Helping Your Parents Financially

Are you obligated to give money to your parents if you have it to give? Dr. Phil answers the question:

  • First, assess the situation. Does your parent have a specific need that is not being met, such as health care, living accommodations or food? What is absolutely necessary for them to live? Morally, if you have the resources and they have a need, you should give to them.

  • Beyond these necessities, you must decide whether you want to give more to them and how much you can afford to give to them, based on your resources. It is nice to give to your parents. It is altruistic to take care of them, but it is not your obligation if there isn't a specific need.

  • Your primary concern should be toward your nuclear family. Your children, your partner, yourself, these are the people that come first. You need to take care of them first, and then take care of your parents. Your parents are adults, and can take care of themselves.

  • You should only give out of love, not guilt. If your parent is guilting you into giving them money, that is a bad deal. Your parents should not be vocalizing how much they receive from other friends or siblings and comparing that with how much they receive from you. You need to assess their need-versus-want ratio and go from there. You must genuinely want to give to them and hold no resentment, otherwise you may have relationship problems with your parents in the long run.

  • Give to your parents in other ways. If you can't afford to give money, let them know you care by giving them your time. Give them a call, stop by their house, take a walk together, show your support by catering to their emotional needs.

  • Whether you make the choice to give or not give, you are the only person who can give yourself permission. You have to live with your decision at the end of the day, so come to terms with your choice. 
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