Do children owe their parents?

Source : Google photo of piggy bank saving

Synopsis : It takes a determined effort to save for your old age but most people do not pay enough attention to it resulting in their old age dependency on their children. The blog emphasizes the need for saving during your employment years that will allow you to live with dignity and pride until you close your eyes someday.

I have known horror stories of old people who were mistreated by their own sons or daughters so they sought sanctuary in old age homes somewhere. Often such people are found waiting at the railway stations in India to get away from their miserable life but have little money to pay for food and the tickets. They depend on the mercy of others who have a compassionate heart and see that the old people are famished and on the verge of collapse so they buy them some food and a train ticket to where they want to go. They are the lucky ones because most people just ignore them.

This subject disturbs me a great deal because I know that there are millions of old and very old people who depend on their sons or daughters for their survival. In the Asian culture people are expected to look after their ageing parents and care for them especially when they are sick or when they become physically challenged.

Just imagine an old man who is feeble and moves around only in a wheel chair but perhaps he was a great teacher, engineer or a scientist in his prime whom everyone respected for his knowledge and ability. He may have a wall full of certificates, medals and photos taken with important people but now no one looks at them or appreciates what he was when he was young.

Imagine an old lady who may have been a great ballet dancer or an actress who became famous for her beauty and dancing skills but now she is old and wrinkled living in great pain due to some illness.

Such is the ravage the passing time causes on people in their old age. There are stories of great movie actors and actresses who were famous but now live in poverty and squalor because they lost all their money, fame and beauty so people forget them. They are often neglected by their own kids who take no care of them and may even push them onto the streets.

I know a case where an old couple left their home in the middle of the night to escape and seek help because their daughter in law was mistreating them and not feeding them. She wanted their property so made their life miserable so that they would leave. There are numerous stories like this that come to light where the sons and daughters fight over the property or the money the parents may have so they try to push out their parents.

There was a great lady who raised her sons and daughter with all the care and love a mother could give. She celebrated their birth days, took 8mm film of them as they were growing up, cooked good meals for them etc. She was a model mother but after the death of her husband, she lived alone as her kids had grown up and left the nest to pursue their own life somewhere else. They hardly kept in touch with her.

She lived in her own house alone and was often lonely because no one came to see her or ask her how she was doing. She was not doing well because she was often sick so one day she decided to move into a hospital to be near a nurse and a doctor all the time.

She had money so she did not depend on her kids to pay for anything but she was still alone so she started reading every page of the Encyclopedia to gain knowledge. Her two sons never visited her or asked her how she was doing but the wayward daughter who had become a hippy came one day to convince her mother to sell her house so that she could get a share.

The old lady said that she had donated her house and everything in it to charity that made her daughter livid with anger because she needed money. Her mother said that she had taken good care of her and her brothers but now she does not owe them anything more. It was her right to do what she pleased with her house and property.

This story made me think that the old lady was right who kept her dignity while paying for all her expenses but she was a rare case. Not all old people are so lucky because they fail to prepare themselves for the old age.

In some rich countries of Europe, the government pays for the medical bills for the aged and sends social workers to keep an eye on them if they are living alone in their homes. The social workers buy groceries for them, clean the house and even take them to a hospital if needed. They get monetary help as well. But this is not the case in poorer countries meaning most of the countries where the poor people become dependent on their kids.

Now if the kids are well raised and love their parents, they do help when their parents need them but the daughters probably get married and move to a different part of the country so they take care of their own children and husband and pay less attention to their parents.

The sons may also move away and find a job somewhere far away leaving the parents at home alone. If the son gets married and brings in a woman from another family then the trouble starts because she may not have any affection for the old people who are not her parents. The story I told before in this blog reflects what some cruel women do to their in laws. ( Read my blog What have I become here )

In some countries the parents say to their grown up kids that it is their turn to help their parents who have raised them, fed them and took care of all their needs so now they must pay back. They demand a new car from them, a house or trips to other countries so the poor kids have to do it. I think such parents are highly immoral to even suggest that their kids should pay back for all they have done for them.

It is the duty of all parents to raise their kids properly , give them education and prepare them for jobs later but the kids do not owe them anything except love although it is not guaranteed that the kids will love their parents. The parents who think that their kids owe them for raising them forget that it is their duty to raise them without expectations. If the kids get a good education, a good job somewhere and are living happily, it should be enough and the only expectation from them. ( Read the blog Parents have a duty here)

I think that people who live independently of their children in their old age are the happiest people because I believe that every human being has a right to live his or her remaining days with dignity intact but this is easier said than done depending on how well the old people have prepared themselves financially for their retirement. If you retire at the age of 65 as most people do then you may live another 30 years before you die.

So unless you are well prepared for all your expenses for 30 years or so, you may have no choice but to depend on someone else to take care of you. So how do you prepare yourself for your old age, pay for all your expenses and die with your dignity intact?

Your wife is your dependent because it is your duty to take care of her as long as she lives. If you die first and she lives on for another 20 or 30 years then it is your duty to make sure that she has enough money to live on.

In India the old ladies are given the pension of their late husbands by the government if the husband was a government employee so that is a very big help to them. The government also pays for the schooling expenses of the sons and later gives them employment if their father dies in the service of the country like in the armed forces. Not everybody gets a government job and pension later on.

But many countries can’t afford it so the sons take up the responsibility to look after their parents. The problem as I see it comes from the fact that most people do not or cannot prepare themselves for their old age so they become helpless at a time when they need most help.

The need for savings:

I cannot overemphasize the crucial role savings play in anyone’s life. When we were kids, we had a piggy bank where we saved the coins we got for cutting the grass or doing errands. Slowly but steadily the piggy bank got filled up until it became full and heavy with coins. We then broke the piggy bank and started counting the money we had saved over a long period of time and were excited when we realized how much we had saved.

The idea of forming a habit to save starts early when your parents buy you a clay pig and encourage you to put your odd coins in it. Sometimes they too added to it when they had some loose coins.

Later when you start working and have a regular salary, you keep up this habit you had formed during your childhood to save so now you start saving seriously. Anyone can safely save about 25 to 30 % of what one earns and still pay for all the living expenses if living a modest life.

You can double this saving if your wife is also employed but the key is the word modest lifestyle. If you are extravagant and want an expensive car and such then it will put a serious dent in your finances. If you go on vacation and spend a lot of money every now and then, it will leave you with little to save. So a modest lifestyle is necessary to fill up your piggy bank that will come in handy when you are old. Now imagine how much you can save if you do it for 40 years!

A modest lifestyle does not mean that you are deprived of good food and shelter. It means that you have to curb your tendency to spend on non-essential things but concentrate on quality food, good shelter and clothes.

The point is that anyone can save and accumulate money for his old age. It has to start when you start working. You not only save for you and your wife’s old age but also for your children who someday will need a lot of money to get through college. Some kids get into trouble when they borrow money as student loan because they have to pay it back when they start earning so it is better if the parents can save for their education.

Everybody has a right to live with some financial security and the dignity it provides when most needed in the old age. But wishing it does nothing to achieve it. You need to have the determination to save to achieve your goal. There is no better friend than money in your old age.

You have a duty to provide for your wife and take care of her in sickness and health as you have vowed to do when you married her so she depends on you. Walk with her hand in hand toward the sunset of your life with your head held up high keeping your dignity intact because you have kept your promise.

Source : Google photo of a romantic elderly couple enjoying nature while sitting together on a bench in a tranquil day of summer in the park and enjoying the sunset years together.

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