Posted by: Anon | 2012-12-11

Parents and money

Hi there CS

I''m 21 and have been living with my boyfriend since I was 17, we don''t have a lot but we try to work responsibly and we have never been in any kind of financial trouble. We make due but forgo a lot of luxuries. I feel guilty taking or asking for anything from my parents, I don''t feel that it''s their responsibility to support me anymore.
My sister (26) and her husband has been leaning so heavily on my parents, my dad has payed for deposits and flat rent when they couldn''t afford it, they have moved back home and stayed for months at a time, my parents have payed for petrol, outstanding medical bills, speeding tickets, payed off debts etc. they have never repaid a cent of it. My brother-in-laws parents have bought them expensive appliances and even payed for the building materials and labour to build them a house (which they have sold) and now I must wonder what do they spend their OWN money on that they are always in debt.

I speak to my parents frequently and told them some time ago that we are plannning to move in to a bigger apartment at the end of the year. This weekend my dad told me that if we manage to find a place he wants to pay the deposit for us. He also told me that he wants to give me the same wedding he was able to give my sister, if we decide on something smaller they want to give us the difference as a wedding gift. They feel that they owe me this because of what they have been doing to help my sister over the years.

It would be so nice to be able to accept those gifts, but I don''t feel that they owe me anything and I would probably end up feeling guilty for taking what little they have for their retirement and I know they are not that well off.

I see my friends who recieve expensive gifts like cars, who doesn''t have to pay a cent towards their own studies, whose nails and hair are always done etc.( I haven''t even been able to get haircut this year!), no one seems to feel remotely bad for taking things from their parents. What''s right and what''s wrong?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Its not necessarily about what they might feel they owe you ( and still less about what you feel they owe you )- sometimes you need to be generous enough to allow people who sincerely want to give you something, to make that gift, and accept gracefully.
No need to automatically feel guilty, and it might put you in a better position to be able to help them in turn if later they need assistance.
Yes, apparently your sister is a shameless leach, and the many gifts have not in a very important sense actually helped her, as they don't seem to have learned any basic realism in managing their finances, and may run into awful problems when the gift-givers are no longer around.
Also, maybe one needs also to look at the fact that what they give you will at least not get wasted on your wastrel sister.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lucy | 2012-12-11

Accepting honours the giver :-)

Reply to Lucy
Posted by: Purple | 2012-12-11

Its wonderful to see how much you treasure your relationship wiht your parents.

Have you explained to your parents that you appreciate very much what they are offering but feel guilty to take from them as you feel you should be supporting yourself?

Do bear in mind though that if they have spare and they want to help you out in this way, that you should let them? I never understood this until I had children, but you very much want to help your children succeed in life - you want them to do better than you did, you want to ease things for them. Now its not good to do that by spoiling them or ensuring they never face a challenge, but if your parents feel that you have shown that you are responsible with money and they have offered and want to help you out while they are able to, is there harm in letting them? You could take the equivalent amount and put it into a savings account and let it grow with interest and then if they ever need help as they age, you have something to help them with?

My parents gave us all an education and gave us a large enough allowance during that time to cover our rent and groceries etc so that we didn''t have to work while studying. We all know from before primary school that our education included going to university and that we wouldn''t be paying for it. After that, if we moved back home or needed anything from our parents, they have been happy to help us out - but they need to be put back in their same position - so we have repaid with interest. However, when they were happy we were standing on our own two feet, they have helped us out with deposits on property, school fees for our children, holidays - the only proviso - that we open an investment account and put away that amount in case we need it later. My parents have made it clear that they want to do this for us and that if it caused hardship for them they wouldn''t do it.

Its an accident of birth to have wealthy parents, and despite all this I have worked very hard to achieve the things I''ve achieved in life. I''m extremely grateful to my parents for the help they give us. Although I don''t donate money to charities, I regularly provide practical skills to the charities and to the people they help and volunteer for an NGO which I find extremely fulfilling. I also work as does my husband.

Why not chat to your parents and openly and honestly tell them how you feel, but don''t be too proud to accept gifts of financial help from them if they want to and are able to give it. If you can''t even get your hair done, can you afford to move to a larger home wihtout their help?

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Maria | 2012-12-11

Well done for being so independent. What a pity that your sister is such a leach. I suggest you allow your dad to contribute something if that''s what he really wants to do. You can always give back the money in some way later, e.g. holding a birthday party for one of your parents when they reach a milestone age.

Reply to Maria

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