I got a lot of interesting comments on my post about the pressure my friend is getting from her parents. Several of you pretty much reinforced the way I feel about the whole thing, but there were a few comments that I really wanted to respond to.

To start off, So Cal Savvy said this:

My gut reaction agrees with the previous posts!

However, it might be good to look at the culture she comes from. Does she happen to be a culture that values family connectedness or one where adult children typically live at home until they start their own households? If so, she is experiencing a rift between old-world and new-world values. This is a diffucult situtation to be in, but one that is not new to many second-generation Americans. Looking at it from assimulated American eyes could belittle her cultural background and paint her parent’s in an unflattering light. Unless you’ve been through a similar situtation (which I haven’t) one would have little experience from which to judge the parents.

I hadn’t directly thought about this until she mentioned it, but its really true. I think both of us (my friend and I) come from a culture in which typically kids stay at home until they’re married. The difference is that back in the day our parents and aunts all got married in their early 20’s. Now its a little less expected for everyone to get married as young. So many of my friends are in the same situation….its not that they’re all lazy or too insecure to move out into the world on their own…its just what everyone does. Even getting parents to “let” their kids leave the city to go to college is difficult. A lot of parents tell others with pride “I got my child to stay at home and go to the community school instead of going to another city for school.” I actually know parents that bribe their kids with cars and threatening to not pay for school if they go. My only friends that live on their own are the ones that are eternally students, and stayed in their college towns. So yes, there’s a cultural influence in there.

Another thing to mention, her parents might be a little protective of her in light of what happened a couple years ago. She was living in another city with her boyfriend….until her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. I’m sure it was hard for them to find this out when she was several hundred miles away, and when they convinced her to come back to live with them its possible that they don’t want her to go that far away from them.

It gets difficult for me to remain completely unbiased with this case because I happen to know her parents pretty well, and I know a lot about their financial situation and some decisions they make. (By the way, they are lovely people and a lot of fun to hang out with. So I have nothing against them as people.) This is the part that makes me feel uncomfortable because I can be a really judgemental person. (I don’t say it with honor, this is my biggest flaw and I’m NOT proud of it, but I have to recognize the fact that I am passing judgement.) Her dad makes fairly good money, but she says it herself….they can’t manage money. They’ve been struggling as long as she remembers. This is the part that makes me mad. I agree with everyone that said it….I DON’T think your kids should be forced to help you pay for your lifestyle. They chose to buy that house, they chose to furnish it with brand new furniture, they chose to redo the kitchen, upgrade to a bigger TV. Yes, the kids might be thrilled that they’re getting a bigger TV, but the adult should “be adult” enough to figure out what they can afford. If they thought they were struggling badly perhaps they could cut back….on cable, sell the TV, stop sending the little one to the skatepark (and paying for it) several days a week, cut down on the beer and parties. I’ll shut up now. I think I’ve made my feelings clear.

The other comment I wanted to address was Barry Lauterwasser’s. I think others that commented hinted at it, but he put it straight out there. He said:

1. She needs to be the grown up, and move out.
2. You need to do the same.

At first I was a little mad (“how dare he! He doesn’t know me!” lol), but then I thought about it and understood what I think he was trying to say….we’re adults. (Yes Stacey, you’re absolutely right!) We can get up and leave because WE are in control of our futures and our choices. Too true.

However….they’re our parents. I’m not sure if this is cultural or not because I understand what my friend is going through. She wants to live her life, but at the same time she can’t just turn her back on her parents. I wouldn’t be able to do that either. As much as you can try and say “she can still help while moving on her own”, I don’t necessarily agree. If she moves out that will cut down her ability to help. Not everyone earns enough to be able to make ends meet AND offer assistance to their parents. Yes, their mortgage is not her responsibility, but she will still be watching her parents struggle and suffer. Thats something I was tossing around in my head a few weeks back. Knowing that my parents were struggling I couldn’t continue looking for apartments. Now that I feel that things will eventually be getting back to normal, and I can still contribute a few hundred dollars a month to them and still afford my “future mortgage” I can feel less like scum when I’m looking at apartments.

In the end I’m not sure what my friend will do. It almost seems like a Catch-22 for me, but I am kind of a “glass is half-empty” kinda person. What would I do? I think I’d stay to help them out for a little while. I’m not sure what kind of a savings she has, but I’d save up. I’d have a talk with my parents and tell them I’d stay for a defined period of time. In the meantime, if their situation is as dire as they say, they need to cut back. No more sending the little bro to the skatepark (its like $10 each time!! Geez….and the kid is so oblivious and ungrateful), and improve the managing of the money….because otherwise it’d be too easy for the parents to take that money as a “windfall” and spend it all instead of putting it to good use (If their money management is as bad as she says).

Then again, that is much easier said than done. Just bringing up money to my parents took a huge effort from me so I can’t really be sure that I’d actually do what I just said.

Thanks to everyone that commented on that previous post! It took me a while to respond, but I wanted to let those thoughts simmer in my head. It really helped me think through my feelings and thoughts, and if you have anything to bring up with this one….go ahead. I’ll be reading!