Our generation has a series of financial stereotypes that make us unique. We’re the first generation to have the ability to work for so long, the first generation to change gender stereotypes in the workplace, the first generation to fight for male and female pay equality and we’re the first generation to cop the brunt of financial burden from all angles.
The scenario where the parents fund the children to have an education, healthcare, extra-curricular activities, luxuries like holidays and toys has been a standard stereotype of society for years. But where most people gain complete independence when they come of age around 18 or 21, our children didn’t. The world has got a more expensive place to live and our children’s lifestyle priorities have changed. This has meant that we’re financially providing for our children right into adulthood and beyond. Some estimates believe that around 68% of parents financially aid their adult children to assist with their living expenses. But the giving doesn’t end there.
Our generation is unique because unlike most others, we’re the sandwich generation. We are still funding our children, while also having to provide for our parents. They never had compulsory superannuation and lived their lives with the good faith that one day they’d receive a government-funded pension. Most of them are, but it’s not nearly as much as they once thought it would be.
According to Pew Research, one in three adult children today are supporting their ageing parents financially, and more than 70% who provide funding report that the money is for continuing expenses.
This has left us sandwiched between the two. Funding two extra sets of lives on top of our own and this has meant that we have no choice but to work for longer and do less with our money. But, one day will it be right to ask our children to do the same for us?
A discussion with a friend who has a very independent son in his 20s, who received a good education at a reputable private school and had help from his parents while trying to be a professional sportsman left me shocked. She said, “If we added up all of the money we’ve ever spent on him since he was born we’d be able to buy a luxury car! We really expect him to give it back to us one day.” At first I thought she was joking. But then I learned she was very serious.
They had made sacrifices to give him such a good education and his sport was a priority so instead of a family holiday they sent him to a rugby camp each year. However, they still enjoyed their vices. He was a pack-a-day smoker and she was a big lotto buyer. They still went out for breakfasts and dinners at restaurants and never really budgeted, spending money on trinkets and toys.
On hearing this, I realised that some people like her simply expect that their children will provide for them one day. Not because they outlive their savings or face serious, unmotivated hardship, but simply because they think it’s right. Children are not an investment. Nor should they ever be looked upon as one. As parents, it’s our role to give them the best life we possibly can. We all make sacrifices for them, but it’s what we should do. In fact most people get some joy knowing that the new outfit they could have purchased instead went into an art set for their child to practice with.
I went looking online for the topic to see if anyone had explored it previously and couldn’t find much but I did find one commenting thread where a woman had said, “I have absolutely no intention of my kids helping us with retirement. It’s our responsibility to support ourselves. I would never want to be a burden like that. However, I would HOPE that they would want to help IF something drastic happened in our future and we needed it.”
And it’s true. Sometimes circumstances mean we have no other choice and any child of any parent should absolutely want to help them if they needed it. But as a parent I don’t believe we have any right to expect our children to “pay us back”… Do you?
Tell us, do you think it’s right to expect our children to age us financially? Do you think that although we’ve been sandwiched by both generations, we’ll only perpetuate the cycle if we’re a burden on our children? Share your thoughts in the comments below…