Filial Piety 101: How the giving back to your parents starts happening
I take this behaviour for granted because it is common in my culture, but apparently some of you folks do not know what it’s like to be in a culture that expects children to provide for their parents in the future.
The term for this is: Filial Piety.
This is the crash course on it, based on my and my similar-cultured friends’ experiences and upon request of PK of Don’t Quit your Day Job.
SOME OF THESE CONDITIONS MAY HAVE APPLIED
1. Your parents may have paid for your entire education and life past the age of 18.
I’m talking tuition, books, materials (laptop included), room & board, travel expenses and spending money.
Thinking about it as 4 years of college education, it’s roughly $40,000 a year here in Canada or at least $100,000 in the U.S. which is about a $160,000 – $400,000 investment.
Sometimes more. I have friends whose parents bought them apartments to live in, cars, and paid for their vacations, etc.
A few of my cousins went on to do masters and PhDs (all paid for by their parents), so that amount can grow astronomically higher, into the $700,000 range.
A lot of my friends had parents who paid their way 100%.
I do know of a few who got $0 (like myself), but still give money to their parents each month because they make bank and their parents don’t (unlike myself).
2. Your parents may have let you stay at home rent-free while you saved up money for a mortgage.
As long as you live under their roof, you are not technically obligated to give them spending money each month unless you want to.
You will be obligated to pay household bills however.
Even so, your parents let you stay at home rent-free, your parents probably cooked, cleaned and did your laundry, and took care of you when you were in bed sick from overworking.
They didn’t ask for rent on top of household bills, but they tried their best to help you as much as they could.
3. Your parents DEFINITELY worked their asses off
The key common denominator in all of this is that your parents worked like mad.
They didn’t sleep much, scrimped, scrounged, saved, invested, cared, loved you and basically did everything in their power to provide for you no matter how little it was.
They didn’t have much but they gave it all to you, even the shirt off their backs when you were cold.
WHEN DOES THE FILIAL GIVING START?
When you graduate college and get a job.
That’s usually when it starts because now you have money coming in.
In my culture, whether they need the money or not, you are expected to give.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO?
You are expected to do some, any or all of the following:
1. PAY FOR YOUR YOUNGER SIBLINGS
I have a good friend who is covering her brother’s education. When he visits from Ottawa, she also pays for his trips and his food.
She put him on a budget but he need not worry about the money as she will cover it all on behalf of her parents.
2. PAY FOR YOUR PARENTS’ BILLS
Cellphone, mortgage, utilities, car, etc.
Paying 100% is ideal.
They are to live for free for the rest of their lives now, as you lived for free under them for 18 years (or more, depending on if they also paid for college.)
3. BUY THEM ANYTHING THEY NEED AS REQUIRED
Paying for car repairs, paying for meals, a new winter coat.
She’s a really good daughter, and my parents would probably adopt her over me, given the chance… although I’d probably want to be adopted by her parents too, so it’s a win-win.
4. TREAT THEM TO YEARLY VACATIONS
Small ones are fine, as long as they get to enjoy their life on your dime. They are not to pay for anything, including spending money.
Hotel, flights, food, transportation (cabs naturally), and spending money should be included.
If you can give them a luxury one, the bragging rights go higher.
5. BUY THEM THINGS IN GENERAL
Your mother mentioned offhand she really would like a nice watch?
You buy her the best one you can afford and you don’t ask for money, but she is now allowed to crow to her friends about how generous her son/daughter is.
(I actually do this for my mother because I love her, but not for my father. I’m a double-standard daughter.)
6. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A PLACE FOR THEM IN YOUR HOME
And vice versa, although in my case it is not that at all.
You are never to turn away your parents if they come for a visit to stay with you. You give up your room if you have to, to let them sleep there.
None of this hotel crap.
HOW MUCH DO CHILDREN GIVE EACH MONTH?
I can only speak from a few experiences, but generally, you give AS MUCH AS YOU CAN without bankrupting yourself, so that you can give your parents 100% ultimate BRAGGING RIGHTS.
There is no set rule.
$100 is the bare minimum but it’s a bit of a slap in the face and is hardly mentioned, $500 is “acceptable” as a real minimum, $1000 gives your parents bragging rights to the max to crow to their friends:
My son/daughter/kids send me _____ a month! I don’t pay for ANYTHING. They’re so RICH and SUCCESSFUL. How are your kids doing?
My uncle who is super rich, did not ask for $1000 a month, but my cousins came up with $1000 a month each because it was a nice round number to give maximum bragging rights.
Really, they know they’re just investing in their own future windfall.
The money will all come back to them eventually because my uncle is also a cheapskate.
I have other friends who give $500 a month, or what they can afford. Sometimes that money is paid in form of a cellphone bill, or car insurance, and their parents can crow about that.
My own sibling (a rather guilty-feeling one), still pays for my parents’ car insurance at $300 a month, and sends them on a 2-week vacation to the U.S. every year.
Ideally, you are to:
- Cover any / all of their regular bills
- Also provide spending money
- Provide some or all the money for big purchases (cars for instance)
BONUS POINTS: YOU PAY FOR YOUR IN-LAWS TOO
I have another cousin who ALSO pays for his in-laws by sending back $1000 a month to keep them afloat.
He can ill afford this, paying for his parents as well, but he does it because his wife expects him to front all the bills for her parents as well.
OTHER RULES REGARDING GENDER
If you are the girl in the family, you are still expected to pay them money (either yours that you earned or squirreled away from savings on grocery bills), but you can slide off with a smaller amount if you choose to, but you do not get any of the family assets.
That’s right. The girl still pays for her parents but does not get any inheritance.
This rule varies by family / culture, but girls mostly get shafted because their husbands are expected to pay for them, whereas the SONS don’t get that luxury of having someone cover for them.
You may however be asked to pester your husband to cover your family bills (see above with my cousin’s cunning wife).
If you’re a boy, you’re definitely expected to provide. No sliding off scot-free on this.
This rule is totally outdated these days as women now work and provide for the family too, but holds true for many families.
DO YOU DO ANY OF THAT?
I’m a very bad and SHAMEFUL daughter and I have been told that a few times.
My reasoning lies in the faulty Condition #3 — My parents did not work their asses off to give me everything.
I didn’t live an awful life AT ALL, I was solidly middle class. I was even a bit fat as a kid from all the food I ate, but they certainly didn’t sacrifice much in the grand scheme of things, and in comparison to the stories of my other friends’ parents.
- Read: My parents won the lottery and then wasted most of it on themselves
- Read: Your children are not investments
I don’t really care because I have never asked for a penny, paid for my own way through life and STILL give them rent money and food when I crash with them even though I normally wouldn’t have to under these “rules”.
I still respect them and know that they did give up some things having to move from one country to another, but it is their attitudes I have a problem with.
Anyway, I still buy them gifts, replace things in the house, household supplies and am in general a very good daughter by my own standards because I provide.
I just don’t give them luxuries that I don’t even buy for myself.
- Brand new cars (preferably luxury ones) because used ones are yucky
- $20,000 fancy luxury first-class vacations for 2 weeks — that is the amount I spent on a vacation around the world for a YEAR
- Whatever their heart desires
That said, if my mom wanted a nice warm winter coat, I’d pony up the money to buy my mom one (the best one is Canada Goose), but every time I offer she refuses.