• Fri, Feb 28 - 4:00 pm ET

My Aging Parents’ Retirement Plan Is Not My Responsibility, Sorry Not Sorry

shutterstock_86373334As I write this, I am coming from experience with inappropriate parental boundaries. What I mean to say is that my parents put a lot of responsibility on me as a kid. I’ve talked to my mom about it as an adult, and she’s acknowledged and apologized. I truly appreciate her honesty, and it’s probably the reason we have a relationship today.

All that is to say… I have really strong feelings about a parent’s responsibility. Parents should be parents, no matter their age.

I’ve seen quite a few Internet topics surface about helping aging parents plan for their retirement years, retirement funds, retirement living, etc. Probably based on my specific circumstances, that leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. My parents aren’t in the “elderly” category just yet, and they haven’t retired. But when that time comes, I still think it is their responsibility to plan for their future.

One particular article I read describes a 27-year-old woman working toward her PhD as “worried” about her parents’ retirement plans. She calls her parents “careful spenders,” but:

“They hit some bad luck when the mortgage broker industry tanked and some medical issues came up suddenly and they have been recovering since. This is a major source of stress but it’s also a motivator. Part of my goal in going to grad school is to be able to get a job where I will have some financial wiggle room to help them out.”

I honestly don’t know how I would react to this since I haven’t been in the situation. I understand that people get down on their luck and may not have the income they need to cover daily necessities. But I still can’t discount the fact that, regardless of age, parents are parents, and children are children.

Maybe the parents in the story aren’t trying to lean on their children for retirement help. Maybe the daughter is taking on the burden of her own accord. I just know that if I was an aging parent with dwindling retirement funds, I would exhaust literally every other option before depending on my kids.

(Image: kurhan/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Leigh

    I completely agree with you and we have made it very clear to my inlaws (who are NOT careful spenders) that we will not be supplementing their retirement.

  • Andrea

    I agree with you, but there’s the other side of it: would you really let your parents be homeless in their old age if they didn’t properly prepare for retirement? I just don’t think I could. Yes, I would be pretty pissed and my husband would probably be furious, but I don’t think I could let them starve.

    • Bender

      This is what happened to me and my husband. My mother-in-law lost her job in her late 50s and couldn’t find another before her unemployment ran out. She had very little in savings and ran out of money. Although I really disliked the idea at first, she moved in with us as there was absolutely no other alternative. It’s been okay, though, since we got to claim her as a dependent on taxes and she does a lot of work around the house!

    • brebay

      Hmm, my mom let me live in my car from 17-19 (yes, I worked and went to school during that time, but couldn’t cover tuition and rent) so, yeah, lots of us could, If you can’t understand why, you’re lucky.

  • AlexMMR

    In my family, assistance always flows down the generations, never up. My parents have made it very clear that their goal in life was to never become a burden to their children so they’ve done everything possible to ensure that they will be able to pay for any care or living expenses they will need as seniors. They don’t want to live with me any more than I want them here! I’ve talked to my husband about his family and while they are not well off, sorry guys, you’re on your own. Our house is not your retirement plan.

    I thought that was how things normally go. It’s not?

    • Guest

      This. My mom/dad has gotten help from my Gma (even as middle aged adults)when it is needed and I’ve gotten help from my mom/dad when I’ve needed it. While I certainly wouldn’t let my parents live on the street they sure as heck ain’t living with me. I know my folks more than likely won’t have this issue but my inlaws are currently living with their niece for free and are still strapped for cash :-/

    • CMP414

      That’s how I was raised too but I am seeing my friends have to provide their parents with housing because they failed to plan well. I am not talking about seniors either I mean people in their early to mid-50′s. So now these people have to work to provide for their own small kids and their parents.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I heard it called the sandwich generation!

    • CMP414

      Makes total sense! They are providing for 2 opposite generations

    • zeisel

      That seems way too young to start supporting your parents. I would feel ashamed if I wasn’t working to support myself at that age. There has to be some health reason that they were unprepared for? 50 is the new 40 right? Dear god, I must be getting old to not understand this.

    • CMP414

      Nope for these 2 friends’ parents. they just didnt pay their taxes on PAID OFF homes and lost them and wasted money on cigarettes, lottery tix, etc. I see zero excuse for them. It’s such a damn shame.

    • smishsmash

      This is how it goes in America. On other countries, its quite common to have the assumption that the children will take care of their parents in the elder years. It frankly used to be common in Aerica too before the boom times of the last century hit and communities fragmented with increased mobility of the population. Americans for the last couple generations haven’t had to take care of aging relatives because wealth, savings, and incomes have generally trended up over the decades. However, given that the average baby boomer retirement savings is only around somewhere around $60 grand in this country (and that average is skewed by high income earners, there a “long tail” of boomers with nothing saved up and a lot of boomers had their savings in the houses, which, well, we all know how that went), most of their adult children are in for a pretty rude awakening when they discover their choices are either sharing the bill and/or kicking in some free elder care or letting mom get foreclosed on and kicked into the gutter.

    • smishsmash

      Kind of interesting because I just looked it up, but the whole concept of retirement in and of itself is a relatively new concept that’s only been in widespread public discourse for the past 100-120 years or so again, largely due to the huge economic gains in the past century due to the industrial revolution and the tech revolution. Previously, it was pretty much the standard to work until you couldn’t work anymore and then live with your children. If you were to take a time machine back to great grandmom’s day and ask her if she would let her parents twist in the wind because they hadn’t been “responsible” or if she thought, like some of the posters here, that it’s selfish to expect your kids to take care of you in response to you taking care of them, she would look at you like you were a crazy person. It’s kind of interesting to me how this whole “invest wisely in the stock market so you can golf in your golden years and not be a burden on your children” concept is treated like unassailable wisdom when in fact it’s actually the outlier in how families have been run for the vast majority of human history and largely the result of economic changes that are iffy at best about whether they will continue producing upward trending benefits for the long-term.

    • Anika

      I would prefer my parents living with me over rotting in some nursing home. I love my parents and if they need care in their old age I would do my best to provide it, just like they helped me when I needed it.

    • ted3553

      My parents have always made it very clear that their money is theirs and it is up to us to make ours. They have also been very open about spending everything before they die (not in a bitter way but in a we earned it so we’ll spend it to make us happy way). I would absolutely help them if they needed but they are very smart about their money and most importantly, they live within their means. I am incredibly thankful for this because my in laws are a different story. With nearly the same income as my parents, they fall behind regularly and need us to assist. It’s all because of their poor choices, not some devastating situation so it does make me a little bitter.

  • Crusty Socks

    One day, #1 will find this article and be like “Yes! totes Mom!”

    #2 will be dancing.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hahaha

  • Michelle W Lauve

    Eh, I don’t know.. I mean our parents cared for US for at least 21 years in my household. Paid for my schooling, car and insurance, fed me, clothed me, got me health insurance and spend loads in school sports and made sure things were taken care of for me. I think there’s something to be said for SOME of that. I think if parents hit rough times, and not frivolous spending – there would be help coming from me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

    • Guest

      You sound like my father. I paid for this and that and you owe us! I would help my parents out because they are my parents but surely not because they paid for me as a chld (as they should).

    • meteor_echo

      The thing is, providing for a child is a law-enforced parental duty, not a favor. You don’t *owe* things to your parents because they cared for you, they just did what normal parents are supposed to do.
      Helping them of your own volition, though, is a different matter. If you feel that you’d like to help them – sure, why not?

    • Tinyfaeri

      My daughter’s almost 2. I chose to bring her into this world, I will provide for her until she’s old enough and able to provide for herself. That’s what parents do – we aren’t owed anything for it, it’s our responsibility as parents. As far as retirement, everyone should save for retirement so they don’t have to rely on financial support from their children or children’s children. Things happen, yes, but that’s why you diversify your savings and investments as much as possible, and save whatever you can whenever you can.

  • CMP414

    I’m not there with my parents yet either and I *think* they have planned well but all I can say is that I brought my daughter into this world to give her a good life not use her to fund my senior days. I see this stuff happening to my friends by their parents and in-laws and I think it’s terrible. If anything when my daughter is an adult I would like to be there for her to help fund her wedding and give her something towards her first home not be there with my own hand out. Maybe I am too harsh (and I know I can be) but what a crappy position to be your kids in.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I agree completely.

    • Guest

      Exactly! I’ve already starting pre-baby/future children savings funds because I’ve seen how nice it is for kids whose parents planned ahead. I know my inlaws and parents were able to help out here and there with our wedding but not as much as I expected. I also don’t want to be like my inlaws and just give how much I have based on when the kid gets married. All 3 of my husband’s siblings got married and divorced & two remarried again before we got married and by that point I don’t think they even had that much to give and thought we were just going to be divorced so why bother. A friend also had parents gift her (for her wedding) downpayment money on a home (which is insanely nice and helpful) so I’d love to do something like that too.

    • CMP414

      We do the Gerber college fund for my 2 year old which puts my mind at ease and we save in her account every dime she is gifted. If she still lives with us as an adult, I plan to charge her rent then when she moves out to begin her independent life I want to give her all that rent money back as a surprise to start her off right. I am going to do my best to make sure she has the best life we can give her.

    • Guest

      I love that idea too!

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I think that is very intelligent because she’ll have gotten into the necessary habit of budgeting housing expenses, but will still have “saved”.

    • CMP414

      Thanks! I’m thinking I heard that idea somewhere so I can’t take credit for it but we are certainly going to do it!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Love this rent idea!

    • Debber

      You might want to re-think the Gerber college fund. I hear it’s a rip-off and poor investment. Ask Dave Ramsey.

  • MJ

    I could never allow my parents to suffer if I could help them. They blew through much of their retirement savings fighting my mother’s ongoing health issues. I know they hate to ask for help, but sometimes they have to. Believe it or not, parents are still parents when they go through hard times and need some help.

    • Smishsmash

      Yeah, I’m reading all these comments from bunch of young people talking about “being responsible” and, as an older mom, all I see are a bunch of people who’ve never run up against the “sometimes shit happens” way that life goes. There are many people in life, and probably on this comment board, who are planning responsibly and who will none-the-less have their savings destroyed by a catastrophic health problem, an unexpected job loss due to sweeping changes in their industry (talk to any of the bright young things that made the now un-wise seeming decision to go to law school), or another economic disaster (The value in my 401K has now been destroyed by three separate asset bubbles! That’s how old I am!) or some other unforeseen issue. And if this happens to their parents, are they really going to sit around and watch their parents end up homeless while saying “Well, they should have planned better!”

    • pixie

      I think what a lot of us are saying, and what I’m saying is when we have parents who have planned well and don’t expect things from us, we’re perfectly willing to help them if “shit happened”. We’re less willing to help if we have parents who don’t plan well, expect things from their children, and spend nearly every dime they have. I’d be perfectly willing to help my parents in a time of need because they’re well prepared, but shit does happen, and it would take a lot of convincing them to let me help them. My boyfriend’s parents, not so much.

    • Kelly

      Meh, if my parents end up homeless my sister and I will be sitting around saying, “Well, they shouldn’t have abused their children.”

    • Smishsmash

      Well yes, if your parents were abusive monsters, feel free to let them rot in hell. But if your parents were loving and tried their best, seems pretty cold to turn around when they are in a vulnerable situation at the end of their lives and say “sorry mom and dad, you did not meet my definition of responsibility. Sure hope the govt old folks home you’ll be living in isn’t one of the bad ones.”

  • Kate

    A lecturer spoke to us in a class a little while ago (in New Zealand) about this topic. The conclusion that was come to and that I agree with is that in our culture, it is not very common at all for the parents to pay for university, and in return, the children rarely support the adults in their old age, beyond normal care etc. In his culture (chinese), parents generally pay for university and support their kids through this, and in return the children are expected to help if needs be, when the parents are older. I quite like this view of it.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Tit for tat and such. I think your level of obligation towards your parents depends on how much they sacrificed to provide for your needs, and how much you can afford to help.
      If you have parents who didn’t help with post-secondary or a house downpayment and gave you the boot after high school, I really don’t see how they could expect retirement assistance. I mean, they set the tone for what families do to help out and if they offered nothing, they should expect nothing.

    • zeisel

      In a sense, I can grasp that concept and why other cultures typically do it that way. The teenager isn’t financially secure to pay for schooling; however the parents are more secure then the teenager with 20 + years working at their career. The once teenager didn’t have to be strapped down with student loans and can now help with contributing to the retirement needs of his elderly parents, because he got a jump a head and most likely paid off his/her mortgage, bills, etc. It’s a win-win situation that works for both groups. In a perfect world. right?

  • meteor_echo

    Not helping mine because they’re two abusive assholes who still try to scream at me or threaten me with physical violence. Once the situation in my country stabilizes, I’m out and then they can kiss my footprints goodbye :)

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Yep. Fuck ‘em.

      My mother wasn’t abusive, per se, but she was mentally unstable and emotionally manipulative–a dangerous combination if you’re trying to convince people in the mental health profession to get someone intervention when they need it. She also expected that we’d live together so I could continue to be a sounding board for what a terrible person my father was (yes, the man who paid for my food, housing, and education and always had his door open to me if I couldn’t take the crazy anymore and, in fact, still calls to nag me about my health is TOTALLY a prime example of a deadbeat). So while my situation wasn’t nearly as bad, I completely get the need to put major emotional and physical distance between you and your family.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    My great grandmother had 8 children and was a single mom so she obviously didn’t work outside the home. She supported her children off of public assistance and was able to help her children help themselves by taking care of her grandchildren and even great grandchildren when her kids either weren’t fit to be parents or when they were busy with work and school to better their situation.

    Her children help her and pay her rent and I feel it is the right thing to do given the sacrifices she made when they were adults by providing free child care everyday of the week so they could go to school and work.

    • bea

      Their are different situations and circumstances. you state your great grandmother helps out looking after the kids etc. She is giving something back but I know of some parents that just automatically think they have to be looked after financially by their children because they do not want to work and expect help or feel that they are ‘owed’ even before they reach retirement age. I think this is a self centred attitude to have and could seriously jeopardise their children’s and/ or grandchildren’s lives. Their are exceptional circumstances where giving financial support to parents is ok such as illness or disability etc.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    If my parents happened to become disabled and couldn’t work and lost their pensions or if their money was ripped off by some ponzi scheme I’d help. They both work so I don’t see any reason for them to ask for help even though they are big spenders and borrow off of relatives. They have to learn to be more responsible which is why I refuse to help them now. They are young enough where they’re not at retirement age yet so they have plenty of time to get it together.

  • Kelly

    I won’t do a damn thing for my parents if they can’t afford to retire. They can die in a ditch for all I care.

    Before someone calls me ungrateful, my parents were both abusive and neglectful. If they wanted me to care for them in their old age, they should have treated me like a human being.

  • Ann

    My parents are flat out broke, they have never been able to handle their finances. Every time either of them have a dollar they spend $1.50. They did not pay for school for any of us, they have always said if you want to go to school you have to pay for it yourself, I struggled and made my way through school and none of my siblings have bothered. I started a college fund for my children when I got divorced, struggling each month to make the premium. I am by far not rich, and I now have 3 kids in college but I just bought a condo for my mother because I need to know that she has a roof over her head (she’s been living in a $hit hole illegal apartment on the side of her friends trailer). I also made sure to keep it in my name so that she can’t decide to remortgage it, borrow against it, or if she passes my brothers and sister can’t try to force the sale. My new husband was the force behind this, he’s a better person then me. That was a chunk of my retirement plan but I don’t want any pats on the back, I just don’t want her living in my spare room and driving me nuts!

  • Lee

    My grandma was recently in a huge financial situation before her housed washed away and she got a huge insurance pay-out. My parents were helping her declare bankruptcy.

  • pixie

    I know my parents are pretty much set in planning for their retirements (barring anything unexpected). My mom can retire in 2 years at 60 and my dad can retire in 4 years at 62, though I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both continue to work part-time, because that’s just who they are. I would probably help them in a heartbeat if necessary, but I really doubt it would come to that.

    My boyfriend’s parents on the other hand…they’re a different story. He told me recently that he’s afraid they’re going to end up with no money because they barely work (they do the odd contract home-improvement job and then spend 2.5 months in Florida in the winter, driving their trailer down there, and a huge amount of time at their trailer site in Sauble Beach, Ontario in the spring-fall months), have expenses that they really could get rid of, and have pretty well no money put away. They’ve told us that if we end up together we need to have a house with a basement so they can live there when they’re not in Florida or Sauble and that’s their retirement plan. I’m pretty sure they’re serious. I’ve told my boyfriend that there is no way they’re living with us and I won’t help them out financially unless something terrible happens, like an injury/illness. I’m not heartless, but they really have horrid money-skills, and I don’t think it’s fair that they’re expecting my boyfriend (an only child) to support them. My boyfriend agrees with me and is also against his parents living with us/being supported by us if we end up together (he has a lot of resentment towards them, but is a good enough guy to help them in dire circumstances).

    I think it comes down to the types of people the parents are. My parents are financially secure, have good spending habits, and have planned ahead for their retirements and emergencies. They’ve supported me growing up and still lend a hand when I need it. They might not have given me everything my heart desired (never did get that pony for Christmas…), but they made sure I had everything I needed to be comfortable and successful. My boyfriend’s parents aren’t financially secure, spend money they don’t have, and haven’t made a real plan for their retirement. He didn’t have a bad upbringing, but it’s been made clear to him that he’s expected to at least house his parents when they’re older. I think most people would gladly help usually financially-secure parents who’ve hit rough times than parents with a history of debt and poor spending habits.

    • Emily A.

      Furthermore, your parents gave you the knowledge you need to take care of your own finances. I was lucky to get that memo, too. From this thread, we can see that not everyone was so lucky!

      I have ILs who are terrible with $. We still help them out when they are in dire straits, but the nice thing is that they ask for help, and don’t demand it. I am also fully aware that any “loan” we provide is actually a gift. We are not going to get it back, so do not “lend” more than we can actually afford to give.

    • pixie

      Exactly! I figure if my boyfriend and I end up together, we’ll figure out how to deal with his parents down the road so as to set healthy boundaries but also make sure nobody gets the short end of the stick or too upset.

  • Fondue

    Wow, after reading the comments on here, I guess I’m an anomaly. I’m lucky enough to have a family that can take care of themselves, but will also help out if a family member needs it. Because of the fact that I was brought up by two loving parents who raised me with a good work ethic, I would be happy to help them out however I could.

    • Kelly

      Yes, you’re lucky for that and I’m happy for you. Every child deserves a loving family. If I had loving parents, I would probably be happy to help them. I’d love to have good parents, I just lost the lottery on that one.

    • KensiBlonde

      You are not alone, Kelly!

    • Kelly

      Thank you. Neither are you.

    • Fondue

      I’m sorry you didn’t have that, Kelly. I know it happens, but I just don’t understand how parents can mistreat, neglect, or otherwise not meet the emotional needs of, their kids.

    • Kelly

      Some people are just scum. It would be nice if all scumbags were naturally born sterile but sadly, they aren’t. LOL

      I have a really great family now, my parents just aren’t welcome to be a part of it.

    • brebay

      Totally with you Kelly. That’s one gift they gave us, I guess. I don’t have to worry about how they’ll get on when they’re old. People can judge all they like, but you wouldn’t be expected to support a stranger who physically or sexually attacked you even ONE TIME, but somehow grown child abuse victims are supposed to still keep people who assaulted a child for years close to you because they happened to have had unprotected sex and didn’t have an abortion, or they’re “cold?” No, that’s just fucking unhealthy.

    • Kelly

      Yes, exactly! That’s exactly how I feel about it. If a stranger treated me the way my parents did, people would scream at me to run away from them and call the police.

      But somehow it’s better when my mother and father do those things to me? No, it’s even worse.

      It sounds like you understand what it’s like from experience and I’m sorry for that. I appreciate the empathy though. It’s nice to meet other people who get it.

    • Anika

      I agree with you, I would definitely help out my family members if they needed it. It’s so cold to say they’re on their own to starve if they didn’t save enough.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I have an RESP set up for my baby, and also life insurance. The life insurance idea came because my FIL set it up for his kids. Now my husband has basic insurance he pays $7 a month for, and he can cash it out for thousands if we need it.
    I want to limit the amount of debt my son would accrue from education and give him a head start financially. The idea of him funding me in retirement is weird. Unless he was a millionaire. Then okay ;)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Fine, Justin Bieber, if you must…

    • Guets

      After working in banking and insurance industries I’m seeing a lot of parents setting this kind of stuff up for their kids as babies. Makes me really really want to do that for my kid in the future- help out as much as possible but plan ahead so it doesn’t hurt (like $7/month!)

  • Angela

    My parents are past retirement age but are still working because they can’t afford to retire. They both make pretty decent salaries and they certainly could have saved more and made smarter financial decisions. They are rather impulsive buyers and generally live for the present. Plus they’ve given quite a bit of money to my brother over the last 10 years as he’s failed out of several colleges (Fortunately that train wreck has stopped as they finally refused to keep funding him and he dropped out). After they do retire I have no idea if or when they will run out of money but if they do I will absolutely be there to help. They were far from perfect parents but they were loving and tried to do their best. They helped me through school and I know that if I were ever in trouble they’d help out if they could. I can’t imagine turning my back on them if they were destitute with no where to go.

  • KensiBlonde

    My mother did absolutely nothing to prepare for her retirement (I use that term loosely since she hardly ever worked either) nor anything to take care of her health — in fact, she drove it into the ground. She’s now paralyzed and living in a nursing home due to a stroke, probably due to her smoking and general level of bad health, though I can’t say for certain exactly what caused the stroke. She’s not that old either. She had no retirements at all, zip zero. Thank god for Medicaid. Sorry, taxpayers, but I’m sure I’m paying for someone else’s mom. However, I pay for all her incidentals, her clothing, her phone line, her food (she won’t eat nursing home food, etc). This is a woman who did nothing for me growing up — though at least she didn’t beat me or stuff me in an oven. But she never paid for squat and dumped me on relatives. I still pay for what I can but getting the phone calls asking for money is always lovely. I tried to explain to her, Look, you didn’t save for anything! She doesn’t get it. Anyone who abandons a mom like this at the end, you have my backing. I couldn’t do it, but I respect those who do!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      You are a far more generous person than I would ever be in that situation. Okay, maybe I’d grudgingly cough up some money for clothes and the phone, but outside food? Unless the cooks are using arsenic or hemlock (or cilantro :p ) for seasoning, suck it up and remember that there are starving children–and elderly people–in Africa!

      I do think that’s similar to where my mother would have wound up had she lived long enough. She had Type I diabetes, which didn’t stop her from drinking or smoking a pack a day. She also didn’t have a job or any sort of care policy in place, though at least she did have a generous retirement account (provided by my father in the divorce settlement). So while I don’t think she would have wound up in a public facility, the fact that I would have put my foot down and refused to be her full-time nurse would have meant that I’d have gotten daily phone calls with her screeching about how I’d abandoned her. And while my mother never abandoned me to relatives, she was involved to the point where being a helicopter parent would’ve seemed comparatively spacious, which clearly created its own set of issues.

    • KensiBlonde

      It’s sad to say but in some ways you lucked out. :(

  • Jell

    This is a topic of conversation between my spouse and I because we have chosen his parents as the ones to focus our efforts if we need to step up to the plate to take care of either set. Frankly, they’re the kind of people I would do that for. For one, they have already planned their retirement so it would be a “in times of great need” type of deal, and for another they have assisted my spouse greatly throughout his life financially. The obligation I feel here is a happy one and entirely on his behalf, not because they’ve put that on us.. The understanding is also that if there is an issue like being a caretaker through serious illness or they are no longer to able to take care of themselves in their own home, we will be the first ones to help.

    I completely bristle at the idea that any parent is entitled to the financial assistance of a child, It’s the same way I feel about children who think their parents owe them a college education, a car, a wedding, etc. It sure is wonderful when people give generously to their children but once you get into “you owe me this” my sympathy for the demanding party flies out the window.

  • Anika

    My parents have always helped me out when I needed it and I would be happy to do the same for them.

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    I’m thrilled that my father is a careful planner who has life insurance, long-term care, and retirement policies set up. He’s also a firm believer that retirement should be his responsibility, not his child’s. I’m further grateful that he met and, after some small prodding on my part for what I admit are selfish reasons, married a woman with whom he’s compatible and is healthy, active, and five years his junior.

    That said, if his marriage went south and he wasn’t able to afford in-home care, I’d readily take him in. He’s the only immediate family I have (my mother died seven years ago, and I’m an only child), and he was the sole stable influence I had as far as parents were concerned. Plus, I’m not going to have children, so by the time this issue would even come up, I figure I’ll have sown enough wild oats and stabilized my own restlessness enough to be comfortable in a caretaker position.

  • Jillian

    I find this issue really depends upon each individual family. Like some people on here said they would have no problem helping fund their parents living/bills later in life which is very nice however I can understand completely why some wouldn’t want to do 100 percent of the supporting of their parents. I understand the generational idea that you take care of your parents in their older age(a common practice amongst certain cultures) but honestly I don’t want to be solely responsible for my parents someday outside of extreme, emergency circumstances. This whole idea that you have kids so someday they support you completely seems to be really selfish and inconsiderate. You choose to have kids because you love kids and want to have kids not because you want some guaranteed bank account to take care of your financial and home needs when your older. Its not fair to have kids for the primary reason that you want them be responsible for you later, we have investment, retirement plans, saving accounts and retirement homes for that. If your kids enjoy having you live with them later in life that is very nice but it shouldn’t be an expectation forced upon them from a young age. Those kids are going to grow up and have plenty of financial issues of their own to worry about much less having to cover their parents backs too.

  • anon

    Recently got an email from mil which hinted that they (she and fil) might be coming and asking for money. No way, no how. I am not going to support them in their nice little house on the golf course in a nice little senior community when I am struggling to make ends meet. MIL has gone to Italy TWICE in the last five years – my last REAL vacation was my honeymoon (2nd marriage) over three years ago. No way. Not happening.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    What makes me sad is that my parents will probably never get to retire. Unless they seriously win some money or come down with some major health issues that force them out of work. Retirement for working/middle class families just isn’t something I see very often. I know my parents would rather be the 80yr old walmart greeters than ask me for money.
    My husband’s mom on the other hand, totally would…..but she takes such crappy care of herself I actually imagine her dying in the next 10years and then we won’t have to worry about it.(I know that makes me sound horrible, but its a story far to long for a comment)

  • M.

    My in-laws almost lost their house during the mortgage crisis a few years ago. My husband and his siblings pitched in to bail them out. I was more bitter about it than I expected I would be. We were newlyweds and didn’t/still don’t have money to even start our own family, and we were expected to fix their bad decisions? Now if you ask them what their retirement plan is, they’ll say “We’ll figure it out when we get there.” They are still in the hole money-wise, don’t have their mortgage paid off, and continue spending money they don’t have. I’m not sure how this will all end up, but I expect we’re not done paying for their poor money choices.

    Maybe it was worse because it was not my own parents, it was my in-laws. It’s difficult to say yes we’ll plan on always helping you out when we’re getting to the point it’s time to start our own family and all our resources should be going to our own family.

  • Justme

    I guess it depends on your perspective…my parents gave me so much in life and the life I lead today is due in part to how they raised me and set me up for success. I will never be able to repay them for all the opportunities they gave me, in addition to their unconditional love and guidance (not that they would EVER expect or demand anything from me). If sometime in the future, my parents need something, whether it be financially, physically or emotionally, I will do what I need to in order to take care of them.

  • CBillard

    I always look at this from the other direction – would I ever expect my child to pay for me in old age? Hell, no. I don’t want my son having to use his well-earned money to pay for me, especially if/when he’s trying to raise his own family. That is not his burden, it is mine and my husband’s. I would never encroach on his space/life by moving in with him.

    My mom has chosen not to make any attempt to save and my in-laws spent so much they had to declare bankruptcy. Neither with get a dime from us because they opted to screw-off rather than prepare.

  • AE Vorro

    I think this can cut both ways and it really speaks to problems with our retirement system (or lack thereof) and income inequality/under-employment. With the economic downturn older, retirement-aged people are increasingly being called upon to support their grown children at the expense of their own retirement. That seems just as bad grown children having to foot the bill for their own parents to retire.

    Seems like a bad cycle, any way you slice it.

  • Andrew Cole

    Enough with the personal responsibility crap. At some point children become adults (most of us), and we are all on equal footing. Sometimes parents take care of their adult children; sometimes children take care of their adult parents; sometimes friends help each other out. What is the point in even having a society if we can’t depend on each other?

    Honestly, I don’t expect the government or strangers to take care of me in old age, and hopefully my wife and I will be able to take care of ourselves, but sometimes bad things happen to good people. My parents have recovered from a bad time in their lives when they had cancer and went bankrupt. They are currently taking care of my brother and his kids because he never grew up and ruined his life.

    If my parents need my help when they are too old to work, and I have the means to do it, then I will. Life isn’t fair. We all have to help each other get through it the best we can.

  • kim

    Seriously,most of the posters here sound like spoiled, selfish whiners. This lack of respect for elders is a major problem in our society. You, all of you who won’t be bothered with caring for your parents, you do realize that one day you will be the old one, and your kids are watching how you treat your parents, right? Really, this attitude is disgusting.
    .

  • rickynotmartin

    My parents fu***ed my life and that of all my siblings, perhaps not on purpose but out of stupidity, bad choices and selfishness, when I was 14 I ended up living in the streets because my dad used to bash me with the cord from the iron, and was a drunk, when i turn seventeen, my parents decided to separate the family and move back to my home country and take all my younger siblings, now they are very old and are asking for help financially, when they were perfectly fine in Australia, which has a high standard of living, I really never understood their choices, but I am conflicted whether to help them or not, first off I feel they never gave me much, and they took away a lot from me, which is caused me a lot of depression and unhappiness all my life, so I don’t know what should I do?

    • Bethany Ramos

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope you can find someone to talk to and set boundaries to protect yourself, even if you choose to help your parents. <3