Dear Abby: If I bug niece for the money she owes me, it might hurt our relationship

Though she’s been drawing a salary for two years, the young woman hasn’t paid back $1,600 of the loan.

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DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, my adult niece, with whom I am very close, found herself in some legal difficulties and needed an attorney. At the time, due to some medical issues, she wasn’t working and could not afford the attorney’s retainer, so I offered to lend her the money. I told her she could repay me once she began working again.

Nine months later she sent me a check for $500 and, two months after that, another one for $500. The retainer was $2,600. My niece has been steadily employed for the last two years, yet I have received no further payment. I regret that I didn’t set up a formal repayment plan, but I never dreamed she’d default on the loan.

Her mother told me she is saving up to buy a house and, apparently, she has money to spend on friends and others. I never told her parents that I loaned her the money, and I have no idea if she ever did, although I assume she hasn’t. I’m torn between approaching my niece to remind her that the loan has not yet been repaid and risk damaging the relationship we have, or suck it up and accept that I’ll never see the money.

Because of the pandemic, my husband has been out of work for many months. While we are not desperate, the money she owes me could be put to good use. Please advise. — GOOD DEED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR GOOD DEED: Meet with or contact your niece to ask her for the money she still owes you and, when you do, explain that your husband hasn’t worked in many months and you need it. Agree upon a repayment plan. However, if she reneges again, DO discuss it with her parents. Perhaps they can “encourage” their daughter to do the right thing. There must be a reason they didn’t front her the money for her legal problem. Let’s hope it wasn’t because she stiffed them, too.

DEAR ABBY: A female relative wants to have a child. She is 30. However, her significant other of six years hasn’t proposed. She feels her biological clock is ticking — loudly. What would you suggest family advise her to do?

I feel that a woman who wants a child should have one if she can afford to, regardless of whether or not she’s married. But I understand her preferring to be married first. Time is running out on the likelihood of developing a new relationship this late in the process. What’s a girl to do? — WONDERING IN OHIO

DEAR WONDERING: The “girl” should ask her boyfriend of six years if he wants to be married to her. If the answer is yes, AND he wants to be a father, her problem will be solved. However, if the answer is no — and she can afford it — she should proceed on her path to motherhood without him. Someone may come into her life later who would love to be a husband and a dad. And, if not, she will have fulfilled her biological imperative.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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