Well, the same people who bring us into the world are obviously older than us – and sometimes can age right before our eyes. One day, our parents may be young and full of energy – but later, they can get older and have difficulties. These same people that bring us into the world might need help later.
This gets me thinking: what responsibility do we each have to help aging parents with money? This includes helping them financially.
Now, it’s fair to say that when it comes to parents and family, no two people have the same exact life experience. Some people grew up in two-parent households, some not. Some had parents that financially supported them through school and beyond, while others had parents who – by choice or necessity – gave them nothing beyond the bare minimum. Some of us had loving parents, while others had a different situation.
You get the idea – our life experiences with our parents are probably not exactly the same. Thus, this might impact the level of responsibility we feel toward them.
This can be different throughout the world. Different cultures have varying degrees of practices in place surrounding the role of parents in one’s adult life. This can include supporting with them and living with them. It seems like in our Western Society – particularly in the U.S. and Canada – the foundational concept seems to be that once we leave home, we’re on our own financially. And, correspondingly, so are our parents.
I don’t know if I totally like that. The way I see it, at least based on my own experience, if my parents invested their time, energy, and money into raising me all through childhood, shouldn’t I be thankful for this? Isn’t it just a bit cold to take the approach of “that was their job to do that”?
My view on this is that without them, I wouldn’t be here. That’s enough to appreciate as a basic fact. Beyond that, all the time, energy, and resources that a parent devotes to a child are collectively a powerful thing. I know how much my own kids mean to me, and how much my life actually revolves around raising them. I pour myself into it, and think that my own parents did too a generation ago.
So, my current view on the topic is that on this:
- One the one hand, as adults, we should all aim to be self-sufficient. Meaning, that ideally our parents have saved enough for themselves and won’t need our help in any way. Best for everyone, as we want to focus on our own lives when younger, and they wouldn’t want to be a burden when older.
- On the other hand, if they can’t take care of basic needs and have some comfort in their old age, we as kids should be there to step in and help out. Keep in mind I’m not talking about sacrificing our future retirement so they can live in luxury. Rather, that if we’re living extremely comfortably while they have financial issues, shouldn’t we feel the need to make their lives a little bit better? Admittedly, I’m probably influenced by my own experiences.
What Do You Think?
Do you believe that as adults, we have some level of responsibility to help out our parents financially?
If so, at what point does this come into play? If their situation is truly dire, or if they’re simply living a harder life than they should at their age?
Do you think that the responsibility to help, if there is any to begin with, should depend on what they (or each individually) did for you when raising you?