Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens

Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens |

Hey Anna,

I've found myself in both a moral and financial pickle, and I would like to hear other people's opinions on this. Any advice or comment would be greatly appreciated!

First of all I need to say that in my family, we don't discuss things. My upbringing has been pretty authoritarian — my parents often used phrases like “You can't do that because I said so”, and they never talked to me about sex, death or money. I had no idea how much they earned, how much it cost to run a household, how credit cards work — I was pretty much financially illiterate. Only later I realized that my parents are not that good in managing money, either. I'm not saying I blame my parents for my own financial stupidity, I'm just trying to illustrate where I came from.

Anyway, when I went to university, I badly wanted to study in the capital. My parents said: OK, go, we'll manage. I had no idea that their idea of “manage” was to take on a loan. When I left school after two semesters, they didn't say anything. Only a couple of years later, my mother confessed that they had to take a loan to keep me at school. I was horrified and told her I would have never dreamt of going there if I knew they had to pay for it like that, but she just shrugged and said, “You wouldn't have listened.” Well, I bloody well would have! Since then, she's shoved this in my face several times in an argument, to which I've always said: “Don't you dare blame me for something I had no idea of!” I felt betrayed.
When I continued my studies and then started working, I needed some money to buy a new laptop and a couple of other things, and because I was stupid, I took on a couple of credit cards and then had a lot of trouble paying them off. I had to move back in with my parents and they helped me, for which I'll be eternally grateful, and now I've paid off nearly the whole amount they lent me. But here comes the pickle: I knew that the money they lent me wasn't really theirs — it came from a loan. But I trusted my father when he said that the amount we agreed on which I would continue to pay off was final. Well, silly me. Recently, my mother hurled another piece of bad news at me — after they lent me the money, they took on another loan, and now they're in a lot of debt and of course it's all my fault. My father never uttered a word to me about it, but my mother thinks she's entitled to keep me at home and claim more money from me, indefinitely. I want to move out, because I'm 27. I work from home and staying with my parents is driving me nuts. I love them, but our house is very small. I share a bedroom with my younger sister and I don't have enough peace and quiet for my work. I want to pay off my debts and move on with my life, find a boyfriend, get married, have kids and generally just live my own life. But apparently, I can't do that. Of course I don't want to leave my parents high and dry. (Which is a bit of a euphemism, because I know they have a lot of debt, but I also know that they're able to pay it off without any help from anybody. They just need to adjust their spending habits a little.) But are they right to demand more money from me, when they've kept their debts secret from me? Am I a bad daughter? 🙁

-More Than Finances



My word… your parents really have given you quite the guilt trip! I'm sorry you've been going through that. The way I think about things is like this… you can't take action on things you don't know about. If people don't tell you directly what they are thinking about or going through, then how would you ever know? You would drive yourself nuts (and it wouldn't do you any good, anyway) to try to think up every situation that is possibly happening. It would be impossible and horrible to try to live like that! So… with that said, I think it's people's responsibility to tell us what they want us to know. I never assume I know what people are thinking or trying to tell me. If they don't say it directly, it’s on them. My point is, there is no way you should be held responsible for your parents’ decisions, especially decisions that you never knew about.

I also think that you are being very hard on yourself. I noticed a few times you said you were stupid, and I really want to encourage you to give yourself a break. We’ve all made less than ideal choices in our lives, and there's no way anyone is expected to live life “perfectly.” Mistakes happen, learn from them, forgive yourself, and move on. 🙂

As far as your parents demanding money from you, I think you should obviously pay the money you agreed to pay them, but after that is paid off, I think you are done. You should be able to get on with your life and have the life you want to build for yourself. Who knows how many other loans they took out on your behalf that you may not know about? How long are you obligated to continue to live at home paying those off? You could be 80 before they are paid off! Your parents have to let you stick to what you all agreed to, and let you get on with your life. It doesn't mean you love them any less, obviously. In my opinion, they chose the actions they took and they also chose the consequences of those actions. Since you weren't involved in the making of those choices, you don't have to suffer the consequences.

I hope my answer helps. – Anna

Do you agree or disagree with my response to MTF? Have you grown up in a household where your parents knew little about how to handle money? What struggles did it create for you? What did you learn from those experiences?  

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