When should parents stop giving?

A young couple gets married. They get a certain amount of money for wedding gifts, and some decent items with which to start off married life. Whose responsibility is it to pay the rent and their bills? Who should buy them their furniture and everything else they need?

In our community many of the young couples starting out are very young, and not in a financial position to support themselves at the start of their marriages. Now, in my mind, if you cannot support yourselves, don’t get married until you can, but that isn’t the way it seems to work. Parents and in-laws seem to bear the burden of supporting married children, sometimes more than 2 at a time, until such a time as the married couples can support themselves.

When I married my first husband, we had NOTHING! Neither side was wealthy and we didn’t expect anything from anyone. He was starting out in his career, I went to work, and we managed. My grandparents gave us a new washer and dryer, which was really an awesome gift but that was it. It took us a couple of years until we bought a dining room table – until then a folding table and chairs had to suffice. It took a few more years till we bought new sofas, and then a bedroom set. We bought everything ourselves. There were many times that making the rent was tough, but it didn’t occur to us to go to our parents for a hand-out.

It seems that these days, within the religious orthodox community, kids expect their parents to give them everything at the start of their marriages and to continue to help until they can financially stand on their own two feet. I don’t know how these parents are able to do that, especially after footing the bill for the typical lavish wedding. Why does a young newly married couple even need a fully furnished apartment from day one?

So here are my questions to you. When you got married what did your parents or in-laws give you? What did you expect? If they supported you, for how long did they do so, and did you feel uncomfortable accepting their help? Or did you feel it was your right? When your kids get married, what will you give them? Will you allow them to get married knowing you will have to support them, or make them wait till they can earn a decent living? What are your thoughts about the whole situation?

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30 responses to “When should parents stop giving?

  1. My parents were out of the picture and didn’t even attend the wedding. My in laws gave us gifts but didn’t pay for the wedding or support us. Will I *allow* my kids to get married knowing I will have to support them— great question— it won’t be my decision at all– if they’re over 18, they can decide to get married– doesn’t mean I need to support them! The whole question for us is probably moot— because we’re now 35 and still in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, we’ll probably never own a home or have any savings, so we won’t be ABLE to support our children even if we want to (which we don’t— they should support themselves). If my kids get all whiny and EXPECT to be supported?!?! well, I can get whiny right back. 🙂

  2. I was 28 when I got married and my husband was 30. He was new in the country and not yet financially- or career established, but I had a good amount of money saved (blew a lot of it on the wedding) and was making a decent salary. My parents had/have very little and we expected nothing from them (or from his parents). We managed to save to buy a house and although thing are always rough financially, I certainly have a nice life.

    I hope I am in the financial position to help my kids with some “extras” when they get married. I definitely could not and don’t think I should have to support them–pay their rent, buy them a house etc, but I hope I am in the position to help them with, say a small contribution toward a down payment on a house or something like that.

    May I also say that I am in my 40’s and I have peers who are still being “helped” by their parents?

    • May I also say that I am in my 40’s and I have peers who are still being “helped” by their parents?

      to what extent? This totally surprises me – I would think that a couple should be totally self sufficient by their 40s.

      • I know of some couples in their 30’s and 40’s that are still helped by their families. I do not know the extent as that is usually kept private, but I do know it to be a fact.

      • My grandparents give my parents a check once in a while for a few hundred dollars, or thousand, I haven’t looked at the amount, but when my family went to Israel for my brothers bar mitzvah this past Chanukah, my grandparents gave my parents 1,000 dollars spending money, but then most of it was used on Taxi’s because my grandparents couldn’t take busses.

  3. I hate to say it, but parents who hustle their children off to get married before age 21 and have any marketable skills, are just begging to be relied upon for years to come.

    • “I hate to say it, but parents who hustle their children off to get married before age 21 and have any marketable skills, are just begging to be relied upon for years to come.”

      most of the time i find it very silly when parents complain about how their kids rely on them. and for that matter, while i don’t know any of the readers here, i find it silly when parents of younger children declare they won’t support their kids when the get older. what are these parents doing to ensure their kids won’t need support except blow hot air?

      most importantly send your kids to schools that encourage responsible behavior so when they graduate at 18 they realize they have other options. don’t ship them off to schools in israel that limit their options. live among neighbors and socialize among those who encourage responsible behavior so that your kids have peers who realize their are other options. etc.

      in many (most?) cases the complaining parents are getting exactly what they deserve.

      • my boys all know that they must have a career or a trade in hand before they even think of getting married. I have hammered that into their heads since they were infants.

        Even if I were to be in a position to provide everything for every child it is wrong for them to not learn how to fend for themselves and be responsible for their own families.

        • “I have hammered that into their heads since they were infants. ”

          good luck.
          that’s what a lot of the complaining parents say. fast forward 20 years and they’re saying, “oh, we can’t understand how this happened.”

          it doesn’t matter how many times their kids heard it in the home. unfortunately what very often matters is what was taught (whether implicitly or otherwise) in school (and in israel), what they see their neighbors and friends doing, etc.

          i don’t expect you to share any details, but if your kids go to a typical yeshivah, go to a typical school in israel and have typical frum peers all along, you hammering it in with a sledgehammer may very well not work.

          • My school didn’t encourage college, if anything it discouraged it, and I ended up tricking my school into believing that I was only going to seminary and not college.

            The college is great, but now I gotta find a job, and it seems impossible! it’s hard to get a first job with no experience, in my field.

  4. When you got married what did your parents or in-laws give you?

    When I married my ex I was 19 and I remember receiving many gifts and gifts of cash at our wedding. I don’t recall the exact gift my parents gave us, but neither my parents nor my in-laws supported us!

    My ex was an enlisted man in the USCG and our combined income was well under 13k/year. I worked as a cashier at a supermarket.

    I brought to our marriage a used sofa (slipcovered), two new recliner chairs, new end tables and lamps. I brought a used kitchen table – no chairs. I also brought my childhood bedroom set which was used when my parents bought it for me when I was 9 years old. It contained a dressing table, dresser, and double bed.

    For many years we made do with secondhand furniture and used laundromats to clean our clothing.

    I would expect that my children will know that marriage brings with it responsibilities and that it’s not something to be entered into until you can live independently. How could my son support a wife and children if we’re footing the bill? How could he be head of his household if his mama is paying his rent?

  5. When I got married, we were on our own. No financial support at all. But things are different now, whether I agree with it or not.
    I have a daughter in shidduchim, and this is constantly an issue. I am putting her through school so that she will not need my support, but that’s all I can do financially. But that’s not enough for most people. Either we commit to a certain amount of support per month, or no deal.

    • MysteryWoman – even before the couple go out the shadchan is asking specifics of how much you can afford to give the couple per month?? that’s a basis for going ahead with a shidduch??!!

      • Definitely! Especially in the Yeshivish world where boys seem to automatically stay in learning for years even post marriage/family. My sister had no trouble marrying off her boys, but for her daughter, she had to promise a monthly stipend for 5 years!! This is money she did not have, but she actually got a job to pay it.
        I have learned to keep my opinions on that issue to myself!

        • I should mention that all her boys are still learning and are being supported by their in-laws…some more lavishly than others depending on the ability to pay…

      • Absolutely. Before even considering one date.
        And vague promises of help…if the couple needs it…is not enough. There needs to be a commitment of a specific amount per month. The absolute minimum would be the amount of the couple’s rent.

  6. We also got married pretty young (I was a year out of college and he was two so just getting on our feet). In the Russian community, it’s expected to support your kids and help them constantly through everything, so we have a bunch of friends that also got married early and are receiving lots of financial help beyond the wedding from parents. We begged to pay for our own wedding and only paid for half and are completely independent from our parents (buying a house on our own, etc.) and are extremely proud of the fact that we wouldn’t have to come to them for anything.

  7. Wow- first let me say that I believe it is the honest wish for most parents to have the option of helping their children. Some would argue – what else have they worked so hard for? You can’t take it with you when you go, and why not see the money being used while you are still here to enjoy it?
    On the other hand, “Obligatory support” stiffles a child’s development and causes immaturity. A child should acknowledge that they are responsible for their own and their new family’s well being. If you are old enough to be married and have a child you are old enough to clothe, feed and house them on your own.
    Everyperson is born with G-d given talent and intelligence. It is up to us to each develop to our full potential and earn a living.
    If parents WANT to help with extras that is very different from living off of them.

  8. By me my parents are paying a lot! I’m having a big wedding which I appreciate (but I didn’t ask for it) I don’t think my father realized at the time he booked the hall how many other things there are to buy too. SN is going to be supporting us, paying the rent, and bills. I have a college degree, and am looking for a job, so until I start working I’m going to feel guilty about spending SN’s money, so it’s easier for me to ask my parents to buy stuff, it makes me feel better. My parents, and SN’s parents each paid half of the bedroom set, and that’s the only furniture we got so far. We are going to get a dinette set, which my parents are going to pay for. And my parents bought most of the stuff to set up the apartment, then things that we need after, once we are married, then SN is going to pay for them. The 2 things left I want to buy for my apartment, with my parents paying is a crockpot and a microwave, since our wedding is 6 weeks before Pesach, it doesn’t pay to start cooking chametz, so I figure a crockpot and microwave will make it easier. But once we’re married, then I don’t expect my parents to pay for much, or support us. That’s why I went to college, and marrying a working guy.

  9. My parents paid for nothing for my wedding besides for transportation for relatives to come to the wedding from New York. My grandmother gave me $300 towards my wedding dress. My husband’s parents paid for my husbands clothes, the caterer and the flowers. They also were kind enough to pay for our hotel room on our wedding night. My husband and I paid for the hall, the photographer, and the band. My husband paid for my rings. I paid $600 for my dress. My mother did use a lot of resources to get me and my husband many items from gemachs including clothing, head coverings, beds, linens, and kitchen items. My in-laws gave us $10,000 down payment for a house. We got monetary gifts and lots of presents from relatives. We bought most of our furniture used or new but all with our own money.

    After our wedding we have not gotten any money from our parents but we have gotten presents for our daughter.

    Does this seem like a lot of help or a little help?

  10. I know people making 150-200K a year that are getting help from parents.

    Let’s take a quick rundown for a couple making 200K with 4 kids in school:

    Gross: 16,667/ month
    Taxes: 5,500 (fed, state, SE, FICA, Med)
    Prop Taxes: 1,200
    Cars + Insu: 1,100 (not luxury)
    Tution: 3,500 (easily add 1K for 2 in high school)
    Medical Insurance: 1,300

    Uh Oh that leaves about $1567/month for Maaser/Tzedakah, food, clothing, gas, utilities, phones, home repairs, yadi yadi yadi.

    Then one needs to save money for Bias Medrash, Seminary at 24K/yr (and/or college), weddings, etc.

    Savings? What savings? This is where parents chip in.

    Let’s get real, Orthodox Judaism is a religion for the rich as Mr. President prefers to call them.

    And no school will give you a break on tuition with a 200K salary.

  11. I was 20, my husband 21 when we got married. Our parents paid for the wedding. I was still in college, but my husband was working. The only new furniture we got was bedroom furniture, and, IIRC, that was a wedding present from his parents. Thank God, we haven’t needed help from parents. Even so, his parents offer all the time. They don’t let us pay for anything when they are around, including things like airfare. This is because they can afford it, and they want to spend their money on their family. My parents would be the same way if they could afford it.

  12. We were 22 and 25 when we got married, and I had just started a job three weeks before. DH started a job about three weeks after.

    We are currently almost 100% supporting ourselves, except for the car insurance all the time and the gas when we come to visit (3 hours + of driving) my parents. They do well enough and I am their only child.

    When we got married, we had no money, only the potential of money. My parents paid for the caterer, my dress & accessories, hair, makeup & a small gift for the bridesmaids, and the hotel room I stayed in. His parents paid for the videographer, drinks, the hall, the rabbi and some other things that I’m not thinking of. We paid the photographer, as our contribution. We also didn’t go on a honeymoon until this past summer (our 2nd anniversary) so we could pay for it ourselves.

    We have no debt from college, since we both went to a state school, but now, three years into our marriage we’re facing grad school and wondering how that will work financially. My parents have hinted at helping, but we don’t expect anything concrete, unless our situation turns dire with financial aid and we need help badly. We would both be going to professional schools, so hopefully we would be able to support ourselves again totally once we are out of school again.

  13. I thought with many orthodox couples, the husband just studies and the wife either works or has children and, if the parents can, they support, if not help their children. We do a great deal for our daughter and husband, and we do it willingly. 99 times out of 100, when we go out to eat, we pick up the tab. Oftentimes, they do but we do not expect it and I do not think they do either. I ask myself so often now, are we doing so much because she is our only child after our son died? My friends tell me no, that this is the kind of parents we are but, I am not so sure. I think that we would have had to split what we give her to our son, if he was alive. I could be very sensative right now because Jason’s yahzeit is coming up a week from Sat. and now all I think about is what did he do a week before he died, where was he all the time, did he die instantly ( the coroner said yes, 90% blockage) or was there pain, did he call out. I could type much more of my feelings and thoughts but I will not. I do wonder if there are other parents on here and how are they handling the anniversary of their child’s death. Parents should never bury children, but as you said to that person who thinks the world will be perfect for her, it is not. We never know what the next minute will bring.

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