Your parents should provide for you as you grow up, but what happens when they ask you for money? Should you give money to your parents? The answer to how to handle financially toxic parents depends on both you and them.
Reasons Your Financially Toxic Parents May Need Money
There are many reasons your parents may ask you for money. Some are valid reasons, and others, not so much.
A Job Loss
Sometimes the unexpected happens. Your parent may find him or herself out of a job and in need of money. Our neighbor, Rob, worked hard all his life. Because he married young and he and his wife had children in quick succession, Rob never got to go to college. He worked as a janitor. While he and his wife were responsible with their money, they just didn’t have much money. They couldn’t establish much of an emergency fund because his income just paid the bills and covered the expenses of his seven children.
When Rob was 59, he lost his job. At that age, he had a difficult time finding a new job. In this situation, helping your parents out, if you’re financially able, is the right thing to do.
An Unexpected Funeral
If your parents no longer have life insurance and one dies, how does the other pay for the funeral? Funerals can run upwards on $10,000 or more. If your surviving parent doesn’t have the money to pay for the service and burial, contributing to this expense can be a nice gesture.
However, it is always better to plan for the future. If your parents don’t have a life insurance plan, talk to them directly. Remember, it’s never too late to have a policy. Burial insurance can be a savior by covering the funeral costs. Burial life insurance is nothing but a permanent whole life policy with small death benefits. Insurance experts also call it final expense insurance, funeral insurance, etc. You will be surprised to know that most of the big companies provide burial insurance for seniors. So, if your parents don’t have a policy yet, inspire them to have one and prepare for the unexpected.
For Younger Siblings
My friend, Joan, became friends with another girl, Leslie, in high school. Leslie had an unstable home life and eventually moved in with Joan and her family. When we all graduated high school, Leslie went to college for engineering and also worked full-time to support herself.
At regular intervals, Leslie’s mom, who still had four younger children at home, called Leslie and asked her for money. For years, Leslie gave money to her mom because she felt guilty. After all, her stepdad had just left, and her mom had to provide for the younger kids.
However, over time, her mother continued to spend irresponsibly, but Leslie didn’t feel like she could say no because if she did, her younger siblings would do without. Leslie begrudgingly gave her mom money until all the kids were out of the house.
Bad Money Management Skills
Now, I’m on the flip side and am old enough to have friends who have adult children. One of those “friends” (and I use the term loosely), Heather, continually writes on Facebook about her money troubles. These posts always appear as thinly veiled requests for money.
In the most recent post, Heather wrote about the financial troubles she and her husband have and went on to say that their 20 year old son, who is working two jobs and taking a full load of college classes, is giving them money to pay for their utilities and gas to and from work.
However, in that same week, Heather posted about going out to eat two different times and having a manicure and pedicure as well as getting her hair highlighted.
Should You Give Your Parents Money?
As an adult, if you find yourself in the awkward position of deciding whether or not to give your financially toxic parents money, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Can you afford it? Do you have the money to give your parents? Can you loan them money without causing your own financial hardship?
Why do your parents need the money? Are your parents in a truly tight financial spot because of unemployment, sickness or another issue? Or, do they have a history of mismanaging money and now, like so many times before, they’re in a bind?
Are they trying to change their situation? If your parents are facing financial difficulties, are they taking steps to try to improve their situation? Are they wisely cutting expenses and learning how to manage their money so they won’t be in this position again? You probably can’t give them advice here because they likely won’t listen, but you can recommend your favorite financial blogs or books to help them get a better handle on how to manage their money.
What does your spouse think? If your parents are routinely asking for money, your spouse may be annoyed or angry. After all, you’re giving away money that now can no longer be used for your own retirement fund, household needs, or for your kids. If your spouse is tired of you giving your parents money, please listen. The last thing you want to do is make your own marriage unstable to enable your financially toxic parents bad money habits.
Money arguments are the number one cause of divorce. Giving money to your parents frequently can definitely lead to tension and disagreements in your own marriage. Is enabling your parents worth it?
Should You Cut Your Parents Off?
If you do decide to lend your parents money, how often can you do so? You should set boundaries for the limit of your generosity in the beginning. Leslie, the girl I went to high school with, regularly gave her mother money for eight to ten years. Then, as her younger siblings grew up and left home, Leslie saw that her mother often caused her own drama and financial woes.
She cut her mom off about 15 years ago, and now she rarely hears from her.
I don’t know how long Heather’s son will lend his parents money, but I hope it’s not for too long. There’s no reason why a son should be financing his mother’s highlights and pedicures when he himself is working two jobs to pay his way through college.
Finally, if your parent is in dire financial straits due to addiction or gambling, you shouldn’t lend them money. Using tough love here would be the best advice.
Have your parents ever asked to borrow money for you? If so, how did you handle it?
Are you a parent? If so, have you ever asked to borrow money from your children?
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Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.
Money Beagle says
So glad my parents are role models at saving and living a life within their means. I’m quite blessed in that regard!
Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds says
It’s always difficult when families are concerned. My parents wouldn’t ask but my brother is in debt and kicked out of his flat so I took him in. I guess it depends on if you are enabling them or not.
My mother asks for money every week for cigarettes and coffee, I have two young children myself and do not make a hell of alot and end up putting myself behind to help her out, she often baby sits for us while I work and makes me feel guilt that I owe her for doing that but surely not 3 times each week.
My parents keep asking me for money and even took at least 1000 from my student loans in order to pay whatever debt they stupidly got themselves into. My mum likes to act like she knows what she’s doing and invests money into stupid things which causes her to go into debt. She cries and complains about money but she keeps putting herself into this mess. I feel like my parents only wanted me to go to university in order to get the money not because they care about my education.
My parents are addicted to spending money. My father has a pension but he blows it all away on online shopping and silly investments. My mother gives her money away to whoever she pities; a street musician or a random single mother. When their money runs out, they expect me to give them a monthly allowance.
I always say NO. If I give them any, I’m only enabling their poor behaviour. My father said he’d done a lot for me even though I used to work part time as a teenager, paid for my own education and never asked for a single thing. My mother said I am of no use to her and that she regretted giving birth to me.
I’m sure I’m not alone. I’ve heard time and time again stories of the entitled baby boomers as parents.
Stand your ground, people. DO NOT ENABLE YOUR PARENTS’ POOR JUDGEMENTS.
CHILDREN ARE NOT MEANT TO BE BORN AS INVESTMENTS.
This is a sucky situation I’m trying to move out go to school. I live paycheck to paycheck and my mother always ask me for money to blow at the casino . I’m sick of it . I’m asking for my money back and I’m saying NO from now on. So disgusted
Thanks for this page. I don’t feel so alone anymore. My mom has often asked for money but I always said NO with a firm statement not to bother me until I finish gradschool. So instead, my mom gets me to pay for stuff from time to time, which I make deliberate choices on, and sometimes I just give a small portion to subsidise. She hates me for doing this, but IDGAF. Ironically, during the Covid19 pandemic, my whole country was going under lockdown, so my sis and I moved back home to live with mom for 4 months. I got retrenched due to the pandemic, and I was still continuing gradschool online. Knowing my current situation, my mom still compelled me to do the grocery shopping, of which I obliged since I felt I was staying there and it was a communal contribution. Nevertheless, my mom was so wasteful and she would throw off a lot of extra food she had cooked. My sis was also wasteful with electricity. I got fed up living with them. It was more expensive than renting on my own. My country is currently undergoing it’s 2nd wave of the pandemic now, and my state is under a semi-lockdown. This time, being semi-retrenched, I decided it was still cheaper to live on my own than with a gold digger. Paying rent is anytime cheaper than obliging to my mom’s financial whims.
I have a friend going through this with her parents and I’m undoing a similar situation with a sibling. Unfortunately, it literally takes years of this financial abuse – it *is* abuse – to wisen up. All the while, they are getting rewarded for their bad habits.
I will say one thing in defense or justification of spending on mani or pedi. When you are stressed out, poor or broke, spending on things like eating out, new clothes gives you an escape from your hardship. It also looks a lot more achievable than trying to save a few dollars a week for forever in order to have financial security later. It’s like a dieter eating a cheesecake.
I’ve finally had enough of my useless family asking me for money while, every time they ring they want more money so finally decided to block their all their numbers, want nothing to do with them anymore should have done it years ago
My parents are just the same, as an eldest daughter of four I helped my parents financed my sisters education.
She was able to finished her college unlike me who, after graduated high school decided to went abroad and work and help them.
Both parents are my sister is such a piece of shit.
My father is addicted to cigarettes and in my country the Philippines, cigarettes are not that very cheap.
He is burning money everyday not even thinking of saving money for his deaths.
I think he doesn’t really give a a shit about it.
My mother is also the same, she joined 5 lendings few years back, she likes to doll herself but is financially incapble.
My sister is also unemployed and can’t even find a decent job.
And is not helping the family financially.
My parents are both working as well but both married at a very young age and had children at a very young age as well.
Both didn’t even finish high school.
When I try to talk to mother about the future, she gets nasty and tells me that if I wanted to help them then better, if not , then it is better for me to shut my mouth.
And by the way because of this pandemic going on, I am back at home, I pay half of the bills at home, I buy groceries and food for the house so I don’t think I am a burden to my parents.
Slaving myself 5 years abroad and sending money to home with my toxic parents is something that I really regret till now.
They have wasted my money.
Sorry you are going through this! The pandemic just makes it worse. When the pandemic is over and you can live on your own, it might be best to establish firm boundaries. They won’t like it, but you’ll feel better.
Jalisa Cottman says
Well my parents borrow money from me but its usually for bills and life insurance plans that they built for me and my siblings. I understand this but I get discouraged about my own finances i don’t think I’ll ever get out on my own or have kids. I’m impatient because I’m 23 and I only save $50 a week. Maybe I’ll have anything figured out by my 30s.
I just want to vent as I am on the verge of tears. I grew up with a single teen mother and my father passed away a few months before I was born. My mother is a great mum, the best I could hope for and she did a great job raising me the best she could with what little resources she’s had. She has always worked to take care of me and my 2 siblings. We are all adults now and take care of ourselves. 3 and half years ago my mum quit her job. I begged her not to quit as I really didn’t see a valid reason for her to do so based on the fact that her employer treated her really well and she got a good salary as a housekeeper. Anyway, she decided she wanted to leave her job of 10 years at the age of 44 and start over again. She received a generous package from her employer, I warned her to be careful with the money, make sure to put some in the bank and be frugal. She booked herself a holiday and within weeks the money was gone spent on travel tickets, travel expenses, bills etc. All of a sudden I’m responsible for basically all of my mum’s bills and I mean ALL of it. I pay for her rent, utilities, food, absolutely everything. This has caused me so much stress as I have my own financial responsibilities and obligations to take care of. I’ve asked her to seriously look for a job and 3 and half years later she is still unemployed. I’ve gotten myself in trouble with credit card debts and bank loans which I took out to help to cover her expenses and myself as my salary isn’t enough. I have debt collection agency breathing down my back and threatening me with court. I try my best to pay these agencies as I’m not a dead beat but I constantly fall behind and can’t keep up with my commitments because I’m funding my mum. I’m so tired of this, I work 6 days per week and I have no savings in the bank. I have my own dreams and aspirations but how can I ever own a home or a car when I keep paying for everything. My mum knows this isn’t right but she’s not trying hard enough to get a job and now because of covid she has an excuse to not go out and work. I feel so angry, sad, guilty, hopeless and depressed at times as every bit of money I accumulate goes like butter in the sun because of my mum. I worry about my future. I feel guilty to even complain that I’m funding her because all she has done for me as a mum, one of my two brothers have always helped her out but because of the pandemic his hours at work were cut and he had to stop helping as he has a family to support. I don’t know what to do, I just can’t stop helping her financially otherwise what would happen to her? I just feel like I want to disappear sometimes, the stress is too much sometimes I can’t even sleep I get anxiety and sadness whenever it’s close to the end of the month when everything is due. What do I do? How do I talk to her? I wish I had the means to have her stay at home and put her feet up but I don’t. I need help, please !
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this situation! It sounds stressful and demoralizing. If you haven’t done so, I urge you to see a psychologist. The psychologist could help you establish healthy boundaries with your mother; your mother may even be able to join you for some sessions. She may not realize how much her behavior is affecting you. Even though she did a great job raising you, it’s not your job to take care of her. You need to be able to have your own life and manage your own money.
My mom makes me pay for her monthly prescription medicines. I make enough to actually pay for these but I’m beginning to regret it because all she and my dad does with their money is spend it on slot machines and poker at the casino.
I always call them out but their response is: this is our money. We’re just having fun. We’re not asking you for the money we spend. They are both retired and have blown through their savings.
Like everyone here, it stresses me out when I cannot put my wants and needs first because I need to make sure that they’re ok.
Destiny C says
I moved in with my mom when she was sick and she wanted me to do so to rebuild our relationship as she wasn’t in my life growing up. I struggle daily with mental health and she wont take me to appointments or anything and there’s no public transportation where we live. She will drive me to work and the store and that’s it. I live in a home where she regularly belittles me and bullies me and lets my younger siblings do the same. Just today my sister went off on me over messenger saying she doesn’t want me around and i should leave even tho she isn’t aware that at this point if i leave they wont be able to live as I pay more than half the bills now. The worst part is when i agreed to do my part and start paying her rent for living here she told me shed put $100 each month into a savings account for me after a year i found out she has not when i asked her for it so i could use it as a down payment for my own place. Since she has risen the rent i pay as things have gone up in our area which i understand but now that my one sister the one who went off on my is 18 my mom has refused to have her get a job or help in any way like she said shed do. even if i don’t pay the rent and try to use all my income to leave i wouldn’t be able to do it as there’s nowhere under 1k in rent near me and they want you to make 3x the rent. I make barely over 1k a month. At this point I’ve honestly just thought of killing myself but I’m not sure where my cats would end up as my mom has a history that she taught my siblings of hurting and abandoning animals miles away from home to get rid of them and it scares me everytime I’m at work.
My mom She comes into my basement and continuously harasses me and I want her to stop coming into my basement. I want my mom to stop talking to me right now and I want her to stay out of my basement all she wants to do is come in my basement and harass me.
Alicia Cella says
my parents just did this before the holidays they used both my husband and I for their financial move and medical, transport and cleaning out their house. eight trucks 1800-junk it was devastating because we did take money from our savings, we are out $50,000. loss of work and income too. they had excuses and finally left and said they are moving to a motel as my mom said she did not want to go my father started arguing and almost hit me did not like me at all. they are now with a sister that won’t speak to me either .i cleaned up my mother’s bills and i have a poa for the sale of her house. i doubt that i will see any of what they took. it is sad that parents have to do this to children. they didn’t raise me so they wouldn’t know they have no feelings for me. the entire family sister Ramona, Mother Sheila and Charles is the father. why did we deserve this ??????
I’m glad i’ve found this page, it helps me to ease my stress.My mom is certified manipulative , selfish and liar. every ring is about money money money . She’s really good in drama, she always lied and pretend a lot of things just to get money from me.Im trying to be good and help her as much as I can but I’m tired of her,,maybe this time I will surely block her.