2
   

What kind of support should I provide to my aging parents?

 
 
Reply Wed 23 Jul, 2008 10:26 pm
I need impartial advice. I think that this will be a long letter, but I need to make sure that you see the big picture. My mom is 62 and my dad is 67 years old. They came to the U.S. from latin america in 1983. Me and my 2 brothers came in 1988. This means that for 5 years, my brothers and I lived with an aunt away from our parents. My aunt and her family was very strict and she provided some sort of a family environment while we were there. My brothers and I felt abandoned by our parents, but we adjusted to our new life. My parents came to the U.S. to escape a civil war and to look for better economic opportunities. They were in their late 30s. During those 5 years they did provide economic support, but in all honesty, I became emotinally detached from them. I had a nervous breakdown of abandonment during the first year that they were gone.
It is not that they were a model for parenting. My dad was a womanizer alcoholic. My mom, stayed with him through the abuse so that we could have a dad. My dad always put his family: his mom, brothers, nephews, etc. ahead of my mom and us. That's the way it was and no one made a big deal out of it. In fact, a lot of men of that time and that country were similar.
My dad was raised by a single mother who was emotionally detached and so he moved out to make it on his own at 16. My mom was an orphan at 16, and so she lived with the aunt we lived with for a couple of years. From there on she worked as a sale person mostly: life insurance, makeup, etc. Due to her being an orphan, she always longed for children of her own. Also, she always wanted for her children to grow up with their father, even if it meant that she would put up with an abusive husband and all the cheating.
After five years of living with my aunt, we were brought to the U.S. I have to say that I that point, I wouldn't have cared if I had to live with my aunt the rest of my childhood. I was 15 years old by the time I came to the U.S. We were not asked if we wanted to come and live with our parents. They just brought us over.
Once in the U.S. my parents have menial jobs and work for mostly minimum wage. We live in a not so good barrio along with other immigrant families. My parents relatives live in L.A. as well. My dad hasn'e changed his ways. He drinks almost every weekend. He has no problem helping his family financially when needed, even if it affects his own household's rent, food, etc. My mom works hard as a housekeeper, etc. She always uses all her money to make ends meet. Specially when my dad says he won't pay bills.
I learned early on that this is not the life I wanted for myself and my future family. I get straight A's in high school, even while completing the ESL program to learn english. During my high school years, my mom always encourages me and keeps on saying that I can become anyhting I want. My dad mostly goes out to his family to hang out. My dad wants me to get a job and help the family. My mom won't allow it because she says that my job is to study only.
I break the odds. I graduate top 3% in my high school, I attend a top 3 engineering school in california, I get a masters as well in engineering. While in college, my mom keeps providing moral support. She keeps telling me not to give up. My dad has no input at all. I don't receive any type of financial help while in college fom neither one of them. I have $100K loan to prove it.
Fast foward 10 years. I am 35 and married my high school sweet heart. I have a child. I work for a top high tech company.
Both my parents are proud. I am their life accomplishment. My dad loves to hear from people and relatives that ....." your hard work and sacrifices paid off..." The other question that follows is..."why isn't your son, who is an engineer, supporting you or helping you financially?" I don't help them financially. Once in a while I might give them a couple hundred dollars. Let's say less than $1000 per year. My wife doesn't object to this, but at the same time she doesn't want me to give more. Her parents were immigrants as well with no education. However, they made better life decisions and now own a house and have some savings, even after raising 8 children. Even though they are in their early 70's, they don't want nor ask for any help from their children and they have jobs that provide some income. So, we don't provide any financial help to them. So the problem is that my dad expects financial help from me and he is not shy in saying so. He always says how he helped his mom until her death. My mom does not ask for any money, but she needs a lot of emotional support from her children. We don't want nor can provide this type of support. We all have families of our own. I think that there is also a sense of resentment from all of us towards them. We try not to talk to them that often. Both my parents resent this. But from my perspective, I don't want to bring the emotional baggage that they create to my home. I have had arguments with my wife over this. Since I grew up in a broken dysfunctional family, I want to be there for my family and have told my parents that my wife and children are my priority now. They don't agree with this. Anyway, the question is: I would like to help my mom some, I don't care for my dad's well being, but he lives with her so he would benefit as well. I have asked them to go back to our native country and that I would be able to help them some there, since things are cheaper there. My mom does not want to go back. She wants to live in L.A. even though they can't really afford it. My dad's social security check is not enough to make ends meet. They both don't havea job, but are looking for one. Whenever I see them, I get some sort of guilt treat about supporting them from y dad or a guilt trip from my mom about not providing emotional support. I would rather not see them that often. I want to just take care of my wife and child. At the same time I feel guilty about not providing for my mom, who always encouraged me to dream big. My dad basically thinks that I am a bastard and that I will pay later on for not being a good son. What do yo think?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jul, 2008 11:28 pm
Beg your pardon, ConfusedX, but I need to break this down to read it comfortably.

So -- the breaks I made don't always make sense.. just a way for me to read more easily.



____________________________________________________________


I need impartial advice. I think that this will be a long letter, but I need to make sure that you see the big picture. My mom is 62 and my dad is 67 years old. They came to the U.S. from latin america in 1983. Me and my 2 brothers came in 1988. This means that for 5 years, my brothers and I lived with an aunt away from our parents.



My aunt and her family was very strict and she provided some sort of a family environment while we were there. My brothers and I felt abandoned by our parents, but we adjusted to our new life. My parents came to the U.S. to escape a civil war and to look for better economic opportunities. They were in their late 30s. During those 5 years they did provide economic support, but in all honesty, I became emotinally detached from them. I had a nervous breakdown of abandonment during the first year that they were gone.



It is not that they were a model for parenting. My dad was a womanizer alcoholic. My mom, stayed with him through the abuse so that we could have a dad. My dad always put his family: his mom, brothers, nephews, etc. ahead of my mom and us. That's the way it was and no one made a big deal out of it. In fact, a lot of men of that time and that country were similar.



My dad was raised by a single mother who was emotionally detached and so he moved out to make it on his own at 16. My mom was an orphan at 16, and so she lived with the aunt we lived with for a couple of years. From there on she worked as a sale person mostly: life insurance, makeup, etc. Due to her being an orphan, she always longed for children of her own. Also, she always wanted for her children to grow up with their father, even if it meant that she would put up with an abusive husband and all the cheating.



After five years of living with my aunt, we were brought to the U.S. I have to say that I that point, I wouldn't have cared if I had to live with my aunt the rest of my childhood. I was 15 years old by the time I came to the U.S. We were not asked if we wanted to come and live with our parents. They just brought us over.



Once in the U.S. my parents have menial jobs and work for mostly minimum wage. We live in a not so good barrio along with other immigrant families. My parents relatives live in L.A. as well. My dad hasn'e changed his ways. He drinks almost every weekend. He has no problem helping his family financially when needed, even if it affects his own household's rent, food, etc. My mom works hard as a housekeeper, etc. She always uses all her money to make ends meet. Specially when my dad says he won't pay bills.



I learned early on that this is not the life I wanted for myself and my future family. I get straight A's in high school, even while completing the ESL program to learn english. During my high school years, my mom always encourages me and keeps on saying that I can become anyhting I want. My dad mostly goes out to his family to hang out. My dad wants me to get a job and help the family. My mom won't allow it because she says that my job is to study only.



I break the odds. I graduate top 3% in my high school, I attend a top 3 engineering school in california, I get a masters as well in engineering. While in college, my mom keeps providing moral support. She keeps telling me not to give up. My dad has no input at all. I don't receive any type of financial help while in college fom neither one of them. I have $100K loan to prove it.
Fast foward 10 years. I am 35 and married my high school sweet heart. I have a child. I work for a top high tech company.



Both my parents are proud. I am their life accomplishment. My dad loves to hear from people and relatives that ....." your hard work and sacrifices paid off..." The other question that follows is..."why isn't your son, who is an engineer, supporting you or helping you financially?" I don't help them financially. Once in a while I might give them a couple hundred dollars. Let's say less than $1000 per year. My wife doesn't object to this, but at the same time she doesn't want me to give more. Her parents were immigrants as well with no education. However, they made better life decisions and now own a house and have some savings, even after raising 8 children. Even though they are in their early 70's, they don't want nor ask for any help from their children and they have jobs that provide some income.



So, we don't provide any financial help to them. So the problem is that my dad expects financial help from me and he is not shy in saying so. He always says how he helped his mom until her death. My mom does not ask for any money, but she needs a lot of emotional support from her children. We don't want nor can provide this type of support. We all have families of our own. I think that there is also a sense of resentment from all of us towards them. We try not to talk to them that often. Both my parents resent this. But from my perspective, I don't want to bring the emotional baggage that they create to my home. I have had arguments with my wife over this.


Since I grew up in a broken dysfunctional family, I want to be there for my family and have told my parents that my wife and children are my priority now. They don't agree with this. Anyway, the question is: I would like to help my mom some, I don't care for my dad's well being, but he lives with her so he would benefit as well. I have asked them to go back to our native country and that I would be able to help them some there, since things are cheaper there. My mom does not want to go back. She wants to live in L.A. even though they can't really afford it. My dad's social security check is not enough to make ends meet. They both don't havea job, but are looking for one.


Whenever I see them, I get some sort of guilt treat about supporting them from y dad or a guilt trip from my mom about not providing emotional support. I would rather not see them that often. I want to just take care of my wife and child. At the same time I feel guilty about not providing for my mom, who always encouraged me to dream big. My dad basically thinks that I am a bastard and that I will pay later on for not being a good son. What do yo think?








I'll post this and be back..
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jul, 2008 11:42 pm
OK, I read it, very well expressed, Conf. As long as I'm being obnoxious I'm shortening your name as I presume you will not always want to be known on a2k as confused, given you're pretty good at analysis.

I don't have immediate answers, it's later here in New Mexico, but I'm in general sympathy with you. Will try to post more tomorrow.
0 Replies
 
Amigo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 12:19 am
ConfusedX,

I thought I had an answer for you. The answer was "To hell with your dad, Do unto others as they have done unto you" but after reading the whole thing I understand why you are here and that there is not an easy answer.

I am also for an immigrant mexican family from LA. My grandfather sounds like your dad.

Maybe machismo did not allow him to show love and he dispersed wealth where it was needed most?
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 07:01 am
I'm not familiar with the cultural expectations within the Latin American community regarding extended family support but my preconceived notions are that such support is more prevalent than in many other communities in the US today. I'm guessing your father considers you ungrateful because of those expectations.

Guilt can only be self-imposed. Others can try to make you feel guilty but only you can wear it, or choose not to. You say you feel guilty for not providing for your mom, but you also said that what she's looking for is emotional support not financial support and that you aren't willing to give her that kind of help.

To break it down simply, your father wants financial support that you don't want to provide, your mother wants emotional support that you don't want to provide, you're willing to provide your mother financial support that she hasn't asked for knowing that it will benefit your father. Do you see how circular that is?

If it's a question of your guilt towards your mother then your solution is faulty.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 07:31 am
ConfusedX- Welcome to A2K! Very Happy

I do not come from Latin America, so my "take" on the subject may be culturally biased. Saying that, I have always been a big believer that parents owe it to their children to see that they get on their feet financially when they are just starting out, not the other way around.

Apparently your parents were not there for you when you needed them. Despite that, you raised yourself way above the circumstances to which you were born. I congratulate you for that.

I see no obligation for you to support them. If you want to, I see no problem with giving them some money (If your own family does not need it). The difference is, it would then be a gift out of the goodness of your heart, not a moral imperative.


Quote:
My dad basically thinks that I am a bastard and that I will pay later on for not being a good son. What do yo think?


That is HIS problem. He sounds like a manipulating s.o.b, who is looking to hang on to the son who has "made it" even though he has done little to deserve your support. He is blackmailing you emotionally.

Let go of the guilt. You do not deserve it. There will always be relatives who think that because a family member has some money, they are entitled to eat from the trough. They have no right. You made your life with YOUR family, so live it, and don't allow your father to tie you in knots emotionally.
0 Replies
 
ConfusedX
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 12:17 pm
More information...
Thank you for your feedback. I have lived in the US for 20 years so my perspectives and beliefs are more Americanized. I have told my parents this.
I want to clarify that the reason I don't want to support the emotional support to my mom is because it also affects me. Let me explain. My mom has endured a tough life with my dad being an alcoholic and a womanizer as well as physical abuse. Since she didn't get all the love from her husband that she longed, she loved us with all her heart. I understand that this is a good thing for children. However, even as adults, she will still refer to us as her beautiful, smart, precious, children who can do no bad. She is always talking in those terms about us to everyone. It is quite humilliating when she does this in front of me. I have asked her many, many times to please not do that. I am an adult and although I know she loves me, it is not appropriate to treat me this way.
The type of support I have provided over the years is to call often to talk to her, 2 or 3 times a week. She tells me everything, problems with my dad, etc. I am basically her listening post. I would lie if I said that her problems with my dad don't affect me personally. I just want them to live their life, whichever way they want and just let me be.
I have issues of my own and I have been married for 10 years and I don't want to bring that extra baggage to my family (wife and daughter).
My resolution now has been to distance myself from them. I live in Silicon Valley and they live in L.A. We'll see how things go......
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 01:13 pm
Quote:
The type of support I have provided over the years is to call often to talk to her, 2 or 3 times a week. She tells me everything, problems with my dad, etc. I am basically her listening post. I would lie if I said that her problems with my dad don't affect me personally. I just want them to live their life, whichever way they want and just let me be.


There are two sides to every conversation. She is able to tell you every excruciating detail, because you permit it. If it were me, I would not cut her off all at once, because I think that would be cruel. I think that when she starts going into details, you might want to change the subject, and eventually even tell her that you don't want to be so tightly involved in her drama.

Remember, you have been relating to her the way that you have for a long time. When you start to control your involvement in the situation, there WILL be fallout, so expect it.

Your main loyalty needs to be to your wife and child.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 02:45 pm
I think you are a good son.

Your mother's situation and behavior with it are possibly enhanced by cultural mores, but are, I take it, a pattern in probably all geographies and all social classes. Probably less so in the more educated and psychologically aware, but I'm not even sure of that. Anyway, it's long term behavior, or seems so. There was a popular word about this for a while - co-dependence.

For someone like your mother to want to get out of what I see from here as a psychological and physical trap, which I figure would be a jump for her to even think of, she'd have to want to make changes, if only in the way she relates to her husband. For the younger or not so set folks, something like an al-anon group, or personal counseling could be a good step. Maybe for your mother too, I don't know her. Is she religious? Perhaps a local advisor..

But her long term absorption of an abusive marriage and reliance for emotional comfort on her wonderful babies likely are, as you explained, really intertwined. I don't know how much good remonstrating with her about her talk about her children will ever do. I don't think she can see what you mean. Maybe it's possible that she could come to see your point, I just don't know.

So, my most immediate thought is, just love her. Don't foster all the extensive 'abuse sharing' but don't be cold to her.

On money, what about giving her - hmmm, in an account with both your names? the amount of support you'd be able to do if she were back in the old country..
I don't know that that would solve anything re their current situation.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 02:51 pm
Adding -

does your mother have any girlfriends? Sometimes girlfriends are good at knocking some sense into each other, sometimes with only a sentence or two, possibly not even directly in regard to personal problems.
0 Replies
 
ConfusedX
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 03:31 pm
continuation...
yes, she has friends and she goes to church a lot. I think that it is just the emotinal detachment that she has with my dad that she needs to have us somehow make up for. Anyway, thanks for all your feedback. It falls along the same thoughts that I had.
0 Replies
 
SureshIndia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2008 08:46 am
To tell you honestly, I had similar issues with my parents. My mother passed away in January 2006. I now regret not having provided all the help and support, I could have given her when she was alive.
I used to think that I was a self-made man. But when I look back, I realize that my parents did the best they could, given the circumstances they were in.
I believe you should help your Mother and Father as much as you can. That will make them bless you and your family. And the blessings of your parents will definitely bring happiness, joy and prosperity to your family and you in the long run. Remember, your parents will pass away one day. Once they go to the other plane after their death, their spirits will have the choice to shower the help they want on you and your family. If you look after their interests now, their Spirits will definitely protect you and your family and they will also shower as much happiness and prosperity that they can on you and your family. So please help your parents (both Mother and Father) financially and emotionally. Please don't be selfish and think only about yourself and your wife and kids. You owe it to your parents to help them. You may think that you are a self-made man. But it is because of your parents that you are here. And when you where a kid, they have made a lot of sacrifices for your sake, which you cannot remember because you were a kid.
Suresh Menon
India
Mobile Phone: +91-99625 11561
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