Personal Finance 

Asian Children Financially Supporting Parents

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Him of Make Love Not Debt just recently wrote about Asian Culture and Finances and the concept of children supporting their parents and asked that I share my own thoughts on the subject.

I don’t feel compelled to “pay my parents back for raising me” nor do my parents feel as though they should be “paid back for raising me,” however, I do whatever they ask because they’re my parents – not because I feel obligated because they raised me. At the moment I don’t send money home not because I’m a derelict son but because my parents didn’t ask me to, if they did I would certainly send money home. If my parents did need money, I’d send it in a heartbeat; I very much believe in the concept that everything is the family’s money. What I make goes into a pot that can be used for anyone else in the family, it just happens to be in an account with my name on it (or in an account with someone else’s name on it).

The thing is, every family dynamic in every culture is different. Take for example the story of Mai, who was laid off and still spent $6,000 on his parents for a vacation package to China. In my family, if I was laid off, the last thing my parents would want me to do is spend $6k so they could go on a trip to China. I don’t know if that out of responsibility or what, but in my family it wouldn’t be something that made sense. No job and you spend $6k on anything (let alone a vacation for anyone, you can always wait until next year after a job has been secured)? That just wouldn’t fly. (Of course, that story might be a little overblown just to get in the papers but whatever)

How does this work with my fiancee, who isn’t Asian? It better jive just fine because that’s the way it is.

Just kidding. 🙂 She’s fine with it because her sense of family is just as strong as mine, though the basic ground rules are slightly different as one would expect from a different family and a different culture. She’s a very caring and generous person, even to strangers, and so if you ask for her opinion of caring for someone who is actually related to you, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t think I could marry someone who wasn’t. 🙂 (Crowd: Awww…)

{ 60 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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60 Responses to “Asian Children Financially Supporting Parents”

  1. Tony says:

    This paying the parents and other family members has lead to divorce for me and my wife. I am a white American male. My ex-wife was from the Philippines. She was not a mail order bride. We met after she was in this country for 20 months. In addition, she has a career and is educated. Her family basically demanded that we send them money. They wanted hundreds of dollars each month. We hardly ever had an argument over anything, except sending her family money. I did not mind to send a big box at Christmas, or something for her dad’s birthday. But everyone was in on the act. She has an aunt in Guam that demanded $400 a month. When she did not get it, she stopped communicating with my wife. We had a child that was born 3 months premature. They were so angry that their “love” money had been cut off, that they never even sent us a card or anything for the baby. I kept telling my wife that we needed to save to purchase our own home, a new car, and save for our child’s education. None of that mattered to her. To make things even more outrageous, her family had money and already lived at a high standard, complete with house servants. In the end she told me that I was not her family. Her family was in the Philippines nad Guam. She also said she was ashamed for not sending money to them. I think thye should feel ashamed for destroying our marriage and turing thier back on my son. TWISTED to say the least!

  2. asian daughter says:

    I am from the Philippines and I know you are telling the truth. A lot (not all) of parents are like that over there. They use their children as investments for their (parent’s) retirement. They encourage them to marry people from rich countries so they could go and work and send money back home. It is embarassing but true.I am sorry this happened to you.
    This practice is common in Asia. next time, get to know the girl and the family well. If they act money hungry, they probably are.

    • Zeut says:

      I understand both sides.
      I was married to an Indonesian woman who told me, “Your money is my money, and my money is my money.” She wanted to have me pay all of the bills with my money because, “the man is the head of the family,” but clearly it was simply lip-service, because she would not listen to me about her money management ideas. We ended up divorcing, not only because of this, but it was definitely a factor.
      My new gf, and I are arguing about this topic right now. Actually, she sent me a link to this page. I do understand that a family should help each other out, but I believe you, and your spouse should come first. And support from a child should never be required, nor expected.
      I am white, but have lived, and worked in Asia on and off since I was in college, so I know something about Asia culture.
      As for Asians marrying foreigners, just to “have the good life” I find this revolting. My friend married a Filipina, and when she discovered that he was not rich, and she would have to work, she promptly returned to the Philippines. If certain Asians have a bad reputation for being money hungry, it is certainly justified.

  3. Non-Asian wife says:

    I’m a Canadian woman married to a Filipino man. I had lived in the Philippines for many years single, so understood the practice of supporting parents, so didn’t struggle with the concept when I married my husband. For many years we didn’t send support, but did have my mother-in-law living with us for years and we fully supported her when she was with us. Recently however, she has been sick and in her own country and we are sending monthly support. They rely completely on my husband and his sister (also living in America) for support. What has bothered me recently is that we visited my husband’s family and saw how they live — better than we do in many ways, and yet they rely on us to be sending money. It’s hard not to be resentful, but I’m asking God to keep my heart cheerful. I’ve got an amazing husband, a loving relationship, two wonderful kids, and adequate finances for our life here in the US — although it IS being stretched these days, and we’ve had several additional requests lately from extended family for loans (which, of course, become gifts as repayment never happens). Tonight I’m struggling with resentment. But I can’t let that creep in and damage my relationship with my husband first of all, then the extended family. I’m leaving it in God’s hands — and working at being thankful for all that I have, and trusting Him to take care of us now that our savings have run out and we’re having to tighten our belts.

    • Another Non-Asian Wife says:

      Dear Non-Asian Wife,

      I had a roommate in college who had an old clunker of a car. Instead of taking the car in for maintenance, she would have her boyfriend lay his hands on the car and pray that it would get her wherever she needed to be. I think Faith is a wonderful thing, but God also gave us Brains and I do believe that He expects us to use them.

      Your priority is to your children. Who is going to help pay for their college tuition? Your relatives in the Phillipines?

      Think about it…The Bible also says “Neither a borrower nor a lender be!”

      • Another Non-Asian Wife says:

        So sorry…I got my Shakespeare and Bible confused…

        However…here is a quote from the Bible

        Ezekiel 18:7-8 A righteous person “does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He does not lend at usury or take excessive interest.”

    • military wife says:


      I read your post about providing money to your husband’s family, and the financial troubles that resulted. I have recently dealt with the stresses of giving money to my husband’s family, however it was on a much smaller scale. I think you are right to pray about it and give the situation to God. I understand how something like that can cause resentment to develop. I need to pray about it, because I feel that over the last three months I have become very bitter, as I feel that my in-laws were selfish and my husband somewhat chose their needs over mine. I just need a change of heart. I hope your situation has improved. All the best to you!

  4. Nandini says:

    I have a similar situation with my in-laws constantly asking for money. They have been very irresponsible and have not saved a dime and have not even made a house during their time. In fact they did not even care to spend on my husband’s education after 12th. He has just done a basic degree that too mostly supporting himself; however, now they want him to support them financially. His dad drinks every evening but my husband beleives he is not addicted. They did not spend on our wedding and my parents did all the spending. They wanted us to move out after wedding and live separately; however, they want us to support them financially. Even as they know that my husband took a personal loan for making a different home for us, they expected a part of the loan amount to be given to them. This disgusts me and I know that they are irresponsible parents who are trying to live off us. But my husband gets very defensive and he always puts them before me. He feels they are family first. I was working until 2 months ago but right now im not. I still support myself financially and do not depend on my husband. Luckily we do not have any babies yet but I wonder how the story is gonna be then. I feel low about these things and we have a lot of arguments and ugly fights. I really dont know how to cope with all this….this is such a set back for us but my husband fails to understand….

    • Another non Asian wife says:

      Dear Nandini,
      You are wise to have these concerns before you start a family. Keep fighting…if your husband loves you he will eventually see the truth.

  5. notasiangrandmother says:

    Hi everyone, I’m an Italian-American married to a Mexican for almost THIRTY FIVE YEARS. It makes me so sad to read your stories here since I have been living it for far too long. Please don’t wait too many years like I did hoping that your husband is going to change this dysfunctional codependency between his parents and him. It’s an extremely bad addiction to break. This problem is not going to go away by pretending to ignore it like I did for the sake of avoiding major marital disagreements to keep the peace in the home at all cost. The cost is too high. in the past few years I have become depressed, resentful, I’m angry at myself for wasting my life in my marriage, I’m angry at my husband, I’M HURT, and I’m at the point where I don’t even care about anything anymore. My kids and my three beautiful grandchildren are the only thing keeping me going. And because of them, I know they suffer when they see me in bed all day depressed, I decided to get help and I am now on anti-depressants. Please don’t waste so many years like I did, get marital therapy now before this problem gets to the point where it breaks your spirit.

    My in-laws in Mexico have always expected my husband to support all of them. We have built them a mansion, my husband has bought them acres and acres of land, my father in law is known around his city as “The Rich Guy” while he wasted our money on women and partying and getting drunk. When I go visit their twelve bedroom mansion, they have rooms full of clothes and shoes and so much stuff it just makes me mad how easily they waste our money. They just spend nonstop and always expect my husband to send them more instead of saving and investing the money we have sent them every month for so many years. I feel so much resentment I don’t even feel like visiting any more because I know I’m going to get upset and end up getting mad that I’m always budgeting, and going without trying to strecht our money to the max while they waste our hard earned money left and right. I honestly wonder if they think money grows wild here in the States or if they just don’t care that they are abusing their own family and ruining our marriage. I know that in many Latino cultures it is the norm to send money to help your parents and I don’t have a problem with that, on the contrary, it’s nice to know that if you need help your kids are going to be there for you. The problem is when some parents take things to the extreme and instead of raising kids, they raise personal slaves to lavish them with luxuries that WE cannot afford for ourselves. I have my own adult kids and grandchildren and I know if we ever needed help they would help us in a hear beat but I don’t ever want to see them going through what I have experienced. I have raised very caring my kids who believe in helping their family and their parents, IF, and when the need arises but their number one priority should always be with their spouse and children. I just don’t understand how some parents can take and take without thinking about their children and grand-childrens’ future. Do they not even realize how this ruins their children’s marriage? I don’t get it. I just don’t get it how some parents can do this and not feel any sense of guilt- For God’s sake!, I feel guilty when my kids spend more than forty or fifty dollars on me on my birthday or Mother’s Day and I always tell them to get me something small and save their money to buy a house and to put money away for my grandkids’ college. I’m just rambling away here. Please if you get anything out of this comment; get professional help soon before this turns into major hurt, dissapointment, and resentment in your marriage.

    • psyche says:

      I am in the same situation.I am really fed-up.I just want to leave my husband.He’s the one working and I am a plain housewife since I have 2 kids who are still very young.His family would write emails,call on the phone just to tell him problems after problems and of course asking for money.This thing has been going on since the day we got married.We are in our 3-year marriage and I just want to give up.I hate him and his family.I really get depress everyday.I don’t want to live my life like this.I am still very young and mind you,his parents are still on their late forties.

  6. Hispanic daughter says:

    I came to this site because I didn’t know how to deal with a text from my dad asking for $2,000, he’s behind on his house payment. The truth is he’s never been able to live within his means.

    I am sad and feel burdened by the expected responsibility; and my husband and I have student loans that we have to pay back over our lifetime, and pay for our child’s education too that we of course want to do. We’re just trying to live the American dream, I want to pay off my house before I retire, if I ever can, and now I might have to make another house payment?

    I feel for for everyone struggling with this, thinking parents love you no matter what, they raise you, they love you, but you grow up and you become an ATM machine? I’d love someone too if I had that expectation.

    Sorry, I just feel angry right now and have to get it out.

  7. culture shock says:

    Making sure parents have modest shelter and basic necessties and food is honoring them and a moral duty.
    Anything beyond that is irresponsible to your own immediate family (spouse and children).
    My husband and I are from different ethnicities, but we discussed this in depth during our pre-marital counseling so that there would not be an issue in marriage.

    Even with our discussion about this, things still come up that are culturally different for me. For example, his family would frequently organize a lunch-they chose the restaurant and menu items and time- and then we are expected to pay. So we had to agree as a couple that when we budget that month to be able to treat everyone (have huge student loans we are repaying and saving for a house) we will tell them it’s our treat upfront-our decision, NOT theirs as in just pushing the check our way at the end of a meal- and in those instances we pick the restaurant and also have a say in some of the dishes that gets ordered.

  8. Chris says:

    I’m a mixed race English/Korean but raised mostly in the West.

    My mother thinks she can retire at 60, in 5 years time, and the kids will happily pay for her retirement, even though most people these days have to work until they are 70. Meanwhile she smokes herself 40 a day and drinks like a fish – if she gets a stroke and is bedridden for years then God help her, she has a great temper and is incredibly stubborn and I can’t see either myself or my brother wanting to look after her.

    I’m quite angry that she has put us in this position, not saving a single bean her entire life and never looking at prices in the supermarket. She fails to take any personal responsibility for her financial situation.

    There is no way she is going to live with my family when she is older (Korean “tradition” is for the mother to live with the eldest son) and I have told her this many times but obviously I don’t want her on the streets. The only choice I have is to try and support her to the tune of 1,000 USD per month within a few years, money I don’t even have.

    I’m extremely annoyed with this concept of filial piety. When I have kids, I won’t expect anything from them. Why should I? It’s just an excuse for parents to spend all their money on themselves and emotionally blackmail their kids. Way to go, Asia, this is one tradition that is just plain dumb in this modern day and age.

    The way I see it is that if you had the money during raising of the kids then you should suddenly have much more spare cash when they leave the roost. Where did all the money go?

  9. MarriageBlues says:

    My husband and I have been married for 3 years, but were working in different cities until two months ago. Our finances have been separate throughout marriage as we had two apartments, etc. Now that we are living together, I was hoping that we could merge our financies and plan our lives together with regards to payment of credit cards, student loans, etc. We are both Indian, and his parents have recently come the US to live with us. My husband told me flat out last week that his priorities over the next 3 years were: buying his parents a house in the US, a house in India, and saving money for his sister’s wedding. Please note: nothing about our marriage, our savings, nothing in that list. He wants us to keep our money separate and tells me that I can ‘save mine’ but he will do what he wants with his. He also accuses me of being greedy because I want him to prioritize our financial health and savings, because according to him, I have enough money to save for the both of us. I have enough to start our savings process on my own, but am afraid that his prioritization of his parents and family will never stop. I do not know how to show him that he should put our family first. Do you think that people’s minds can change, and they can learn to put their own family first over their parents/sisters? Any strategies other than marriage counseling? I think marriage is a crock and I feel very tricked and sad.

  10. MarriageBlues says:

    My husband and I have been married for 3 years, but were working in different cities until two months ago. Our finances have been separate throughout marriage as we had two apartments, etc. Now that we are living together, I was hoping that we could merge our financies and plan our lives together with regards to payment of credit cards, student loans, etc. We are both Indian, and his parents have recently come the US to live with us. My husband told me flat out last week that his priorities over the next 3 years were: buying his parents a house in the US, a house in India, and saving money for his sister’s wedding. Please note: nothing about our marriage, our savings, nothing in that list. He wants us to keep our money separate and tells me that I can ‘save mine’ but he will do what he wants with his. He also accuses me of being greedy because I want him to prioritize our financial health and savings, because according to him, I have enough money to save for the both of us. I have enough to start our savings process on my own, but am afraid that his prioritization of his parents and family will never stop. I do not know how to show him that he should put our family first. Do you think that people’s minds can change, and they can learn to put their own family first over their parents/sisters? Any strategies other than marriage counseling? I think marriage is a crock and I feel very tricked and sad.

    • psyche says:

      Let him choose,his family or you.If he could not decide then just leave him or file a divorce.You don’t want to grow old being burdened by his responsibilities.He would never change fella,I tell you.You’ll just end up hating him and his family.If I only have a work,I would leave my husband together with my 2 toddlers.The more you give,the more these people want something from you.They would never get satisfied.

  11. Bren says:

    I would never want my children to give me something coz they feel they are indebted to me,their mom!…Children are not suppose to do “pay back” but to honor their parents.

  12. jen says:

    I’m in a similar situation and it makes me depressed. I’m a 29 year old korean female that still continues to live at home with her parents. It makes me feel pathetic and it makes me sad that i cant do things that would be normal for others in my age range (ie save, buy a car, buy a house, raise a family, etc.).

    I have a good job making six figures yet I dont have a penny in savings to my name because I give my parents at least 2000 per month…

    I know that they dont want to take my money but the fact is that they need it. my parents lived out of their means for my entire life.. basically so that I could be raised in a nice neighborhood with good schools, etc. now they have no savings, are in plenty of debt, and have decreased ability to make money.

    i’m screwed and i’m in a lose lose situation. people tell me that I should stop giving them so much money but i just dont see how that is supposed to make me feel better when they cannot take care of themselves financially.

  13. The Politico says:

    I am 39 year old white guy born and raised in USA. My wife is 19 from Vietnam. Her family is super poor. I bought her father a new but cheap chinese imitation Honda motorbike the day my wife got her US visa. Thats ALL he is ever going to see from me. My wifes family is not my problem and I made that clear to her from the outset. We send pictures back to her family of us here in our new house and new car etc all the time. My wife is learning to play golf and we travel, but not back to Vietnam, we like Tokyo and Macau better. I think its not really much problem for us, as she is the youngest of 8 siblings. Let her brothers and older sisters help out her mom and dad if they can becuase we are too busy living our own lives.

  14. marhalpai says:

    Parents choose to have children. No one forces them. Once raised children should be allowed to go into their future without the financial burden of their parents bad management of their finances as there is a future generation to provide for. How can grown up children get ahead if they are burdened by the past, the present needs and the future.
    Your children are arrows set to fly. Do not weigh them down with rocks of old age and mistakes.

  15. Jessy says:

    I’m so glad I found this article. I was starting to think I was the only one with this dilemma! My husband is from Central American ( my family is also from Central America) and he has been working hard practically all his life to provide for his family. He is one of six kids and had to leave school at a very young age to help his dad work in the fields. His mom never worked outside the home. When he moved to the US, about ten years ago, he dedicated himself to working many, many hours to be able to send money to his family. They had always been very poor but thanks to his hard work, they built a beautiful home, put the youngest kids through school and enjoy a very comfortable life. My father in law continues to work in his own farm now and I have no idea where his money goes because despite all they have received from my husband, they seem to not have a penny to their name! All four kids that live here in the US contribute on a monthly basis, but in the two years that we have been married, there have been several incidents where we have needed to send additional funds to cover their expenses. We are very careful to make sure we are saving for our future and have even agreed on not starting a family for a long time, as it is very important to us to be able to provide a good life to a child. My mom worked very hard to provide my brother and I just cannot comprehend how his parents not only didn’t give their kids the basic necessities but also became dependent of their kids this way! Don’t get me wrong, I love that my husband is a good son with strong family ties- that is one of the reasons I married him. I was taught that family is very important but I was also taught that you should be respectful of each others’s space, time, money, etc. I don’t even have a problem sending money on a regular basis but cannot sit and watch them throw away our hard earned money on who knows what. My husband tells me he agrees with me and feels bad that things are this way but that he just does not know what to do. I understand his position and imagine it’s very hard to go against what they have taught him since he was a child but the reality is that this is really straining our marriage!

  16. tigerlilly says:

    Not directly related to financially supporting parents (we’ve had that discussion), but today my new husband and I were discussing life insurance policies (I just purchased a new one through work) and if he should get one. I mentioned that it would be best to have one big enough to cover his funeral costs, and then we needed to consider what would happen to me after he’s gone, since I’d need to pay for the house and etc.

    He said I’d sort of have a house, that I’d have to ask his mother and brother what they want to do with the house if something happens to him. Now, it’s HIS house, family isn’t on the mortgage or deed or anything, and none of them helped purchase the house. So now I’m wondering if this is cultural – that the man’s parents and siblings decide what to do with everything if he happens to pass away. And if so, where does that leave me and my children? We’re obviously going to speak more about it, but I wanted to find out how much of this is cultural first, and how much is just because he’s never been married before.

  17. jamuvion says:

    Its not just asian/central american families its mostly 3rd world nations. I’m from africa and live in the US but my parents though affluent most of their lives are now wanting a ‘payback’ since they’ve now retired. I am constantly being reminded on the phone about how much it cost to take me to school in the US and what that money could have done for them. It is sad. My wife who is also african have drawn the line. No more handouts. We have sent so much money and there’s nothing to show for it. You send $200 and next time you hear thanks for the $$, I was able to buy myself a dress!!! Unbelievable, a dress for $200. So my advice to those of you whose spouses chose their extended families over them, draw the line and say no more.

  18. Caught_in_the_Xfire says:

    I was also caught in the crossfire of Asian-Caucasian cultural differences regarding this matter. I am Caucasian and my wife was from Taiwan. We bought a house 2 miles away from her parents, and I had a really good relationship with them. Sadly, my wife passed away when she was only 36 yrs old. My wife never sent money to her parents, but I sent some money each month after she passed away. After a few years, I stopped. I kept seeing facebook posts from her sons where they bought new cars and remodeled their house. Their eldest son was a MD and the youngest was an engineer. I am sure they earned more than I did. They were both married and their wives also earned well. I was struggling a bit because, when we were married, my wife worked and earned the same income as I did. I was still living in the same house with half of the income. Her parents asked me why I stopped sending money. And I asked them why they didn’t ask their sons for help. I wasn’t sure if the sons were also sending money, but I got my answer when the mother explained, “they have children”. That really stung because I wanted children with my wife. At any rate, I refused to send any more money, and they have chosen not to contact me anymore. A 13 year, friendly relationship was tossed out the window over money. But, also, I felt like they were taking advantage of me, so I guess it is better the relationship ended.

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