Author Topic: HELP!!! Dealing with Financially Irresponsible/Dependent Parents  (Read 45855 times)


  • Bristles
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Re: HELP!!! Dealing with Financially Irresponsible/Dependent Parents
« Reply #150 on: March 04, 2017, 07:01:31 AM »
I understand that it is difficult for you to wrap your head around our cultural differences, but the Third World is a whole different beast and you would have to have grown up there to fully appreciate the lengths parents go through to see their children succeed.

I worked for a bit over a year in Ethiopia. 

For me, the epiphany was watching a crippled beggar pull himself down the road on the ground.  He didn't have a crutch and it didn't look like he could actually use one.

A wheelchair would have been worthless because the roads and sidewalks weren't in repair enough.   

To properly appreciate this you have to understand that a road in many parts of town was dirt with some gravel on top, with a healthy sprinkling of urine from donkeys, goats, and people, and feces from same.   

In the rainy season he would have to drag himself to his begging station in mud infused with feces and urine instead of just filthy dirt.

That might help 1st world folks understand why 3rd world parents will work so very hard to improve the lot of their children.

And why their children appreciate it.

Also in many countries the topography is very mountainous and a wheel chair would be useless. I know this gentleman that lives in such a country. He has a wheel chair provided by some good friends abroad but he can't wheel himself because he lives on a steep hill, like most of the population, and has to have someone to push him. There are no sidewalks and narrow streets so he is pushed in the middle of traffic and has to contend with all the cars.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: HELP!!! Dealing with Financially Irresponsible/Dependent Parents
« Reply #151 on: March 04, 2017, 08:45:10 AM »
When a house can't be sold in a reasonable amount of time it is priced too high. Seems like she needs to sell and should bite the bullet. Why you would feel guilty for not giving her more $ when she went on a spending spree is beyond me. So she can't do some things because she wasted her $. Those are natural consequences. I hope everyone in your generation breaks this cycle by not burdening your kids when adults with supporting you. I do understand helping when some one is destitute.  After my Grandpa died all my Grandma had to live on was SS even though they never wasted their $. So she went to very nice low income senior apartment but still could not afford her med co-pays, etc and the 2 daughters bought those and other things she needed. My parents also took her out to eat and on vacation.  When my Dad died my Mom's standard of living decreased because the pension was reduced. She tightened her belt and would not take a dime from us kids. She did let us buy her dinner sometimes or pay for a vacation as a xmas gift. She even bought everything ahead of time for her own funeral and paid for the sit down dinner afterwards by telling us to sell her car once she was gone. I intend to do the same for my kids.

This obviously makes sense in the First World and if we do have kids, we don't intend on relying on them for our retirement, but rather we would plan to leave them with a nice large inheritance. Unfortunately, living in the Third World sometimes doesn't offer the luxuries of a defined or guaranteed pension. I'm not sure what country Elaine comes from but I can give you my perspective. For example, in Zimbabwe, many people in my parents' generation lost their savings when the economy collapsed and the currency was devalued in 2008. In addition, people who paid into the government pension system for decades now get a measly payment of less than $100 per month and sometimes that money isn't even paid out on time and pensioners can go for months without receiving their money. I guess this is why so many back home put all their money into a house because financial assets weren't/aren't safe at all for them. So for many back home, they need to have a constant source of income and if savings/pensions aren't reliable, the burden unfortunately falls on the kids (if they don't have rental income from other properties). Of course, the elite are able to stash their money in offshore accounts where it's safe, but for the average person, this is not a possibility. So we (Zimbabweans) never really had a culture of saving after that because why save when it can all disappear over night?

In addition the an unstable economy, there are other nuances in our culture regarding taking care of one's parents that are difficult to explain to First Worlders. For example, our African parents will spend every cent they have to ensure that we get a good education in the hope that we will be more successful than them. We don't have a student loan system or "free" education for elementary and high school, so all levels of education are footed by the parents. So after all of our parents' hard work to get us where we are, it only seems natural to repay that debt. Of course I can always argue that I didn't ask to be born, but that doesn't solve anything. I have changed my mindset about this, though, and I plan to provide my parents with more emotional support than financial, but when the time comes when they can no longer work and take care of themselves, I'll be happy to take them in.

I understand that it is difficult for you to wrap your head around our cultural differences, but the Third World is a whole different beast and you would have to have grown up there to fully appreciate the lengths parents go through to see their children succeed. I'm very thankful to be living in the First World where I can actually plan for the future and things are relatively stable. And the only reason I'm here is because my parents paid for my university fees to get me started. Yes, they made bad financial decisions along the way, but I also wouldn't know what to do if for example the Canadian economy collapsed and our currency became worthless like what happened in Zimbabwe.

I will also say that I've received some great advice in this forum regarding putting my foot down etc, and it has helped me shape my current/future approach to my parent's situation.

I appreciate your perspective because I too spent some formative years in the developing world and both parents are from such a culture. However, I do want to point out that those sacrifices are not unique to parents from the developing world. Americans, for example, sacrifice every day and forego spending money on themselves, including saving for their own retirement, to fund their children' s education and continue to support them well into adulthood. The difference is that they don't have the expectation that their children will take care of them in old age; they see their responsibility to their children as part of being a parent and don't expect that their children should sacrifice their well being to take care of them. Even if they're in dire financial shape, they rather survive on very little than burden their children. On the other hand, some parents from developing countries would shame their children and complain to anyone that would listen about all the sacrifice they made for their children and how ungrateful they are even if these children might be struggling themselves. They assume that once you appear successful or live in the West you have enough Money to share.
I understand, however, why such an undue burden is placed on children in those societies. There are usually no pension or reliable one and no entitlement programs and the safety system is the family.

I don't agree with this. There is a huge difference. There are plenty of Americans who have the means to pay for their kids' college education but they don't pay for it for various reasons. In other countries (3rd world or similar), the parents always pay for full education including college if they have the means (with maybe a few exceptions) and often even if they are not financially well off they continue to help support their kids. And not all other cultures who pay for their kids education expect their kids to take care of them.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 08:47:02 AM by SKL-HOU »


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: HELP!!! Dealing with Financially Irresponsible/Dependent Parents
« Reply #152 on: March 05, 2017, 05:15:43 PM »
That story of what the beggar had to go through is horrible. My Grandparents had to take in their father when he could no longer work at age 70 because there was no SS at that time. At least in the states there is some minimal amount that old people get and I realize that poor countries do not have that safety  net.  Just really a sad situation.


  • Bristles
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Re: HELP!!! Dealing with Financially Irresponsible/Dependent Parents
« Reply #153 on: March 13, 2017, 08:14:27 AM »
Friend of Ethiopia here - generic white USer, but 7 years helping friend from Ethiopia build a nonprofit there... 

it's still a thing that everyone could assume you're rich enough to send them lots of money, when you're not.  It can be seen as an ethical responsibility back home, could prevent your stash building here, or even your breaking even here... plus "capital needs" for business ventures that exceed your investment capacity... these are real regardless of how much nicer your first world mustache lifestyle is.

Zimbabwe sounds like the economy is imploding and the money will never emerge from it.  OP, so glad you got your parents to your new country.  Even more so that they are prospering and paying their way.  It sounds like your dad really found a good job to start out.  I am very happy for you!

Thanks for the well wishes!

Yes, a lot of us Africans and other Third Worlders feel responsible for everyone back home and it can be detrimental. Many of my friends send a large chunk of their paycheques home every month and never get ahead in life here. I really don't know what the solution is, but I'm so thankful that my family is here now and are working/making their own money.

This. Like my mom had to put herself through school here in the U.S because she couldn't take out student loans as an international student yet she also had to not only support two kids but also somehow send money back home.

I mean we're talking helping pay tuition for her siblings. My mom is very mustachian too and if it wasn't for this culture, she would probably be a millionaire right now.

The fortunate thing for us is that now most of my nuclear family is in the U.S and everyone has gotten a good taste for the struggles of the first world so very few people still ask for money. Also, our standard of living has come a VERY long way. We laugh at how 5 cent sweets were so expensive and how I used to want this 10 cent toy but we could never afford it.

On this note though, poverty sucks no matter where you are. Those who have money live even better lives than us here. Like some of my mom's friends ended up getting good jobs with the growing economy and they live like kings.