Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tradition of Supporting one's parents?

So him over at MakeLoveNotDebt, posed a very interesting question here about parents expecting support from children because of their cultural background. There was a huge amount of responses, plus many other bloggers including mapgirl, LA money guy, etc discussed their thoughts about this. What do I think?

Well I personally believe that parents shouldn't expect their children to support them in retirement. Why? Because their kids will likely be struggling with raising their own children, saving for retirement, and a mortgage. So it'll be tough for them to support their parents. But as we know this is not the case in Asian society.

Historically in an Asian society, parents come and live with you, raise your children, and you support them. It's not uncommon for multi-generational households to exist. Nor is it uncommon to send money home to your parents for their enjoyment. But often these same parents have paid completely for college, graduate school, and a DP on a car and a home, so they have given a lot to their children, possibly at the expense of their retirement. Well thought out? No. Feasible? Maybe.

I don't know, I preach saving for retirement over college savings. I also preach depending on your children a bad idea, and I firmly believe that. HOWEVER, I myself personally will be helping out my parents and in-laws. And DH is in sync with this feeling. We are both children of immigrants so to us, we were raised a bit differently. We do not want our children to support us, but we are hoping to help our parents. Our parents have been extremely successful, but they have also supported their parents financially. So to us we've sort of known since we've meet that we're going to help our parents out financially as soon as we can. That's part of our living large.

Our plans? Well we hope to have a large house to allow any family member who needs to live with us. Second, we plan on purchasing three homes, one for us, and one for each of our parents. This home will be ours but our parents can live there rent free if they choose. Ideally we'd like to live somewhere cheap enough that we could buy land and build three homes, but it's unlikely. Currently my widowed grandmother has the offer on the table to come and live with us. What??? Yes, we've offered and we meant it. Right now she lives in my parents second home. Guess that explains why I feel we should be buying homes for both our parents near to us. DH suggested building the home by the way, so I'm not railroading him into anything.

So I can see how what I'm saying save for retirement, don't count on your kids, etc sounds contradictory to what I'm doing. But to me personally I want to help my parents. This is NOT them asking AT ALL. I am not obligated, but I am choosing to help them. With my in-laws the same thing, they are NOT asking for help, but we want to help them. We would like to be able to make sure they are able to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

I won't jeopardize our retirement for this, but I will try and maximize our earnings, not spend foolishly, and save as much as possible. This is probably another reason DH and I need to save so much now, and not have children yet. Because we are trying to build a large enough cushion to help our families.

So culturally do Asian parents expect this? Maybe, I don't know. I think personally that it is more a sense of respect and gratefulness that you feel to your parents that drives this feeling of owing them something. It's not forced giving, like giving away to tithe, you do it because you want to. And we want to give our parents things, we'd love to buy them cars and take them on trips. Hopefully in 10 years we'll be able to afford it. And we'd love for them to never worry about money because if need be we can help.

But obligation and duty are not the reasons we are doing this. It just makes us happy.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if someday I'll have to support my parents. I'm sure they have something saved, but I'm not sure it's even close to enough.

As of now, I would feel resentful, because they aren't very careful with their money and it doesn't seem fair to me that they can go out to eat all the time while I save my money.

But I think as I mature, my attitude will change, and I'll think of all they've done for me. I hope so!

Living Almost Large said...

Well you can either resent them or appreciate what they did for you. Perhaps it didn't seem like they did a lot, for sure my grandparents did not monetarily help any of their kids. Their kids supported them from a very early age. But they gave in other ways. Just well things happen and life happens.

NIUiceprincess said...

My dad is in the Philippines and my sister and I send him a small sum of money a month ($50 for me, $100 for her coz she makes more). It helps supplement his pension. However, this money goes a long way there because cost of living is so low. We also bought him stuff like a new bed and small repairs in our childhood home (also very cheap).

I think culture really makes a difference because my dad and mom worked hard to pay for a private school education while we were growing up (the way to go, as the public school education is there is pretty bad), as well as put food in our table and made sure our house is paid off.

and what makes me want to give more to them is because not once did they ask for help. or expect us to give them money in the first place, now that we're working. but i know that can't be said for the other asian families where it is expected.

however, i don't plan on asking my kids for money or for them to support me. sure they are welcome to give me money if they want to =) but i won't expect it, and i want to mkae sure they are on a good financial position in the first place to do so.

i'd also eventually welcome my parents to live with me if they want to, because i don't like the idea of putting them in a nursing home. but my parents seem happy to retire in the philippines...they would be surrounded by relatives and cost of hired help (nurse, maids) is really cheap.

Living Almost Large said...

I feel strange saying save for retirement and don't expect help from the kids. And I plan on helping...arrgh. But the difference I guess is neither parents expect us to help them, I think they will appreciate it and do now, but they don't want help. For mother's day I sent my mom quite a lot of stuff, and it was my grandmother's birthday and they BOTH horrified at how much I spent.

I didn't think it was a lot. They really have no idea that all these years I've been spending so much because usually it's peonies, very expensive flowers I send. But this year I sent something different. Anyway they were like "too much" but I think they liked it secretly.