When S and I got married, we had mandatory premarital counseling at the church. Premarital counseling may be the wrong term. We each filled out a quiz, and then we met with the family minister Robin to go over the results. Through this exercise we didn't find out much that was surprising. The area that had all sorts of warning flags on our quiz results was family background. We were raised very, very differently.
And for some reason S and I do okay despite being raised by polar opposite parents. They are opposite in every way, which causes us to lament on almost a daily basis, "Why can't they be somewhere in the middle?"
S's parents are the meddlesome, suffocating types. My mom is the extremely detached type. A compromise would be nice.
No offense to S, but his parents think he is, ummmmm, not right. Yep, he is "not right" about pretty much everything. They are the correct ones. His older brother is almost always correct. His sister is mostly correct. And poor S is misguided and not quite "with it." It's funny because everyone S works with and is friends with thinks he's super smart. His previous boss thought he was in Mensa. Well, his parents are ardent Republican who abhor dissent. Plus S is the baby of the family. Put those two together, and he's fighting a very uphill battle for one iota of respect in his family.
In contrast, my mom thinks he walks on water. And let me tell you, my mom doesn't like anyone. But she adores S. He's the son she never had. She will do whatever he says. It's freaky to see the lieutenant colonel (my mom) take orders from only one person in the world: my dear husband.
We have a very weird parental set-up to begin with. Then when you overlay money onto it, it just gets even stranger.
S's parents made good money when they were working, and they decided to retire in their early 50s. Now if you can retire in your 50s, I applaud you. The problem was that they retired on a fixed income but still spent money like they were working and making 3 times more. They've been retired almost 15 years now, and the well has pretty much dried up. They have high expenses (freaking high mortgage, home equity loans, credit cards, car expenses, etc.) and a relatively low monthly pension.
Then there's my mom. The frugal queen. She makes good money, mortgage-free, and lives like a college student. I introduced her to Craigslist a few years ago, and she literally buys everything off Craigslist or at the Grocery Outlet (remember the expired egg beaters????). She has furnished her whole house off Craigslist - except for Brown Flowers, the couch from 1976 that she still has. Let's just say that my mother does not need to work, and she could afford pretty much anything she wanted. But she chooses to live like she's one step from being homeless.
S and I wish his parents were more responsible with money, and we wish my mom enjoyed her money a little more. There's got to be some middle ground.
We're waiting for the inevitable to happen. S's parents will need help at some point. Honestly I think it will be sooner rather than later. I've picked up small bits of their conversation to each other, and what I hear makes me very nervous.
I won't let family go without food or shelter. They will have some place to live and food to eat. S and I even talked about buying them a small place nearby. I wish they were more responsible with their money. Some of their family members are very well off, so S's parents join them on all these vacations that they can't afford given how much debt they have. I guess they don't want to admit to others that they just can't pull it off.
I have a harder time giving them money to live. They seem to spend so freely now that I would have a hard time watching my money go to their vacations. That's why I'd rather pay directly for their necessities instead of just giving them money. At least if we bought them a small house, we'd get the equity in the house.
Watching your parents grow older sucks. At least we only have to worry about S's parents financially. His siblings are fine. My mom is fine.
I am glad that you can't inherit debt. That would really suck if you could.