General Question

jjosephs's avatar

Do children owe their parents?

Asked by jjosephs (115points) June 17th, 2009

After 18 years of nuturing and supporting their child, does the said child owe the parent anything (e.g. the child must take care of the mother/father for 18 years)

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57 Answers

whitenoise's avatar

Yes, they do.
They owe them respect as they owe all people. They also owe them to continue putting effort into making the best of their lives and not waist their parents’ investments.

There is however no obligation to care etc.. from child to parent. When your child has grown up, then as a parent you may still have a function as a grandparent, but when it comes to obligations, I feel it is a one way street. (Don’t tell my twins, yet.)

I think that children may have obligations to their parents, but those have to be earned by these parents. They do not stem from merely being biological parents.

I teach my children that helping other people is an obligation in general and in particular for the ones you care about. We’re social animals, after all, aren’t we?

MrGV's avatar

Respect and some cash here and there haha

whitenoise's avatar

Well yes, and I would also like my garden done.

Blondesjon's avatar

My children owe me as many years on the end of my life as I have given them at the beginning of theirs.

If they live with me until they are eighteen, they owe me eighteen years at the end of mine, if the need ever arises. I didn’t let them rot away in a nursing home and I only expect the same.

ubersiren's avatar

The way I feel about it is that if you feel like you owe your parents something, you probably do. If you don’t feel they deserve it, they probably don’t.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

They don’t owe them anything. But if brought up in a loving, stable and supportive environment some reciprocity would be nice and most children have no problem giving it, because they want to. Those who are loved tend to love right back.

ragingloli's avatar

I don’t think they do, apart from respect.
The children had no choice regarding existence.
The parents decided to create children and to raise them, the children had to accept that no matter what.
Also, they would actually be even.
– Existence was forced upon the children by their parents.
– The children had to submit to the will of the parents, do what they say, do their bidding, being obedient.
+ In exchange, the parents offered protection and nurture.

Jude's avatar

Personally, I plan on being there for my Dad (my Mom has passed). I couldn’t live with myself knowing that my Dad was in need, even though he is acting like a total ass right now. If he’s struggling financially, the kids will help him out (that’s how our Mom brought us up), but, I’m hoping that he’d be careful with his money because he’s a big boy and we really shouldn’t have to take care of him.

Now, if my Mom was still living and it was just her, I’d do anything for her.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think the word “owe” would be a part of any loving family. We take care of each other out of love.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . .The children had no choice regarding existence.

A ridiculous argument. Do you feel strongly enough to give your existence back?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Blondesjon I understand where you’re coming from, but children don’t own their parents anything. A parent owes a child because the parent chose to take on the responsibility of having children. My dad provided for me throughout my entire life, but I highly doubt (for multiple reasons) I will be willing to do the same for him as he ages.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I absolutely think they do owe their parents. In fact many cultures this is just common knowledge. Only in a few would we think to ask such a thing.

ragingloli's avatar

I do not see how it is “ridiculous”.
To owe something to someone or to be owed something by someone requires a concious choice to accept the object and the option to reject it by the parties that receives the initial object.
A child did not make the choice to be brought into existence, it had no opportunity to say “No , I do not want to exist, leave me here in Oblivion.” Even several years into their existence, they lack the capacity to end their existence and additionally are legally prohibited to do so.
Existence and the continuation thereof is forced upon them. Indeed, it can be said that the parents owe the children nurture for the existence they forced upon them.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was trying to think of a way to say what @RedPowerLady just said so succinctly.

It amazes me that the question is even asked. It was never anything I thought about, it is just the way life is and I and my brother accepted the responsibility until our parents died. My brother and I are not particularly close but we worked well together in that respect.

Blondesjon's avatar

I am simply tired of hearing that, “I didn’t ask to exist.”

If you can’t be grateful for the fact that you do, indeed exist, than give it back.

You don’t have to owe anyone anything, except a thank you for the fact that you are living and breathing and saying “I didn’t ask to exist.”

whitenoise's avatar

@rooeytoo and @RedPowerLady and others are of the opinion that children should be willing to take care of their parents and maybe even should feel the obligation to do so.

I fully agree… I feel the same way towards my parents.

But there is a huge difference with owing my parents. I want to be there for them and I will, but that is not out of a debt that my parents may claim. It is out of my choice and based on the love and respect they have earned in my life and throughout my life.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Blondesjon I’m very glad I exist. My parents created me, yes. However, it’s not just life that matters, it is quality of life. Despite the fact that my dad provided for me, that’s about all he did. He was a bad parent and a bad person in general. I owe him nothing, not even a “thank you”.

ragingloli's avatar

My argument was not about gratitude, it was about owing something to your parents, like owing money to the bank after they gave you a loan (that you consciously accepted under the option of not accepting it).

aprilsimnel's avatar

I have no respect or love for my maternal biological family for reasons that are well known to them. I do not know my father or his family at all, as he “took advantage” of my BM and took off when he was finished, so doesn’t know that he has a daughter.

I believe I owe them nothing. I suppose I could be the one who does good to those who hurt me and turn the other cheek and whatnot, but I am not capable of having that big of a heart right now.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have a sneaking suspicion that some disgruntled offspring is feeling very greedy. Let me say that during the years I was part of the Foster Care program, I met some parents that were truly criminal parents, by the legal definition. Their children owe them nothing.

But for a child who has been amply provided for his entire life to selfishly decide their parent was somehow just a providing machine, sort of like a piece of furniture, to be discarded at the first opportunity, just doesn’t sound right.

rooeytoo's avatar

@whitenoise – to me that is simply semantics. Whether it is done out of a feeling of obligation or debt (and I am sure that was true in many cases) or out of love and respect, I don’t think that matters. The end result is the same, you care for your own. That is what I believe.

I was never abused, I am sure that would make a difference in my thinking, but no one has a perfect childhood so it would have to be serious abuse to change the picture for me.

Tink's avatar

Nope they concieved you, they dont owe you nothing

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I guess I can’t really say if children owe anything to bad parents. I haven’t been in that situation.

My parents were great, and sacrificed a lot to help me get to where I am. I feel like I owe them everything.

Blondesjon's avatar

@DrasticDreamer . . .I agree. My dad was an enormous tool as well.

@ragingloli . . .If you would not give your existence up right now then you have no right to use the line, “The children had no choice regarding existence.”

If you argue pro-life or anti-death penalty and then finish up with “The children had no choice regarding existence.”, you are a hypocrite.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I think the defining issue here is not “do we owe our parents” but rather “whom do we consider a parent?” I do believe we owe those we consider parents.

(is that the right use of whom?)

SuperMouse's avatar

I’m not sure how to answer this question. As a mom I don’t really think my children owe me anything as I age and they grow into being their own men. However, I do like to think that I am instilling enough of a sense of family and responsibility in them that they will be willing to help out in my waning years.

As my father’s daughter I am not convinced I owe him anything either, but I do think that if it came down to it I would step in and help him out in his waning years (which is why I am very pleased that he married a woman several years younger than him – odds are better I won’t have to.) My dad wasn’t going to win any father of the year contests, but I would still feel responsible to help him out if he needed it and I could do it.

I do think @Blondesjon makes a valid point. Parents – at least those who want to raise their kids to be happy, healthy, well adjusted citizens of the world – put pretty much everything they have into raising them for a good 18 years. That should mean something to the children, and if the parents did their job correctly it will.

tinyfaery's avatar

No. Parents owe their children. No one was asked to be born, but parents make the choice to have and/or raise a child. Hopefully parents do right by their children, and their children should want to reciprocate. What if a parent is/was horrible, like my father, what do I owe him? Fuckin’ nuthin’.

whitenoise's avatar

@rooeytoo… For many people, this whole discussion is about semantics. It spins around the meaning of owing. In my mind to owe means you have a debt with someone that someone can claim, even against your will.

The discussion from my point of view therefore is: can you claim care from your children in return for having cared for them. The answer is no!

No parent can claim merely based on being a parent. (hence children don’t owe).

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@RedPowerLady Put very nicely – that, I can agree with.

@tinyfaery That’s exactly how I feel.

jrpowell's avatar

When I was ten my mom left my sister and me in Mexico with a stranger while she went back to the United States to turn herself in for killing my abusive father.

I guess I should be at least willing to leave her in Mexico when she needs help. Return the favor.

Skippy's avatar

My sons owe me respect. Other than that, they can give me love and admiration, and some of the millions they both claim they will make one day.

I owe my parents a debt of gratitude for making me, raising me and forming me into the great wife, mother and person I have become.
We do GIVE one another lot’s of love, and that’s from the goodness of our hearts.

Aethelwine's avatar

My parents still help me when they can and I’m 38. If they need help I’m right there for them. That’s what loving families do.

Facade's avatar

I don’t think so, no.

ragingloli's avatar

As @whitenoise said, it is about what I understand as owing.
My understanding of owing matches that of whitenoise, namely to have a debt with someone that can someone can claim, even against your will, that is also dependent on the conscious acceptance by the receipient with the option of rejection.
And under this definition, my clear stance is no, children do not owe their parents.
If someone deposits a milliard Euro on your bank account and tells you that if you reject it, he will kill you (a situation where you can not reasonably reject), would you owe this person something in the above sense?

Owing as in “having a sense of obligation or gratitude towards your parents” (which is entirely subjective) is a completely different matter.
If you want to care for your parents to reciprocate for their care for you, because you love them, etc., then that is fine. I would encourage this behaviour, because it benefits society. But it is optional, not mandatory.

Next thing, abortion.
I am being pro choice despite my view that parents owe their children for forcing existence on them.
In fact, I am not exactly a fan of “convenience abortions”, nor am I supportive of late term abortions without medical reasons.
I am of the opinion that abortion should only become an option in cases of potential mental or physical damage to the mother or severe deformations/disabilities of the future child.
I am pro choice in the sense that I acknowledge the right of the mother to choose an abortion in these cases.
I do not want take a stance on abortions outside of these reasons since it is in a very grey grey zone (when is a fetus considered human, when is an abortion appropriate, the right of the mother to govern her own body, etc.).

Next point, death penalty.
I think you are skewing the argument.
I is not about a criminal deserving the death penalty, but about a criminal deserving punishment. The death penalty is a point on the scale of severety of punishment and thus subject to a certain kind of arbitrariness.
Make no mistake. I am in favour of criminals receiving punishment, they made a conscious choice to do something illegal and thus accepted the possible repercussions while having the option of rejection by not committingthe crime.

The reason I oppose the death penalty is that the judicial process is inherently imperfect. It can not prove to 100% that the convict is in fact guilty.
The death penalty means that almost invariably, innocent people will be executed.
The other reason is that the death penalty invariably means that some people are being given the power to decide over life and death of a person in a situation that is not in a grey zone of the above mentioned abortion scenario (a convict is definitely considered a human, and can never be dangerous enough to exclude permanent imprisonment/rehabilitation from the list of options.)

casheroo's avatar

Like others have said, you owe them respect. (of course if you had a crappy parent, abusive..this doesn’t apply to you. your parent did not do their job)
I feel that I owe my parents more than respect. I intend to give back to them when I can, and take care of them when they need it.

seekingwolf's avatar

I was raised to believe that I didn’t owe my parents after they raised me.

Well…Of course, parents should get respect and all that, but I don’t think that I am obligated to “pay them back” somehow.

My dad always told me “We gave you life to have a life. Not to take care of us.” My parents have raised me well and I have my college/grad school paid for because they feel that they are obligated to pay for all my education. Neither of them wants me to take care of them/give money to them when they are older. I don’t plan to.

I’ve seen some families ruined because the parents got older and demanded care/money. The adult child suffered financially and emotionally for years. I don’t want that for myself and my parents don’t want that for me.

I’ll always love them and be there for them in the future, but I am not going to support them to a huge extent or “take them in” or pay for the nursing home. They don’t want me to anyway. They are smart and have saved up tons for the future so they wouldn’t have to rely on us kids.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . .That’s right. You get it.

ragingloli's avatar

whatever you say, danna sama.

sweetzer's avatar

If you’re Asian, yes! Absolutely! And this whole idea of “18 years” is crazy. Like it ends there. They’re your parents forever. And like it or not, you’re their kid forever. And yeah, you owe them.

Blondesjon's avatar

@sweetzer . . .welcome to Fluther.

sweetzer's avatar

thanks! it’s about time, right?

Aethelwine's avatar

@sweetzer You wipe their ass, they wipe yours. What a deal!

Welcome. :)

sweetzer's avatar

@jonsblond thanks to you too! actually i was thinking more like, they wipe your ass, you make sure to hold their hand as they go through brain surgery for a subdural hematoma. or you go through medicare papers with them. or you fill their rx’s. or you have a weekly lunch date with them, and make sure they’re not bored during their retirement. i’ll stop now.

tinyfaery's avatar

As to @Blondesjon‘s ridicule of everyone who says that they did not ask to be born I say this: I would have gladly given my life back, many times, hundreds of times when I was young. I paid for my life, exponentially, in suffering and grief; a multitude of lifetimes worth of pain and despair. There are times now when I would give it back. All of life is suffering. (No I am not a Buddhist, just observant.) To bring a child into the world is to bring suffering into the world, into the entire universe of a being.

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaery . . .I would never belittle your shitty childhood anymore than I would ever allow someone to belittle mine.

I am only saying that you are here and, even if it is an angry, petulant, fuck you nod, that you give to your parents, they get that as a reminder they made somebody who hates them.

When my father dies, my gay brother Marc (whom dad disowned just for that) is going to fly here from Kent, WA and we are both going to get drunk and piss on his grave. You can all judge me as you will but you didn’t live with the fuck.


Marc doesn’t even drink.

tinyfaery's avatar

Just for the record, I am the dutiful daughter. My sister is a total mess. I go see my mother and father every few months, and I do what I can to get through the time I am near my father (it is very stressful) just so I can spend a bit of time with my mom. But I DO NOT OWE THEM ANYTHING! I would feel worse if I were to pretend they didn’t exist. Ahh parents…they really know how to fuck you up.

dannyc's avatar

Well, of course they owe them their very existence. It is the ultimate gift. When someone gives you such a gift, you owe them respect, though not without strings. If a parent abuses the respect that is due to them, then the debt becomes absolved and must be re-earned. Helping your kids is important, though the best help you can give them is making them understand their responsibilities and that the world, nor their parents, owe them a living. Earning, learning and moving forward, they owe themselves the effort to treat their parents well.

alive's avatar

i don’t think it is a question of “owing” but more like having love and respect for family members.

if they are in need i would help them, just like i know they would help me if i was in need.

i’m sure there will be someone who will jump at this side comment, but, this is a big difference between ”[white] american” culture and other cultures who don’t see family as an “obligation”

mammal's avatar

according to Buddhist thinking
a child can never repay the debt
they owe their parents

nebule's avatar

I don’t expect anything from my son – everything I do get is magical, so no he doesn’t owe me anything… I chose to bring him into this world.

Nevertheless…I feel like I owe my own parents…

amoreno06's avatar

if my child ever tells me “i never asked to be born”
i’ll simply respond “i never asked for such an ungrateful child”
yus keedin
cuz seriously, my child won’t be selfish/spoiled/ungrateful.
my momma will have raised them and they’ll know how to behave haha.

wundayatta's avatar

I owe my parents a lot. In particular, care when they can no longer care for themselves.

My kids don’t owe me anything.

jennica's avatar

I think its absolutely disgusting that children could grow up to think they owe their parents nothing, What an ungrateful bunch of A**holes.

Ofcourse you owe your parents, for just existing you owe your parents. Children are not (in most cases whether you choose to beleive it) a choice. You may not of asked to be born, but in most cases some parents may not have asked to bore you in the first place. You ust happened.

Regardless, if your parent has invested in your care, wellbeing and nuture you owe them to be a decent and successful human being. No woman wants to give up her life to be a stay at home mum to raise you, or go through the trauma of pregnancy and birth to give you life for you to turn her investment into becoming a deadbeat, low life or felon.
You owe it to them to make their sacrifices worth their while.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@jennica Abused children owe their parents nothing. It is not a black and white issue.

kostaweb's avatar

To All.

Since I chose to be born and become someone’s slave. I suppose I do.

Don’t I.?

wake up people. I don’t owe anyone anything. I will only give what I can. Regular Spankings when they grow old and start behaving like little kids again…..
After all, you can’t give anything you don’t have.

Of course I am kidding.

I don’t hate them that much….But I don’t owe something I never prayed to get. Do I?

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