Preface, Part IIb
July 26, 2006
My new visitor, Moom, suggested that it would be helpful to get more background on My Parents so my response is continued here … (I know, I initially said it was a short story. I’m long-winded, sorry!)
Now since BF and I are from two very different financial backgrounds, what my parents might require is likely to be much more or different than what his financially stable parents would. Again, my parents don’t have expectations but if I truly felt that I could just move on with my life without making sure they were ok, I guess I’d be doing a lot of other things wrong too.
So, no essentially, they don’t have to own a house or retire but my feeling is that if I can set things up in a way that they can, modestly, later in life, then they certainly would not require help to meet basic needs.
Admittedly my pride plays a huge role in this. I love and respect my parents and want them to be respected by his parents too. Certainly they made financial mistakes but none of those mistakes were for their personal gain. They didn’t run up credit card debt because they were buying crap for themselves, they didn’t take loans so they could go on vacations they couldn’t afford. They spent the last 20 years working 15 hour days, 365 days a year running a small business and didn’t ever take a day off, all to provide for us. I’m not exaggerating, we stopped celebrating Christmas about 15 years ago because that was one of the busiest days of the year. They tried their best to provide the best they could, put my brother through private high school because they wanted to make sure he didn’t go the way of many first generation kids and the fact that that decision didn’t work out the way they hoped isn’t their fault. Maybe they could have made better choices or said forget this, we want a better work-life balance, but they wanted to do everything they could for us first.
Yes the suggestion has been made that perhaps I’m enabling them or that I’m allowing myself to be taken advantage of and I can see that there is some merit to that thought. In response I have adjusted my thinking and planning for more long term planning. With Sibling out of the house, they have also been more receptive to the idea that they were enabling him and it’s more than about time for him to grow up and get along on his own. Also, I’ve taken a step back in trying to run their daily financial show (because my instinct is to pay off everything immediately) and simply contributing my fair share. They also do everything else around the house, all the cooking, cleaning, auto maintenance and home maintenance that I can but don’t want to do with arthritis, fibromyalgia and long work hours. I consider it a relatively fair, though odd, tradeoff in money and labor. Also Mom gets depressed when it’s just her and Dad at home for too long, so what does it hurt? I’d need to visit anyway and I still go off and do my own thing on the weekends.
Anyway, going back to the pre-marriage deadline I’d set: I don’t want BF’s parents to resent my parents or look down on them for taking resources from their son (post-marriage). I’m not saying that they will, but I feel that it’s a situation ripe for resentment. So, since I don’t know how they will respond to my parents or their situation two or more years from now, I’d rather plan for the worst and hope for the best.