Ungrateful

Here’s an interesting one, and it leaves me curiously conflicted

A millionaire has revealed he refuses to help his struggling parents pay off their mortgage so they can retire because they wouldn’t invest in his fledgling company five years ago.  The unnamed son, believed to be from the UK, explained on Reddit that he started a business in 2015, and his parents refused to invest £100 because they thought it would fail.  However in the last couple of years it’s boomed – but the son, who earns ‘borderline seven figures a year’, remains bitter about his parents’ lack of support.
The son explained he quit his office job, which paid £26,000 a year, in order to start his business in 2015 – when his parents and siblings earned twice or triple what he made.
‘When I opened my business, I asked if they wanted to invest as little as £100 in it, no one did… My entire family thought that my business was going to fail, just like I failed my sixth form,’ he wrote.
However, the company turned out to be a success and the business boomed in 2018 and 2019.
The son wrote: ‘My parents still have around £200,000 in mortgage payments left and are about to retire. Yesterday at a family reunion, my aunt asked why I don’t help them out financially considering I make more in a year than they make in a decade.’
He said he told his aunt he did not want to help because his parents had shown no belief in his venture.
‘I also told her that my parents made more than enough to put aside some money each month towards retirement, but due to their unorganised spending habits they were living pay cheque to pay cheque every month. They were making TRIPLE what I was making when I was an office boy,’ he explained.

Here’s why I’m conflicted.

I myself couldn’t do this to my parents, because parents.  (And if you need me to explain that rationale, you need help.)

On the other hand:  one of my ironclad rules in dealing with people is this:  I never forget an insult, and I never forgive an injury.  I am the world’s best friend to have — I’ll do anything to help a close friend — but screw me over or betray my trust, and there is a good chance that I’ll never speak to you again.

So in that moral context, I can understand  this young guy’s attitude towards people who didn’t help him on his way up, but I can’t forgive it.  And here’s why.

What he seems to have forgotten is that if he’d never have been born, they could probably have paid off their mortgage long before now.  But they had him, raised and nurtured him, and when he’d grown up, they let him go.  All that stuff costs money, lots of it (as any parent knows).

But all that said, I have little sympathy for the parents now, because they had the chance to help their child — for a piffling amount of money — and refused.  The essence of parenthood is to give, and give, and give — sometimes even when you can’t give any more, you still give.  Because it’s your child, that’s why.  Telling him his idea was dumb and he was going to fail (again) was a dick move — and now that he’s turned out for the better, they shouldn’t be surprised by his attitude — because they created it.

He’s angry at them for refusing to support him, and  for insulting him by recalling past failures.  The hurt goes deep, and I quite understand it.  I still couldn’t do what he’s done, because the corollary to being a part of a family is that when you’re an adult, you support your parents — and give, and give, and give — sometimes even when you can’t give anymore.

That’s family, and family is the basic building block of a happy and well-ordered society.

A man stabbed his mother to death, and as she lay dying she saw the knife had turned in his hand and he’d cut himself.  With her last breath she whispered, “Oh my son, bandage thy wound lest thou bleed to death.”

Parenthood.

14 comments

  1. What are we talking about here, a little over $100, and he’s holding a grudge? Seems petty to me.
    He should have slapped his aunt’s face for sticking her fat nose into something that is not her concern.
    And, it appears there is more to the story than is shown. It is described that even though the parents made decent money they “chose” to live paycheck to paycheck. Anyway, it’s not my concern, though I agree with you Kim about the sacrifice parents make for their kids. We have 1 son, now 40 years old. In 1988 I read an article in the WSJ stating it cost about $285k to cultivate a child from conception through college and immediately after reading it I called a urologist and scheduled a vasectomy. I’m convinced our lifestyle would have been handicapped if I hadn’t done that. We are not wealthy people.

    1. If his parents chose to live paycheck to paycheck, how much of that decision was based on the expense of seeing that their ungrateful son did not only fail sixth form but continue that descent into something that would not have enabled him to have the mental force to create a million pound company? I know a couple who spent a lot of money on their daughter when she was acting out as a teen, and now she is married with children, and a fine member of the community, instead of just another meth-head living wherever.
      You are correct, there is more to it than the son is saying, and even more than the reporter has said.

  2. I’m conflicted as well, because as you say, parents.

    Then again, I think there’s a place, even in family, for “You made your bed, now sleep in it.” My wife has an aunt and uncle (now in their 90s) who had their own business, they were the “rich aunt and uncle” when she was growing up. They have a son (my age) who got addicted to drugs, started stealing from the company, and worse because it was a company that was successful because the customers trusted them, he killed off the customer trust, which caused the business to collapse. Uncle mortgaged the house in order to “help” son (guess where that money went). So now aunt and uncle are struggling financially at a time when they ought to be enjoying the fruits of their labor, and son is wondering whatever he will do when his parents are gone. I have a suggestion which I daren’t speak in front of the family, but it involves Russian Roulette with a single-shot.

  3. A tough decision, and since I wasn’t involved at any point I don’t know any of the details so whatever opinion I may have is irrelevant. I do, however, completely understand and support the idea of “I never forget an insult, and I never forgive an injury.”

    A friend, a goodly number of years ago, was faced with a situation: her father had died, and as the sole surviving heir she had responsibility for things. ‘Ol Dad left his estate in an unholy mess, and to top it off, had been the enabler for her abusive alcoholic mother.

    The daughter stepped up and handled everything; I accompanied her to the funeral home where she insisted on a rental casket – “put him in a nice casket for the viewing but he’s getting buried in cardboard.” So, her father occupied a rather nice sales floor model for a day, and, as I understand it, was dumped in the concrete liner in the hole quite unceremoniously a couple days later. Everything got sold off ASAP to cover taxes, and AFAIK she’s never been back to the grave.

    One of the guys I shoot IPSC with is a shrink and his philosophy is that there is no such thing as a non-dysfunctional family, they’re all dysfunctional to varying degrees and in their own way. As is often said, we get to pick our friends but we don’t get to pick our family.

  4. Yes, they each have reason to hold a grudge; but, Parents.
    He should pay off the mortgage, and hold the title to the home. After both his parents are gone, he can decide what to do with it.

    1. Exactly. If he does pay off the mortgage and doesn’t exercise control as stated, they’ll just use the house as an ATM machine.

      1. true. Though I’m afraid that if he does take the title to the home they’ll trash the property either just to spite him or because they couldn’t care less, leaving him with a house that needs major renovation and has a sunken value when his parents do vacate it for that great Spanish beach resort in the sky where British pensionados end up after they leave this dirtball of a planet.

        And in the meantime they’ll no doubt continue to complain he doesn’t provide for them by means of new televisions, carpets, cars, and everything else they want that “he can easily afford but we can’t”.

        They do seem to be that kind of personalities who’re never content and always want to milk others for more.

  5. I was hoping, in vain as it turned out, that nobody had posted a comment with my idea. I was going to say much the same as askeptic did, so I’ll expand on it some. He can pay off the mortgage, by buying the house. If he wants to be stingy, he pays what they owe; if more generous, he can buy it for fair market value and they get to enjoy the equity (less any long-term capital gains taxes). He let’s them live in it, charging rent or not depending, again, on his stinginess. Either way, he owns the house and his parents have to live the rest of their lives in that house knowing they do so only by his grace. Ideally they will spend that time experiencing a potent mixture of gratitude and shame.

  6. A lot of details missing in the article. Sounds like this was his 6th business attempt and the prior 5 failed. Did the parents put up cash on the prior 5? As a parent sometimes you have to say no. It’s not the amount that matters, it’s the principle of it.

    I have a son like that. He can’t save anything for an emergency fund. Spends it as fast as it comes in. He kept coming back to me asking me to help him out. I finally had to tell him no, this bank is closed.

    As for the original article, how is it the parents still owe that much at retirement? Did they take out a second mortgage funding the son’s 5 prior endeavors or just make poor choices in life? We are only hearing the son’s side.

    If they funded the 5 prior endeavors which leaves them in this situation then the son is being an ass and should pay off their mortgage with no strings attached.

    If they are in debt this far due to their lifestyle choices that’s a whole nother kettle of fish. In this instance I would probably pay off the mortgage but definitely put a lien against the title. Who’s to say the parents wouldn’t just go take another mortgage out to continue the lifestyle? At least with the lien they would not have a clear title and should not be able to borrow against it.

    Like I said above. Not enough information to make a proper determination.

  7. One thing to keep in mind — the 100 pounds might be the cassus belli but it certainly isn’t the totality. It’s the Hundo PLUS the discouragement PLUS being spendthrifts not just in his adulthood but also his childhood (as an aside — they wouldn’t have paid off the house, they would have just had bigger vacations if they were childless) plus whatever weird shame thing those kinds of people would have going on between him and his siblings.

    He blames the 100 pounds. It really comes down to parents who play favorites — with themselves the favorites of the favorites — getting what they deserve, good and hard.

    Would I do this to my own parents? No. I didn’t have those parents. But I get it when he says “ok boomer” and certainly have friends who I would support in the same decision for the same reasons.

  8. [blockquote]
    On the other hand: one of my ironclad rules in dealing with people is this: I never forget an insult, and I never forgive an injury. I am the world’s best friend to have — I’ll do anything to help a close friend — but screw me over or betray my trust, and there is a good chance that I’ll never speak to you again.[/blockquote]

    Is it an insult or injury to say “I don’t think your business will work, it doesn’t make sense and I’m not going to invest in something that is going to take your time, talent and effort away from something useful”?

    Now, if they said “You’re going to fail because you’re weak, undisciplined and stupid” that’s another thing entirely.

    On a topic from an earlier day, regarding your plunge in Uber revenue:
    https://www.shipt.com/shopper-applications/

    My daughter works there, and they can’t fill all the orders because there’s not enough shoppers/drivers.

  9. It’s their family, it’s their affair – or it was, until the son shot off his mouth. I guess it takes a pair of assholes to raise an asshole.
    .

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