SINGAPORE: A stressed-out, 34-year-old daughter recently took to social media to share that her 67-year-old mom kept asking her for money because “she paid for her college abroad.”

She reveals that both her parents have very decent retirement salaries, have one more property, and have a decent life. However, since she began working, her mom keeps asking her for money.

“She would say that she had to take a credit from the bank to pay for my studies (which is true and it was paid off) so I needed to be grateful and give her money when she asks for it. Mind you, I’m not rich but I still sent her money multiple times,” she shared.

She also gave her about $5,000 once, and while she understands that this is nothing in comparison to what she paid for her, she also had her “own expenses to pay and life was so expensive right now.

When she does refuse to give her money, she says that her mother always “acts out,” implies that she is ungrateful and would stop talking to her.

The daughter also stated that she would go above and beyond in order to help her mom if she were poor, but she clarifies that this is not the case and that her mom even travels on an annual basis.

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“I don’t have a dime to my name and I want to start putting money aside for the future. Today she asked me to send her a monthly amount and when I said she should wait until I pay my credit card, she responded “I’m not gonna wait an eternity! Don’t send me anything!” 

At the end, she confesses that she’s tired of the whole thing and that she doesn’t know how to act in a way that will let her take care of herself and her mental health without making her mother upset.

Social media users: ‘This is quite normal for Asian moms.’

Several social media users encouraged her to set boundaries with her mother and stop giving her money after reading about her predicament, while others said that this was common for kids with Asian mothers.

“Quite normal for Asian moms. When I first started work, I only made 18,000 per annum while she made 200,000 per annum. But every month, she wanted 30% of my salary, because in chinese culture, it’s part of the filial piety culture to give your parents a portion of your salary for the moment you start work,” one commented.

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Another confirmed this, stating that she had Chinese coworkers who, even though their parents were wealthier than them, continued to send their parents money each month after they started their first full-time job.

“I had Chinese coworkers who sent their parents monthly payments after they got their first full time job even if the parents had more money than them. It was accepted societal/cultural norm for them. In return, non working grandparents provided free childcare for the grandchildren.”

Meanwhile, one social media user urged her to set a boundary, writing, “If the affection your mother provides is dependant on anything other than being her child…she is doing relationships wrong.  Set the boundary. She CHOSE to have you and pay for your schooling, you are no indebted to her for that.”

The Asian culture of “giving back” to parents

Giving parents “monthly allowances” may seem strange to western countries. But, in Asia, this practice has become deeply ingrained in the culture. In a way, money has become a symbol of the kids’ gratitude towards their parents. 

This practice is one of the most important virtues in the Chinese culture of ‘filial piety’, which is often used to describe respect for parents. It is a widely accepted arrangement, especially since Asian parents are prepared to cover all of their children’s educational costs and other expenses, even if the children are older than 18. Some parents even choose to give their kids financial support well into their twenties or even thirties, or until they’ve found a stable job. 

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But while some adult children see this as their duty, others harbor resentment, particularly if they are forced to give these monthly allowances.

One other factor that comes into play in this scenario is the cost of living crisis. Nowadays, it has become increasingly difficult for young working adults to make ends meet and pay their bills on time as living expenses have increased more quickly than their monthly incomes. So, for them, providing their parents with a monthly stipend at a time when they are struggling financially feels more like punishment than an act of love.

Many suggest that to reduce the burden on their children and prevent them from holding grudges, this shouldn’t come as a demand, and it should be up to the child whether he or she pays support for his or her parents.