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Happy Bashorun: Are You Ready to Become Financially Responsible for Your Parents?

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After I turned 30, strange things began to happen in my life. One day, I looked up from my computer and realised the job I initially saw as my “dream job” was not allowing me to meet my career and financial goals. So, I hustled for a year and thankfully landed a better job at almost double my previous salary. Then, I noticed that time spent with a particular group of girl friends left me feeling icky and drained. I ditched those women and began to prioritise friendships where my values were in sync. I stopped going to church if I didn’t feel like it; I pushed myself to save 25% of my take-home pay and educate myself on investing, so that I handled that money well.

As I began to fix things in my life and meet my financial goals, I suddenly began to worry about my parents and their retirement. Like many in their generation, my parents prioritised their children’s education, tithing to church, and giving to extended family – instead of saving for retirement. Our culture has historically dictated that children take care of parents in their old age.
I am in full support of this, and have been sending money over since I pushed past an income that was subsistence level. However, no one tells you that taking responsibility for your parents or for other members of your family increases your stress and affects the dynamic of the relationship.

When you start financially supporting family, something definitely changes in the relationship. An innocent conversation about the hot weather in Lagos can turn into a complaint about how their car is so old and needs to be replaced with a new one.

If you don’t have the money to buy them a car, (please, who has that kind of money?) you feel guilt, anxiety, and irritation. I finally understand why, as children, my mother was so angry when we broke things in the house by mistake. She was calculating how much it would cost to replace the item.

I’ve become more sensitive to discussions touching on finance, because I now feel responsible for my parents, and have limited resources to give them. If I really had 10 million Naira to spare, that money would preferably go towards my retirement savings, not towards buying a brand new Honda.

I would argue that in today’s global economy, it is no longer possible for adult children to support 100% the financial needs of parents with a middle class lifestyle. Yet, we don’t talk about what this means for our parents’ well-being in their old age. The few times I’ve had a conversation with someone about supporting our respective parents, we discuss it as a point of pride, but barely acknowledge the difficulties that arise.

What happens when mummy thinks you should throw a bash for daddy’s 70th birthday when  you are trying to buy property? Are your siblings pulling their weight, or is it all on you?

How do you handle it when members of the extended family start asking for help? Are you hiding certain milestones in your life, such as a new flat or a dream vacation, out of fear that someone in your extended family will think you have money to blow?

How do you balance helping your family against meeting your own long-term financial needs? And finally, are you saving for retirement?

Photo Credit: Rmarmion | Dreamstime

Happy Naija Woman is unapologetically career savvy, loves the cinema and the library, and is a strong believer in women's financial independence.

11 Comments

  1. ola

    August 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Was just having tis conversation with my siblings this weekend. Everyone has bills/family which they prioritize before giving my dad money. Because am single I “supposedly” don’t need my salary,Squabbling with siblings to contribute a reasonable monthly allowance is exhausting.
    Right now am not only am i planning for today but till when am in my 70, don’t want to be a burden to my kids.

  2. Jane

    August 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    This topic is so relevant i have to say, and i ve heard different arguments as to whether as working adults we need to wholly take care of our parents. Some argue that its their responsibility to educate and take care of kids without looking to reap’ from them when the kids are older, others say, it s a worthy reward for parents.

    Personally, i send my parents a fixed amount of money every month and even though my dad s pension is almost 4 times my salary (and mine isnt bad at all) he still expects me to send him something every month. while i dont complain, sometimes i feel its not a fair trade, considering that i take care of quite a number of bills at home, Dstv, fuel for generator, cars, groceries etc. Normally, i take out something from my pay and save, this year its been impossible to do so, but i plan to resume this month.

    All i ll say is, kids should contribute as they can, cos truly most parents have lived up to their responsibilities and more, however parents must also understand when it is becoming increasingly difficult for adults to foot their bills..

  3. koladeii

    August 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    This really is a conversation that is rarely had in Nigeria. I am torn between my own ambitions and immediate family (children) with those of my parents and sometimes extended family. I mean will like to own a property of my own and build a retirement plan that will make me independent in my old age and not depend on my children. But I have to also cater to my parents and this is with a paid income. My parents aren’t even pension earners so they don’t even have any income at all. This can be so hard. Then when you manage to do the little that you can and they see you take a holiday, they are giving you the side eye that you are wasting money and not bringing enough or they expect you to take on more responsibilities especially for siblings. Like I have not even achieved my own dreams yet. Gosh being an adult is hard!

  4. Ab

    August 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    This is actually a fantastic conversation to start having now. It’s one that people hardly discuss maybe because there’s s natural expectation from society and maybe even parents ( especiallly ) in Nigeria that’s the kids will bear the cost of their retirement which I totally agree with but bearing the cost of it in it’s entirety and perphaps having high expectations from kids to do this can put on under pressure ! THANk God my mum fought for my dad to invest , invest invest even against my father’s siblings wishes ( they wanted no investments and wanted my dad to lavish it on them the money ofcourse) of which he did and meant that to be honest some investments were sidelined etc but thank God he had a wise woman for a wife else by now na garri he for dey soak (fact! Its very important for our generation of parents to start thinking about saving for retirement so that we don’t pass on that burden to our kids and even when or if we do , it wouldn’t Be burdensome to them. my mum still makes comments like y’all will do this and that etc and this is me praying every single day that the good LORd will bless me enough to give back because they truely deserve it…

    Sorry for any typos

  5. Frida

    August 7, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    I keep on saying this. The best thing any parent can do for their kids is to invest in their own retirement.
    It’s good to give your children a good future but do not do this at the expense of your own retirement. This is because your children may not be able to cater for you in your old age (not because they don’t want to, but because with young families of their own…in an economy that’s increasingly harsher than it was in their own parent’s time, it becomes a financial strain to factor in providing for your parents. )

    I cringe whenever I hear parents referring to their kids as their future investments.

    • ozyy

      August 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      GOD bless you. You have said it all. My dad always says GOD forbid that he becomes a liability to us, that he doesn’t want our money as he has worked hard for his. OMO, i pray it shall be so o, so that all that my siblings and i have to do is put an icing to their retirement cake. so help us GOD.

  6. True

    August 7, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    My parents had us while they were young (in their 20s). They spent everything they had raising us. I’m glad that they’re still young enough to work in their privately owned businesses. Now they’re saving for their own retirement. However, not everyone is this lucky.

  7. Ephi

    August 7, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I personally think it’s the least I can do to give back to them when that time comes, but definitely something worth thinking about ahead of time.

  8. Ajala & Foodie

    August 7, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    My Epistle may be a tad long on this, so bear with me. Just last week my sis and I were discussing this, a girlfriend’s bro is dating a girl that the family is not on board with i.e the dude is talking marriage and they are not on board because of this issue, they are expected to take care (financially) of their parents now!!! This is the dynamic of their family and it is just how it goes and they are not certain the babe will understand all this. She is non Nigerian

    I however, had to explain to my sis that even as a Nigerian it was something I have had to and still adjusting to in marriage. I now realize how fortunate and blessed we are to have parents that have investments and are still doing things financially for themselves, i.e post retirement. It is however not the same for my in-laws to be honest their situation is not even close to what many have i.e ” spent all they had on their kids” (story for another day) but for me it is the sense of entitlement that kills me, “you have to get me this because I bore you and I don’t care how you get the $$$ to do it”

    My MIL once told me we needed to put our plans for buying a house on hold and instead use that money to build them a house in Nigeria. Or when FIL told hubby he needs to file for his sis so “she can come and live the flamboyant life here”. This is a girl that has refused to hold down a job at 34 yrs, (she keeps quitting to pursue some short term “passion”). Here we are hustling like mad to make a good life for ourselves, we work tirelessly and no, we don’t live anything close to flamboyant but there it is. So yes, our last 2 vacations we have kept away from social media, this is strictly per my spouse request, my family is aware but not his. BTW I have nothing against giving to ones parents infact I think if you are in a position to no matter your parents financial capability try to invest in that relationship. I do that for my parents too but never at the expense of our basic needs or comfort.

  9. Anonymous

    August 9, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Happy to see the post because I was just discussing this with my sibling yesterday. I am relieved to see that I am not alone. I have moments of anger towards my dad for not investing when he was balling. He spent a lot on extended family members, launchings at church, frivolities in the village etc. Just to keep up with traditions and expectations. He retired with no pension and smoothly handed over the responsibilities of paying for my young siblings to me and another sibling. I make a good salary and I feel I deserve to enjoy a little but I put off lots of things so that i have enough to take care of them. It has gotten to the point where I am not comfortable showing them my expensive bags/shoes b/c I feel judged. Lately, I have decided to toughen up and not care about their opinions b/c I remember that as children, our parents did not splurge either. My boarding school provisions list was trimmed regularly by my mom and she did not deny herself nice things just so I can buy Keloggs cornflakes instead of Nasco. So, my approach now is to make sure their basic needs are met i.e housing, school fees and food. They get extras only after I have rewarded myself so I am not cranky at work all the time.

  10. aj

    August 10, 2017 at 3:04 am

    If I start on this topic I wont even finish! so mums the word!

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