Friday, February 25, 2011

Entitlement and Parents

I read the following comment at College Misery today that made my hair stand on end:
I recently learned my parents gave my younger brother $40, 000 so that he could buy part of a regional airport. These are the same parents who paid $50,000 less for my college education than they did for his, and who told me two years ago that there was no way I could live with them or borrow money from them since they didn't have any.
Some people's sense of entitlement is really scary. They forget that the moment when they reach the age of 18 their parents don't owe them anything any more. If your parents are willing to support you financially after that, that's great. They are not, however, obligated to do so in any way. They have the right to dispose of their money, the money that they made for themselves, in any way they wish, and nobody, in my opinion, has the right to dispute their choice and feel resentful about it.

If I were to discover tomorrow that my parents gave $40,000 to my younger sister so that she could buy an airport or anything else, I would be very happy on two accounts. First, that my sister had the money. And second, that my parents were in good financial shape that allowed them to make this kind of gifts to whomever they chose. As I was growing up, I was always told by my parents, "The only money that is truly yours is the money you made." This was a very valuable lesson as it taught me never to desire or begrudge anybody else's money.

Many people tend to see their parents as property that belongs to them and that has no life, will or desires of its own. Parents are people, too. They are responsible for their children's well-being until the children reach the age of majority. After that, they have no financial obligations to their children. 


Anonymous said...

I agree in general.

The thing that came to mind was my mother making an agreement with me that she would pay for two years of my college education. I made my decision about where to attend based on having her help to pay and I busted my behind to get finished in as close to 2 years as I could--I did two years at cc as a dual enrollment student before I transferred. After I graduated, she said the two years of cc counted as the two years she funded and all the loans I took out in my name on the understanding that she would pay them back? They were my problem. She even accused me of being entitled. Meanwhile, she still paid for my sister's two years of college before she dropped out.

That's a long story to say the thing that catches my eye here is the parents said they didn't have the money when this person asked for it when they apparently did--they spent it on their other kid. I'm thinking you're right that they have every right to do that. The parents can do what they like with their money. But pleading broke and then shelling out 40K? That's not being honest.

Clarissa said...

I always believed that there are 2 reasons people lie.

1) They are congenital liars. There are people who lie because they enjoy it. You don't meet them often but they exists. They are usually total sociopaths.

2) People lie to me because I make it hard for them to be honest. Maybe this person bugged them so much that they didn't feel like they could be honest with her.

I'm sorry you had this issue with your mother. I'm the first person to accept that there are parents who are not perfect. This is why I believe it's always best never to ask for anything or expect anything unless you want a lot of heartache.

V said...

I guess two issues get conflated here. Yes, parents are not under legal obligation to give anything to their grown-up children or to give equally to all their children if they give.
On the other hand, in the example described in you post, parents are playing favorites (and seems were playing favorites for a long time), likely on a gender basis, and lying on top of that. In other words - behaving in an unethical manner.
Now, the interesting question is - if some random person who knows nothing about them is allowed to have an opinion I have - isn't their own daughter also allowed to have opinion and feel badly about the situation? I do not really see it as entitlement issue, I see it as a legitimate grievance, so to speak.

Patrick said...

Of course, there is a 3rd possibility for this poor sap - that 2 years ago, his parents didn't have the money or resources. A lot can change in two years - for the good and for the bad. What he doesn't know would likely fill volumes.

Anonymous said...

I totally get why they would lie and I can't say I wouldn't do the same because I might. I guess all I'm saying is from the perspective of the kid, the lie hurts. Whenever I've discussed the situation I described with my mom, she does say I'm being entitled and she didn't/doesn't owe me anything. And she's right. But when I talk about the money, what hurts me isn't the debt. It's the lie. And maybe a little bit the inequitable treatment.

Clarissa said...

"On the other hand, in the example described in you post, parents are playing favorites (and seems were playing favorites for a long time)"

-Only if you see being given money as equal to being assigned a favorite. What if it were the other way round, though? Parents consider one of the children to be so successful in her own right that she is in no need of handouts. While the other kid is incapable of making it on his own, so they keep supporting him well into adulthood.

Anonymous said...

As a parent (and of course, a former child), it's really awful to treat your children unfairly without cause (an example would be a kid who is a danger to the parents or other siblings).

A kid who's incapable of making it on his/her own is really going to be in trouble after the parents pass away because s/he will not have learned any life skills by being constantly supported.

czrpb said...

hmm .. this kinda saddens me: i am curious when anyone thinks responsibility to children ends?

child is a relation and it seems most people here see that relation as pretty disappearing at "adulthood", so two obvious question: when and why? ( this is what seems sad to me: IMHO takes individualism and atonomy too far. )

Clarissa said...

czrpb: My parents and I have a very close relationship. We talk on the phone for hours every day. But this has nothing to do with money and financial obligations. I'm 34, so their financial obligations to me ended a very long time ago. Still, we love each other and enjoy spending time together.

czrpb said...

hi! ok .. i have 3 kids and i believe i will feel a responsibility to their needs -- which will entail money -- until i end. now, the point here is the entitlement, and i get that. but the comments seem to me to go beyond that, tho probably not to discuss here.

czrpb said...

hi! ok .. with 3 kids i expect to continue to feel a responsibility to their needs until my end. i do get this is not the point here.