford to give her money, but I feel badly if she doesn't have food or gas. What do I do?
If mom has the propensity to spend money she doesn't have, do not give her the money. Instead, take her to the store and buy necessities together.
Take her to the gas station and put the gas in her car yourself. DO NOT give money and expect her to be responsible about how she spends it, because you say yourself she spends impulsively.
This way you're helping your mom but also know where the money is going. If your mom insists she needs the cash, gently but firmly deny that request. Your education is paramount, and if mom has a roof over her head and food in the house, she's better off than many others.
Good luck to you both.