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November 07, 2008


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I'm not sure if my family is different, but we've always planned on the kids being the retirement for the parents. On that same note, my parents aren't planning for retirement but are planning for leaving an inheritance. We're playing both sides of it, I suppose. :)

I don't think it's a great insurance plan, what if you and your kids don't get along. I know quite a few people who are estranged from their parents, sadly my other half is one of them. I know in some cultures it's considered a duty for kids to take care of the parents in old age, a cultural social security plan. I'm curious what someone from that background, but raised in america, thinks of it. I'd take in my parents, if they need it, but I sure hope they dont! We get along best at a distance, I can't see us living together again.

I am a 43 year old woman who chose many years ago not to have kids. The older I get, the more I think about who will take care of me as I I am being extra nice to my niece (age 5) and nephew (age 8) and hope for the best!

Kids can be a form of insurance but if you don't raise them properly, the "premiums" you pay for that insurance are excessive.

Kids aren't really a form of insurance, not a reliable source anyway. We do raise our sons to know they will be responsible for caring for their elderly relatives, but the level and quality of that care will depend very much on their own circumstances and on their personal feelings for those elderly relatives. Our sons are the only descendants of ourselves and 6 unmarried and childless Aunts and Uncles. I have a feeling that the ones who are extra nice, like Amy, will be better taken care of when old. Also, remember that 'care' isn't only financial, it could be as simple as someone happily visiting you in the old folks home.

It use to be like that years ago, However now, each man for it's own

They say usualy the girls are the one that will be there for elderly parents

So it's good having at least one daughter

Absolutely! When you've got kids - especially more than 2 - odds are that at least one of them will have the resources to take care of you if you run out of money or fall into bad health. Of course they have to care enough to do so, but unless you were a really bad parent I can't see many kids who would let their 'rents become homeless, go hungry, or end up in a state nursing home.

On a related note, when I used to complain about doing chores as a kid, my dad said "why do you think we had so many of you?!" (I am one of four kids). He then explained how in the old days one of the perks of having kids was all the free labor they did on the family farm or what have you.

I might get a bit long winded here...

I remember when I was young 8, 9, 10ish. My father and grandfather (mother's father) couldn't stand to be in the same room together. As the years went on and my grandparent's health began to decline, we (my parents) took them in, they actually purchased a new two family home for all of us out in the country, lots of land for the dogs, my brother and I. Many nights and days we would hear my grandfather calling because he fell. My father put everything aside to run upstairs and help him - I was close behind by that time in High School. He may not have liked him but there was instilled a duty in my father to respect and help others. My parents are now approaching the days I can remember with my grandparents and I wonder what will happen. My wife doesn't get along with my mother, much the same as with my dad and grandpa. It is sad to see history repeating and I cannot blame either, I love them both dearly. My children thankfully will be spared the yelling because I know better and will NOT let it happen. But I hope I am instilling the same duty my father learned and passed to me. Having six children I expect one will take care of us, if we need it. I hope I raise them correctly to not only take care of us but anyone who needs help. To sit and listen to an elderly woman/man who has a story to tell but nobody to tell. To give comfort to those who sacrificed for our generation and theirs and countless to come. So yes, children are insurance policies. We pay into them with love, discipline, honor, morals, and teachings given to us by our parents/grandparents. We withdraw kindness, love, respect, the occasional helping hand, and a quiet mouth with an open ear. They give us far more than help in our failing year, they give hope for the future. And in the end when I am laying in my death bed, looking up at 1 or all XX of my children I will be happy knowing I never regretted any of the children I Sacrificed for all these years. Never wanted any of the junk I couldn't buy because of their tuition, or the food they seem to be constantly consuming. Or the long hours at work alone, away from my family to be able to provide properly for each of them...

I should end it there, I went a little too long! Thanks for reading if you made it this far. :)

Sometimes, I wonder if our decision not to have children will be a problem in our elder years. We do't think that we'd need their assistance financially but it would be nice to know that somebody that truly loves us is looking out for our wellbeing when/if our minds aren't as sharp as they are today. Outside of close friends and siblings, who will be about the same age we are and parents who will most likely be dead, children are the most likely to have the kind of love that would make them see that you're not being abused or mistreated if you can't really stand up for yourself.

As someone who has helped take care of an elderly grandfather and parent I don't think I would wish this upon my children. I'm personally planning to have enough money in retirement to live in some sort of assisted-living facility as long as possible. I'd like to be in the same city or region as my children but that would be about it.

I have been caring for my mother in one way or another since she fell and shattered both elbows at the age of 59. I was only 35 at the time, with three young children to care for. Mom has now lived in assisted living for 6 years, with LOTS of physical problems. I am responsible for being her advocate when she's in the hospital and nursing home (OFTEN). My husband and I are also caring for his mother, who's been in assisted living for five years and is very demented. YES, they live in facilities, but that does not exempt the children from providing lots of support.

I never imagined how early in my life I would be called upon to provide elder care, or how many years such care would last. But it's the right thing to do, and I'm happy to do it.

I meant to add that we purchased long term care insurance in our early 50s. I do not want to saddle our three children with more responsibility for our care than they can bear. Sometimes, I've had nearly more than I can handle with our mothers.

@Amy - I am 49 and also don't have kids, although not by choice. I might say - by stupidity - was looking for a prince for a bit too long, then lost the ability to have kids much too early. Notice to those who think of waiting for having kids: you don't know when your ability to do so will be taken away from you.

I am also wondering about who'll take care of me when I am old. It is not the issue of money - I think I'll have enough - but of other things. Who'll wait for you if you go for a medical procedure that requires someone to pick you up? Sure there are friends, but they are the same age you are. Who'll make decisions about your care if you are not in the position to make them? Who'll make sure your wishes are carried out?

My mother is sick, so as I do these things for her, I cannot help thinking of who'd do them for me.

@Miss M. "I know in some cultures it's considered a duty for kids to take care of the parents in old age, a cultural social security plan. I'm curious what someone from that background, but raised in america, thinks of it. I"
I wasn't raised in America, but I was relatively young (19) when we immigrated from Russia. Yes, in Russia this was considered a duty, and I tend to think of it this way. But duty is kind of a wrong word - it's more like a natural thing to do. I love my parents, so why wouldn't I take care of them? I saw my mother take care of my grandmother, so I've always known that this is something I'd do to. I also think we are just closer to our parents. For us parents are members of our family, but in the US parents are a different family. I know that if I needed money, my parents would never have refused. Nor would I if it were the other way around. Actually, my parents do have less money than I - simply because they were in their 40s when we immigrated, and they spoke no English, so they've always earned less than I did, not to mention they simply didn't have as much time to save and being pretty risk-averse kept all of their savings in CDs. If they needed money, I'd give it to them in a flash - any time I suggest my parents buy something and they say they cannot afford it, I offer to buy it - and I mean it. They usually refuse - "but we don't want you to spend money too". I cannot imagine not taking care of my parents.

Now, this may be true for many families in Russia, but not for all. The differences between individuals are still greater than difference between cultures. I know some cases of immigrants from Russia where adult children are estranged or where adult children continue taking money from parents, then don't help their parents when parents need help. I also know many Americans who do take care of their parents.

it depends on your relationships with your kids, on your own flexibility to accept their values. Then, it can be great!

I don't know whether they are an insurance policy, but that's certainly the main reason that people give as to why those that don't want kids should have them anyway.

My grandparents chose to move back to the country they were born in, a short plane ride away from their children but close to extended family. They are much more reliant on their nieces than their kids for practical reasons.

Similarly, I live 100+ miles from my parents and I'm not really going to move closer to them if they need care. I have a life and income here.

Kids might be willing to help you out when you're older but that help will be on their terms not yours.

Maybe back in the day it was reasonable to having the parents move in with you, however the demographics of our population have changed. I'm an only child, single, with no children and never plan to have children. I make a modest income. There is no way I can afford to financial support my parents and myself while trying to fund for my own retirement. My mother is fond of saying she never wants to be in a nursing home. I usually respond that she should probably stop shopping at Kohl's so much and save enough money so she'll never have to end up in one. :) I also remind her that if I'm lucky enough to reach her age, I will have no one. No husband. No child. No social security. Most of what I make now is being put into long-term savings to pay for services and help that she doesn't have to pay for.

So yeah, long-winded way of saying that I don't think it's reasonable, especially in my situation, to expect kids to financially support their parents. Especially when we know that most gen-x kids are financially worse off than their parents.

It is expensive insurance, but it can be an expensive benefit. Whether the relationship will exist, whether the need will be there, whether the capability will be there, are all subject to circumstance which is why it shouldn't be your only plan, but it should be a possibility if you can make it one. A younger spouse can also serve as such which leaves largely women providing it as well as needing it. It can be a great expression of love rather than burden, but there are limits to what one can do beyond which extended care becomes necessary.

Like kitty, I grew up in an immigrant family. For me it was an Italian language household, and was raised in an extended family of aunts, uncles and grandparents. As early as 10 years of age was helping any relative/family friend who couldn't speak english with all sorts of grown up issues, translating, banking, insurance, benefits etc. On the other hand, I was taken care of while my parents worked. There was never a question of daycare b'cuz there was always a relative to care for and feed the children of the family. There was deep a connection and an understanding that we took care of one another, no questions asked.
My mom got sick at 36 years old and we moved back to my grandparents house so she would be taken care of by family. They finished raising me when she died. When they got older I helped take care of them. Again no questions asked. Sure there were time when things got difficult, when we didn't see eye to eye, but not taking care of one another was never an option.
I still help my aunt and uncle to this day with business matters.
Unlike MoneyMonk I'm sure my 4 kids will be there for my husband and I, they grew up watching us take care of family members as a part of every day life.

I love my parents, and even thought we don't agree politically, I love spending time with them and talking about the many interests we have in common.

I've asked them to disinherit me (based on what's happened over my grandma's estate) because I really want to have a chance to have a good relationship with my brother. For generations, money (SMALL amounts of it) has split siblings all over my family... I'd rather have nothing than have a fight with my brother over who gets what.

democrats will take care of us when we are old, duh!

Not having read through all the comments -- YES absolutely kids are a form of "insurance"! In other cultures kids are EXPECTED to support their parents in their dotage. Why do you think boys are so highly prized in agricultural cultures? Not only they can they contribute more as strong young men, they won't move off to become a part of their spouse's new families and will be around to support the parents in old age. As someone who straddles American and another culture, I most certainly intend to be a part of my parents' financial security when they are too old to work.

Oh, boy. We never thought of our kids as insurance. We see examples of some of the children looking after their parents while others try their best to mooch off them.

For us we just had kids. We love them and are doing our best to raise them up well and let them loose into the world. We are also looking forward to the grandkids.

But if we ever need their help, and they do help us, then I suppose it would be a bonus.

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