Today's guest post is contributed by Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, author of Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2008), and Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2012). A resident scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center, Dr. Nemzoff also speaks and blogs about intergenerational relationships.
Q. My son is engaged to a nurse from a wealthy family that gives her whatever she wants. I think it’s overindulgent, and fear that she will expect my son to support her in the same manner.
A. Just because parents give their children financial assistance into adulthood does not mean that they are necessarily spoiling them. Each family deals with money in its own way. Some parents believe they “spoil” the kids if they give them everything. Others, particularly families with disposable income, feel it is their joy and duty to share whatever they have to make their children’s lives easier.
The danger of giving too much money to children is that they will lack ambition. The girl in question is a nurse, which is hardly the profession of a spoiled brat. It seems that whatever her parents did with money, it did not squash her drive to achieve. She trained for a profession that is demanding and requires nurturing skills.
While to you she may seem entitled, she and her family may view it differently. Many parents these days subsidize rents and give money to their children while they are getting established in their careers. There are many motivations for financially helping one’s children.
You may fear that you will lose your son if he becomes enveloped in a family that can provide so much. Focus on the wonderful things you have to give the couple. While her parents may provide financial assistance, you can provide love, for example. Don’t assume that her parents are trying to manipulate your son. They may just be sharing their good fortune.
You may fear that your son’s fiancée will force him into debt, since she is used to a higher standard of living. Every couple must confront differences in lifestyles.
Monetary differences in lifestyle are no different than cultural divergences. Just because her family deals with money differently from yours does not imply that they are wrong and you are right. Harping on the dangers of having too much money will only alienate you from your son.
Instead of worrying and judging, try to enjoy this happy time in your son’s life. Your son is a grown man, and he must make decisions in his life.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish Journal MA and is reprinted with permission.
Gina Stepp interviews Brandeis University resident scholar Ruth Nemzoff about her latest book, Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family.
Ruth Nemzoff is a resident scholar at Brandeis University. Vision interviewed her about her recent book covering parent and adult-child communication.