I've read two articles over the past couple weeks that show the full circle of the problem of Parasite "Kids".
This is the term that we've coined for adult offspring that cannot, or will not, take care of themselves, but have not boomeranged back to the nest. Instead they have mom and dad paying their rent, bills and even furnishing spending money for their recreation and vacations.
The two stories are polar opposites, but each reveal just how screwed up family relationships can become when adult offspring are involved. The first article really got my blood boiling.
Entitled "Children ripping off their parents at an alarming rate" (By Shelley Hadfield for news.com.au), the article tells of parasitic little brats in Australia taking their sponging to a new depths. They are actually stealing money from their aging parents.
"Powers of attorney are used as a 'license to steal,' elderly parents are pressured into signing over their homes, or money is simply withdrawn from their accounts."
We are truly reaching new lows when family members can't be trusted to have our best interests at heart in our final years. Should we have to consider hiring strangers to make our financial and medical decisions late in life just to keep parasitic progeny at bay?
"The problem has become so rampant that one senior citizen advocacy group now says that 39% of the cases it is working on involve financial abuse. But those numbers may very well be on the low side. 'I believe the real numbers are ... unreported,' State Trustees manager Steve Cowell said. 'It's actually really common, but it does not get reported. The poor parents are so embarrassed about it.'"
The article points out that, "Most cases are perpetrated by close family members. As a result it is a very silent crime, and one kept very much in the confines of the family."
Adding to the problem is an attitude from police and authorities that these are family matters and should be dealt with outside the legal system.
"It's amazing what people do. They think mum and dad are old anyway, they don't need the money, there's $150,000 sitting in the account."
"In many cases, the children feel they are entitled to the money because they will inherit it one day."
There's the key word, "entitled." I don't think this is something that just appears one day. These "heirs" have been taught this behavior over the years by never being denied. Now they think that they are more "entitled" to their parents' money than their folks that worked and saved all of their lives.
As we have said many times before, parents who provide the easy way out - time and time again - are not doing their children any favors. This is the end result of that sort of coddling. Still, I hesitate to put too much blame on the parents.
Certainly these "kids" should be finding ways to make sure mom and dad are secure in their golden years. Nothing is stopping them from being decent and helping to make things better. But since they have never considered anyone but themselves for their entire adult lives, they don't.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the flip side of this issue.
"B.C. woman sues adult kids for parental support: Should she get it?" (By Zosia Bielski for The Globe and Mail)
In this story a 73-year-old Canadian woman is using an obscure law, from back in The Depression era, to sue her adult children for support payments. At first glance I was inclined to think, sure, why shouldn't her kids help take care of their aging mother? She shouldn't have to sue them!
But this story has a twist. Perhaps this is not a case of worthless, ungrateful offspring ignoring a parent, but a mother that is envious of her children's success.
"Shirley Anderson, who recieves $1,500 a month from the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, now wants $750 from each of her four kids. 'Ms. Anderson has complained that her family takes trips to Hawaii as she lives in poverty. She first sued her children 12 years ago and was then awarded $10 a month from each child.'"
Still, I thought maybe these kids should be helping out their mother. Couldn't they come to some sort of agreement without a lawsuit? Then one of the children provided this answer,
"'I just do not believe you should have to pay when you're left behind at 15 years old. It's not right,' her son Ken, 47, told reporters. 'We're getting older and we've got to retire soon. We've got two kids that we've got to put through post-secondary school, and having to pay her just takes it away from my kids. It's just not right,' he said.
That's right, this woman dumped her own family when they were just kids, and now she thinks that she deserves $36,000 a year from them. They have growing children of their own, headed to college, but grandma doesn't care, she wants to leave them in the lurch too.
Maybe we'll have to come up with a new term: Parasite "Parents".
Your turn: What do YOU think about these issues? Is there a special place in hell for offspring who steal from their elderly parents? Should offspring be required to take care of elderly parents no matter the circumstances?
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