Most parents raise their kids, support them financially and care for them throughout their lives, usually safe in the knowledge that one day they will return the favour.
But now a worried woman has sparked debate over how far that obligation should go – and just where to draw the line.
Writing on social forum Reddit, the 22-year-old daughter pleaded for advice after her parents – who are nearing retirement – told her they expected her to financially support them and her brother when they retire.
Despite living separate lives following a difficult divorce, neither of them have any savings after they were both left bankrupt. Meanwhile, she explained her brother struggles with social skills and is failing at his studies – with little prospect of getting work.
“My bioparents historically have made poor decisions (married after dating for 2 months), were in a toxic relationship, and without love or empathy. They divorced 4 years ago after they went bankrupt ($750k in debt),” she said.
Having spent years working to support herself and getting a successful career in engineering, the woman was hoping to retire early herself – but is now facing the prospect of giving up all her own savings to support her family.
Her mother, 50, has chosen to start studying again in psychology and is currently being supported by a partner. However, she isn’t hopeful of the relationship lasting or leading to marriage. Meanwhile, her father, 60, recently refinanced his house meaning it will take another 30 years to pay off, and has no hope of ever retiring on the wage he’s currently earning.
“They can’t really turn to relatives because my parents got tens of thousands from their siblings already and now they won’t help them…” She added.
“My mom told me I’m the retirement plan. How can I politely extract myself from having to support my bioparents and my brother in the future? And more importantly, how do I justify my decision to them without feeling like a complete piece of s**t? They like the ‘I raised you’ card and ‘I was going through a hard time’ card. I understand the cards were against them… but… I was hurt too, and I found a way past that s**t. Why can’t they?”
Admitting she doesn’t want their future to be in her hands, it sparked a mixed response from other users with some advising she simply say no, while others admitted it was more complex than that.
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“Simply tell them no,” one wrote. “We all get a life to live they lived theirs but you aren’t going to fix the mistakes they made. You made the right ones without them and want to enjoy your life. You love them but you will not support them when you are successful. It’s not your responsibility nor should the expect it to be.”
Another added: “On the one hand, it’s okay to tell them no. However, expect resentment if you are living well retired at 35 (20+ years sooner than most people).
“If that happens, and your family sees you taking trips, living in an expensive house, and not working, then I can see resentment if they are struggling with jobs when they are in their 60s. Fair? No. Understandable? Yes.”
Meanwhile, one wrote: “There is no magic trick here.”