How Do We Repay Our Parents?

Thanks to the clusterfuck that is today’s job market, everybody’s writing a think piece about 20-somethings accepting more help from their parents than the generations before them. But if we know our parents are going above and beyond for us, what can we do to make things right with them?

I really don’t know what I would be doing right now (selling roses in the street like a Dickensian orphan?) if my parents hadn’t essentially subsidized every choice I’ve made while trying to figure out what to do with my life.

They paid for my college education even though I decided to be a spectacularly impractical theater major. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have student loan debt. After school, they welcomed me back home for over a year, which allowed me to pursue a ridiculous number of unpaid internships and various theater projects. They didn’t pressure me to get a “real job” until I got restless and decided for myself that I wanted one, and then when my hectic barista gig proved to trigger my crippling anxiety they encouraged me to quit.

This entire time, my dad was quietly putting money in my checking account without even mentioning it while my mom cooked my favorite foods and took me shoe shopping. A few more unpaid gigs and anti-anxiety medications later, the feeling of being a freeloader was becoming overwhelming. I signed up with a temp agency, a job flexible enough that I could still pursue writing and theater, and made plans to use my savings to move in with friends at the end of the summer. I know that to have parents so supportive makes me a lucky bastard, but I’m worried that it also makes me a spoiled brat.  

Part of it is that I know that my situation isn’t typical. While a lot of my friends have parents who do things like pay their phone bill or help out with rent, a lot of them also are facing monstrous student loans, huge grad school tuition payments, or asking parents for help who can’t or won’t assist them.

In addition, I decided that my college education was going to be about following dreams and rainbows and writing satirical one-acts, so I ended up not the most employable person in the world. Also, I know that my parents’ ability to help me didn’t come free: My dad is basically the lawyer equivalent of Katniss Everdeen’s dad toiling in the coal mine, and that’s how he could afford to support me for a year when I really should have been supporting myself. I’m kind of the worst! So what should I do about it?  

I think that if this question as posed to my parents, they would tell me that I could pay them back by being happy. Although that sort of seems like bullshit, I know that if I worked really hard for twenty years doing something I wasn’t crazy about just so I can literally pay them back (which is something I really thought about doing), I don’t think they would be satisfied. My mom’s still waiting for me to write the Next Great American Novel (working title, The Great Gatsby II: Electric Boogaloo). Right now, I don’t really know how to give back, but by getting a survival job and moving out, I can at least stop taking.  

I can hear the comments before they’re posted, so I’ll just save you the trouble: First-world problems! White people problems! You and your pleasant, supportive parents can suck it! I know, I know. This “problem” that I have is really an embarrassment of riches, but I hope that I can make it a little better by making it known that they’re riches that I want to spread around. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

 

Kathryn Funkhouser still makes her parents birthday cards and sometimes writes things here.

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50 Comments / Post A Comment

honey cowl (#1,510)

Yes, this! I got a job right out of college, albeit a low-paying one, so I have never had to move home — BUT! I have no student loan debt (partially due to working 3 jobs throughout college and making myself miserable, and partially due to my parents’ generosity) and currently my parents are still helping me with things like airline tickets & absurd medical bills. How do I repay them for their kindness? I have no idea.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Lauren Also, Kathryn, the link to your blog is broken. :(

Mike Dang (#2)

@Lauren I think I fixed it: http://lookimadeahat.tumblr.com/ — Hope that’s you, Kathryn!

@Lauren Yes, that’s me! Thanks, Mike.

HarperK (#1,388)

@Kat Funkhouser@facebook I’m fangirling your blog name! *starts humming Sondheim*

Shit, things are getting hot; guess I better get moving again with my working draft of The Great Gatsby II: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold.

RosemaryF (#345)

As someone who was objectively “the worst” I went through basically the same thing. My parents tolerated seven major changes, along with two university changes, I have no undergrad debt because my parents paid it off while I lived at home. (Mom would sneak the bill notices out of the mail while I was busy being a self-absorbed turd.) I lived at home a LOT longer than is proper, and when I was finally gainfully employed, they still took me grocery shopping once a week so I could eat AND pay my electric bill on time.

But, through their support I’ve become a productive member of society which was the whole point of their endeavour, right? I visit them at least once a week to help out around the house, I take care of their dog while they’re on vacation, and I am now able to help them in ways that they need. (Not financially, just emotionally and physically since they’re in their 70s and happened to invest well.) Circle of life & all that. They took care of me out of love, and now I’m doing the same for them.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@RosemaryF Oh man, I the best course is to just feel grateful. Here’s why: I’ll bet with those grocery trips and such to help bail you out, you have pretty good credit (since you didn’t have to bail on or delay bill payments). My parents did the “sorry! you’re on your own!” thing when I graduated, and because if this, I was dirt poor for a while and developed a lackadaisical attitude towards bills (because if it’s between food or the insurance bill, you’re going to pick food). This totally wrecked my credit for years, because I lacked a decent financial education and didn’t really realize the real impact of my actions until much later.

So now, if we both apply for the same apartment, it’s likely you’ll look like a model citizen, wheras I still, unfortunately, get sneered at more than I’d like to admit. Their protection basically helped you become a productive person that they can be proud of. Looking out for their kids, and protecting them from making mistakes they may not even know they’re making, is one of the best things parents can do.

ThatJenn (#916)

@julebsorry It sounds like the lack of a good financial education was more of a problem than the lack of direct financial support. I am very thankful for all the money my parents have funneled into my life, but even more thankful for everything they taught me that helped me not squander it.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@Jenn@twitter Sure, financial education would have helped, but support would have helped a lot more. For instance, if they’d told me “we’re taking you grocery shopping so you can pay your bills”, that would have provided both education AND support, in the form of highlighting the importance of paying bills on time (and also letting me know that I could come to them when times were tight). I really don’t think “knowing you need to pay bills” is more effective, outcome-wise, than “having money to pay your bills”.

RosemaryF (#345)

@julebsorry I’m going to back up Jenn on this one. My parents didn’t intrinsically know I needed someone to take me grocery shopping. I asked, “Hey, can you buy me this bread and peanut butter? I have bills coming up and no food.” Then it got to be a habit for about a year where I would go to the grocery store with my mom and she would let me throw a few things in the basket.

I would also ask for Target gift cards for Christmas and birthdays because the givers could feel like I’m using them for fun things, but I could really use them for groceries. (And occasionally fun things.) When family members would complain that they didn’t want to give me gift cards because they were unoriginal, I would let them know that I was asking for them because I couldn’t always afford groceries, and as much as they want to give me something fun like a sweater or hat I needed groceries more.

I was always aware that bills have to be paid, and if they weren’t paid it would make things more difficult due to fines & fees for reinstitution of service and such. (Again, because of the way my parents raised me.)

One refrain I heard growing up was “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” This was whenever I was being punished for childhood offenses, but the side effect was that I learned very early on that there are consequences to all my actions, and I need to be ready to face them.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@RosemaryF Umm, you may not realize this, but your comment is incredibly insulting. I told a personal story, and put myself out there in an attempt to reply to the article. Is your impression of my story that my parents didn’t support me because I just forgot to ASK? Really?

Is it a good idea to skip bills? Of course not! However, I was young, poor and desperate – and so made some bad calls that unfortunately followed me. Believe me, at the time I had PLENTY of smug people lecturing me “just pay your bills!”, while seeing no way to actually make that work and get by. Positive parental involvement, like the author had, can be a great thing and can help kids avoid making lifelong mistakes. Financial education is a great thing, but it is still no replacement for actually having the money to pay for things (even if it’s parental money, which you freely admit you needed from time to time).

I thought this was a place where we could have some real talk about finances without a lot of judgement. Folks getting smug about making it on their own due to “good financial education” (that apparently includes getting a lot of help from their parents) isn’t really productive. I wanted to show the other side of the coin – what can happen if you DON’T have or use parent help. A bunch of folks here seem to say that, while on one hand they had a lot of help, their success was due to their good education and smart choices. Which is again, my point – it’s a hell of a lot easier to use your “good education” and make “smart choices” when you have some help in the tough times. The author shouldn’t be embarrassed of taking advantage of it, rather than struggling “on her own” and getting saddled with bad credit, or worse.

ThatJenn (#916)

@julebsorry I apologize if my comment about good financial education came off as insulting; I just wanted to give thanks for the good financial education I got. I’d hope that such an education might have made you feel as though you had some options for making things work, even if your parents couldn’t/wouldn’t help in that way. Maybe you were truly in a hopeless situation, and there was no way at all to get through it besides skipping bills; but my thought here was that knowing your options might have made a really bad situation more livable. (It was also a note to myself that, even if I can’t afford to help my own kids out with $$, hopefully I can help them with sound advice on where to turn when things get bad.)

wearitcounts (#772)

kathryn–you are not alone in your situation or your feelings. yes, we are incredibly lucky and it’s probably a really good thing that we know it and think about it.

i plan to repay my parents by ensuring that i do everything in my power to take care of them back, when the time comes.

lalaland (#437)

When I was an angst-ridden teen and angry for no good reason with my parents, I swore to myself that when I grew up, I’d make a lot of money, pay them back $x for supporting me and then never speak to them again.

Thankfully, I matured a little and actually have a good relationship with my parents, which is REALLY good because I realize now that I can never ever pay my parents back. Not just allll the money they’ve spent on raising me, but the time and effort and love they gave me, even when I slammed doors and was a huge brat.

I think (hope), for most parents, all they truly want are for their children to be happy, and that really is payment enough.

Oh, and grandkids. My parents really want grandkids now. ! Partly because yay grandkids, but oh my god, I’m just realizing, partly because they want me to suffer too!!!

(jk, just happy and grandkids)

lalaland (#437)

@lalaland That is not to say don’t ever repay them back with anything but your happiness and a grandkid, obviously.

Also! I don’t think this is a piece that anyone will tear you apart for, because it sounds like something many of us struggle with, even if the purely financial support from our parents may differ.

You repay your parents, by being around to take care of them when they get too old to take care of themselves (and you). Obviously, that plan works out better for some than for others.

nf (#949)

@Meaghan S@twitter This is a really good point. Adolescence lasts a lot today than it did 20 or 50 years ago, but old age does too.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

This. I was VERY fortunate to go to a state that has one of those great “Get a great GPA, volunteer, get good SAT scores, GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL IN STATE FOR FREE deals,” so I didn’t pay a cent for undergrad. My parents did prepaid college for me (bless them) so I actually got money back from that. That money covered all my dorm fee the first year and most of the bills for the next three years, but my parents would chip in whenever I needed it for rent, gas, text book fees, extra course fees because I was a double major, etc. They bought me my car. They paid for me to go to Europe on a study abroad once, and then paid for me to go to Europe again just for kicks. Because I went to undergrad for free, and because I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, they said “we will pay for all of graduate school!” Luckily I only needed them to pay for one year of graduate school (yay being a T.A. and getting tuition paid!) but they still paid for rent. And then they paid for more rent, and all the living expenses, when I did a summer internship in NYC. So I have zero debt from all of that. And then I got a job but when I quit that job, because it was killing me and I wanted time to look more carefully for a job in my actual field, they paid for me some more. Thank goodness I never had to move home, but my parents have given me so much, both in terms of tangible financial support and intangible emotional support, that I just don’t know how to pay them back. They both work good, lucrative, but difficult jobs as attorneys (in legal fields that were not hurt by the recession) and they love fancypants things like long vacations and Alaskan cruises and my mother has a penchant for fancy designer handbags. And I LOVE that they can afford to get these things for themselves and that they do treat themselves so well, but I am counting down the days until I can afford to take them on a fancy vacation, and to thank them with my ENTIRE BEING for being, really, the most incredible, supportive parents ever. This whole article and thread is so First World Problem, but the only way I can reconcile how incredibly spoiled I am is by reminding myself on a daily basis how lucky I am, and how I really need to be so grateful for my parents. I don’t take any of this for granted.

ThatJenn (#916)

@TheDilettantista I think we might secretly be siblings or something. (OK, my family aren’t attorneys, they’re computer scientists, but still.)

I got a full ride scholarship to my local state university that paid for literally everything, and my parents actually allowed me to turn it down (which, thankfully, meant someone else got it who might otherwise not have been able to afford to go). I still can’t really believe that, but I’m thankful, because my home state university was not as good as yours and I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much out of college there. That said, ten years later I kind of wonder if maybe I should have viewed education differently, as I watch my partner save to pay for his bachelor’s degree himself and get a great, worthwhile education at community college (and eventually, we hope, at the same great public university you attended).

sockhopbop (#764)

High five to whoever decided that Tami and Eric Taylor should serve as the poster parents in the photo above! I can never decide if I want to be Tami and marry Eric or have them be my mom and dad. Which is confusing and maybe a little creepy? But still.

a tuna sandwich (#1,562)

I am actually disappointed with this article. I know that this piece of writing was meant to be a very honest story about the unfettering love from her parents, but at one point in a person’s life they need to grow up. You can actually refuse Mommy and Daddy’s help, knowing that they need to concentrate on their own well-being. In fact, parents of older children are not adequately saving up money for their own retirement funds because they are selflessly giving money to their own children. Being a starry-eyed theater major is fine, but you can’t be starry-eyed about the magical parental money tree. Being independent is not just about helping yourself grow as an adult, but it’s also helping your family. I must say, it is a bit admirable that the writer has admitted all of this, because there are some kids out there that actually expect this kind of treatment and think nothing of it. My advice to someone who would like to pay their parents back is to simply move out, get a job that pays your bills and try not complain about it. Parents deserve their golden years.

Faintly Macabre (#1,043)

@a tuna sandwich “Get a job that pays your bills.” Thank you for contributing this brilliant piece of advice to the discussion.

dotcommie (#662)

@a tuna sandwich @a tuna sandwich This. Also! Secret! Sometimes you can find a real job that you actually *like.* Getting a 9-to-5 isn’t a kiss of death.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

You repay your parents by being an adult – which is not the same as being happy. It means working this survival job and probably many more after it. It means moving out and being without sometimes because we just don’t get paid as much as our parents. And sometimes it’s going to mean doing what you have to do to make rent without having to ask Mom and Dad, even if that choice means you have to give up something artistic or theatrical or fulfilling.

It’s adulthood. It sucks. But it’s also the only way to stop feeling like a spoiled brat.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@MuffyStJohn I actually disagree, b/c of the same reason I mentioned in my above comment. It’s a LOT easier to be a respectable “adult” if you have good credit. It’s a lot easier to maintain good credit as a youngster by accepting some help. Sure you can scratch and slog it out all on your own, but it’s likely you won’t have time/ability to network, take unpaid internships, develop interesting projects, etc. Meanwhile, you might also have to skip some bills just to get by. Fast forward five years – one person may have used their free time and parent’s money to network their way into a great job, and their spotless credit allows them to buy new cars and/or homes and project the image of an upstanding and successful person. The other person is likely still slogging it out, hampered credit-wise by time spent in poverty and having a more difficult time establishing themselves. Pride will only get you so far – most kids I know who accepted parental help are now better off than those who “made it all on their own”.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@julebsorry Being a respectable adult is not about having nice things like cars and homes, or creating the “image of an upstanding and successful person.” It’s about being responsible and deserving of respect. Relying on your parents to keep your credit clean so you can buy a nice car in 5 years is spoiled, entitled behavior – and I think that’s what the author wants to get away from.

I am not saying that one should never accept any parental help – my mother has spotted me unforseen emergencies in the past – but I do not rely on her for my daily expenses as this author does. I set aside my dreams of being “fulfilled” so I could pay my own bills (and I believe that putting aside the idea that ALL work should be IMMEDIATELY fulfilling is becoming an integral part of the road to adulthood these days). I worked jobs I hated so I could support myself, lived in shitty apartments, and yeah, I screwed up my credit. Five years later I don’t have a nice car or a nice house or a job I stumbled into by being well connected. I do, however, have my own apartment in a good neighborhood in a VERY expensive metro area (rare), pay all my bills on time, and work a well-paying, respectable position I got through some luck and a lot of hard work – not connections. (And I recently sold the car I bought a few years ago with cash – no credit necessary.)

Now ask yourself: which kid would you be prouder of raising? The one with the spotless credit, the good connections, and the shiny car, or the one who took care of herself?

dotcommie (#662)

@julebsorry I mean, there’s a happy medium here. My parents paid for my expensive elite college. I graduated wanting to go into a field that was shedding workers insanely (journalism), and I had the choice of continuing to work unpaid/barely paid internships and asking my parents for help, or getting a real job in a different field. I know my parents would’ve helped me, but I did the latter because I couldn’t bear the idea of continuing to ask for their support when they need to put my brother through college and save for their retirement. I felt like I got MORE than enough from them already with my college degree and, you know, entire upbringing. And frankly I would be embarrassed to live off my parents when I have the option not to–it would make me feel bad about myself. I work in public policy and really love it, and I feel good about myself every day that I’ve largely been able to take care of myself since 21. Sometimes you don’t need to follow your pie-in-the-sky dream to be happy–the real world forced me to try something new and I liked it.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@MuffyStJohn I’m pretty sure that if I polled the supportive parents I know, they’d rather have “The one with the spotless credit, the good connections, and the shiny car”. If they’re willing to support their kids, they likely don’t value “making it on your own” in the same way you perhaps do. Also, many parents would rather have a successful kid that can help provide for them in their old age – they likely see it as an investment, not a character-building exercise.

And, I’ve never seen someone hired out of respect for “making it on their own” over the kid with connections, good credit, and a nice car (unfortunately). So, I was more trying to say that these parents are likely acknowledging how hard it is to make it on one’s own, and offering a (often very effective) leg up.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@julebsorry I love this comment. Because we all network as though our lives (and livelihoods) depended on it, and there is NO shame in networking, so why is using a family connection any different? It’s not fair to people without that kind of family, but that doesn’t mean people with supportive families should shirk offers that could make or break their careers or happiness.

I also think this “No, it’s more responsible to silently just-survive and not take help” argument is a slippery slope to covering your feelings or eating your unhappiness. Would you ask your friends to help you move to a new apartment? Would you call a friend after a bad breakup? Everything good in life is about caring and supporting each other.

ThatJenn (#916)

Yes, this. My parents were clear with me from early on that I’d have to pay rent if I moved back in as an adult (which I never did), but they did, along with some awesome scholarships and a small inheritance, pay for my private college so I don’t have student loans, and have given me interest-free or low-interest loans and some pretty major gifts over the years, and when my mom inherited money and was trying to decide how to invest it, she actually took it and used it to give me a mortgage on my house so I did not lose it in my divorce (it’s a standard mortgage that I pay every month, but at the low end of what’s allowed in terms of interest, plus I never would have qualified for a loan with the bank at that point in my life), and she spent like $700 at Target to help me furnish my apartment when I moved out on my husband but before I could buy him out of the house, and she helped me access money I will get eventually early so I could pay down some credit card debt I accrued with him.

My parents both work lucrative jobs, and my mother especially has done a fabulous job of managing her money, and her parents did pretty well for themselves after growing up in the Depression. My mother says that her parents were doing pretty well by the time she was struggling as a young adult, and sometimes she just felt so sad because they wouldn’t just HELP her get through the hard times, and she and her parents always worked so hard so that their kids could have a better life and not struggle so much. She raised me to be really responsible and careful about money (except where my ex-husband was concerned… good thing that’s over and I’m out of debt), and both my parents say they’re OK with giving me things because I am truly appreciative, try to give back where I can (I take them to dinner when they visit, for instance), and never act entitled to their money (which I really don’t feel I am, at all, ever, now that they’ve raised me to the age of majority). Like TheDilettantista, I can’t wait until I can give them things that are as nice as they can afford for themselves, too.

I don’t come from a cultural background where you do much caring for your parents as they age, other than emotional care. It’s expected that adults make their own plans for their own long-term care in my family. I don’t anticipate my parents ever living with me, for instance; theirs never lived with them, and I can’t imagine them actually wanting to live with me. It looks like my grandfather might move in with my uncle someday, but that actually almost surprises me (it’s something they are both happy about, though). I don’t think I’ll ever repay my family monetarily, but I try to make sure that I pay for my own visits, now that I’m more financially sound, and visit often, and I hope that that works for them.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Jenn@twitter Oh, yeah. I also repay my parents by learning to say, “No, thanks, I don’t need any [financial] help with this” anytime I can afford to do so. That was 0% of the time when I was younger, and is greater than 50% now, and I know they are proud of me as they see that change. (I’m also proud of me.)

aetataureate (#1,310)

@ThatJenn This is an important angle on the story. You needed to get out of your marriage (for whatever reason) and I’m sure your mom was chomping at the bit to help you however you needed. Because that’s what I would do for my kids and it’s what my parents would do for me if they could and I needed it.

ATF@twitter (#1,471)

You repay them by being a functioning, adult member of society. I speak as someone who is now 33yrs old but who lived at home rent free for the three years after undergrad while I sorted my life out and my parents paid my student loans so that I could work for peanuts ($28K/yr) at a very prestigious cancer hospital to build a resume to get into a good grad. school.

If you live at home and they’re still helping to support you financially, you make every effort to cook dinner so that your parents don’t have to think about that. You do the dishes without ever being asked. You dust the house. You vacuum/sweep/mop the floors. You kept your personal spaces clean, including any bathrooms you use. You help with yard work if there’s a yard. You do your own laundry. You ask when doing said laundry if they have anything to throw in the mix. You offer to do the grocery shopping even if you can’t afford to be the one buying the groceries. You remember their favorite brands and flavor ice cream.

Basically, you can repay them in ways that show they raised a decent, thoughtful, caring individual. Selfishness is not living at home. Selfishness is acting like a 10yr old when you live at home and not the grown up human being you are. If they are helping you, you do what you can to help them. Make their lives easier just as they’re making your life easier.

Megano! (#124)

Tell them how much you love them every single day for the rest of your life.
And of course if you do ever make enough money to pay them back somehow, do so. Maybe give them the trp of a lifetime!

yankeepeach (#276)

@Megano! When I finally got a job that paid enough for me to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to parental funding, I took my parents out to dinner at a fancy place we typically go on special occasions and they rang up quite a tab — not quite equal to my college education but damned if they didn’t try! The waitress tried to give the check to my dad and he said “Hell no, I’m not paying for all this!” It felt really good and it was fun.

@Megano! I would like to either send them on a trip of a lifetime, OR I read about this thing on The Bloggess where you can rent a sloth for several hours. I would like to be in a position in life where I could rent my loved ones a sloth.

@yankeepeach That sounds lovely.

Ideally, I’ll someday be in a financial position where if my parents ever needed help, I could give it. In the meantime, I’m trying to take baby steps like asking if they need/want me to chip in when we do things like go to a nice restaurant or take a family trip. A lot of the time they refuse any money I offer, but I figure at least I offered.

Most of the time I just try to make sure they know I appreciate what they do to help me, and try not to take it for granted.

melis (#42)

The real takeaway from this article is that it’s probably useless to attempt to preempt hypothetical criticism in your last paragraph.

@melis Truth. I guess I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m self-aware that I seem kind of terrible? It’s like those people on WhiteWhine who say something horrible and then “haha #whitewhine!” and still end up on the site.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Kat Funkhouser@facebook I hate that you even have to approach this as though you’re terrible. “My family could afford to help me and wanted to help me, so they helped me” is not a crime or a damnation!

punzy (#160)

I like this quote about paying back your parents:

“You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment. Or if you don’t have children of the body, it’s left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one.

The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It’s the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren’t bankrupted – but rather, vastly enriched.”

― Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

Cavendish (#494)

It must be nice to have parents who can support you financially. My parents actually owe me money, their house was foreclosed on, my dad is living off disability and living in a tiny apartment, and my mom has roommates at age 60. I have been completely financially independent since I was 18, paid my way through college (with sime modest loans) and am currently a grad student living on less than $20k a year (without taking loans).

I’m not saying this to get sympathy. I just want a little space for comments other than, “My parents still pay my cell phone! Teehee! I’m terrible! How will I repay them?” You are all incredibly lucky that is even a problem.

Sent from my iPhone. Which I pay for myself. Along with everything else.

a tuna sandwich (#1,562)

@Cavendish Thanks for this post. I totally agree with you. It is a problem that I wish I had as well. I came from a single parent household and asking for any money would be a burden on my mother…which is probably why I had a slew of shit jobs immediately after I turned 16. But at least she’s not taking care of her grown daughter.

Aunt_Pete (#693)

All you can (and should) do is play the hand that you’re given. The support that your parents provide and the degree to which you accept it is a personal decision between the three of you. Your parents are adults and they have the right to do what they wish with their money. They happen to want to help you. Your responsibility is to make the most of it.

I find it incredibly frustrating and useless to compare my circumstances to those of friends and acquaintances. Would it be nice to have zero loans, a nest egg in the bank and subsidized vacations every year? Of course it would, and I’m sure my parents would have loved to provide me with those things. But it wasn’t our reality. They did what they could, and it was more than I ever expected. I think I have made the most of the support that they gave me and that’s all the thanks that they have ever asked for or wanted.

You, Kathryn, and many of those who have commented on your sad attempt at justifying years of taking advantage of ridiculously overindulgent parents, are a leech. Grow up and look after yourself.

bacon (#1,500)

As one who has put 2 ½ kids through college, I must say I was very touched to read this piece and the responses to it. One gets the impression that today’s youngs are universally full of resentment and hostility towards those of us who are lucky enough to have grown up in a more equitable society where education was less expensive and, generally, there were reasonably good jobs waiting for us when we got out. It’s a very pleasant surprise to see so much gratitude.

Kath (#1,632)

It took me FOREVER to “find myself” and discover what I wanted to do with my life. I can’t begin to tell you how supportive my mother was to me until I finally became successful at the age of 40. My father had passed away when I was 19 and there were several years that I lived with my mother. Basically, I always knew that she would be there for me. I now own an aviation company and my mother is 81. She is the envy of all her friends. I have bought her the latest large screen television, I pay for her Directv each month; purchased an iPad, a freezer, a refrigerator, I gave her a cell phone and pay for the service each month; a laptop computer; clothes; jewelry and a million other things. There is absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for my mother. My fiance’ has painted her home; fixes her house; makes things for her; we have taken her on many luxury vacations. I never dreamed that I would be able to give back to her in the manner that I have been able to and words can never describe how much joy it has given me to do so. I call her daily when most of her friends’ children call their mothers maybe once or twice a MONTH. My mother deserves it ALL. And my only sibling is very attentive to her as well although she cannot afford some of the expensive gifts – although she didn’t need as much help as I did either! LOL

Dominic (#4,440)

I am in the same boat as you, but I’m not out of school yet. I am currently in medical school. I sincerely want to help people and take my intellectual and altruistic development to their potential, but the thought of literally taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt would have been enough to scare me into nursing. Thankfully my parents were able to fund my tuition and I am currently pursuing my dream. Thanks for writing this an helping me realize that I’m not the only person with the problem of first world, white person guilt.

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