The Financial Side of Parenting: Obligations And Expectations

Welcome to the last week and the last day in the month of February 2022.

Like last week, the inspiration for today’s article is from a long-drawn social media debate. This debate had to do with whether or not we were our parents’ “retirement plan”. As expected, this was a very passionate discussion with very cogent points for and against this expectation or belief.

Whilst it was ongoing, this debate reminded me of a discussion I had several years ago with my cousin who is an American citizen. We had just returned from his church which had a reasonable number of high-income Nigerian professionals and I was curious to understand the secret behind this (the relative success of Nigerian educated migrants).

One of the reasons we could deuce was the fact that many of them had come to the US as students sponsored by their parents or families back home. This meant that most of them started their post-education or adult lives without the burden of student loans which gave them a head start or advantage over many of their contemporaries.

This advantage, which we many times overlook or underestimate is one of the reasons many people feel morally obligated to be their parents’ “retirement plan”.

In all the opinions expressed, I could easily relate with that of Aisha Yesufu, the social activist. She stated that a balanced approach was the most optimal – ensure that you are financially stable enough to take care of your aged parents whilst ensuring that you don’t burden your own children with your own responsibility.

In my opinion, black tax is a common feature in many black communities and needs to be addressed as realistically as possible. I personally do not believe that this practice can be done away with. Rather, it is something that must be talked about as openly as possible within our respective families.

Black tax is a South African term used to describe the money a black professional provides to his or her family members on a regular basis outside of their own living expenses.

In most cases, these payments are not voluntary but mandatory and are mainly responsible for the economic inequality experienced in black communities.

For many people, discretion is a major way of deflecting black tax. When people believe you are financially limited, demands for monetary assistance tend to be minimal.

I remember the story of a man who requested financial assistance from his relatives on their family WhatsApp platform as a way of ensuring that no one could, in turn, ask him for funds.

Another way others handle black tax is through avoidance. You can only make demands from an individual who is within reach. This is extreme but happens in cases where the individual feels overwhelmed.

The ideal way of handling this issue is by learning to set limits, saying no when necessary, and making financial budgets for such requests. I agree this can be difficult but must be done. Otherwise, one runs the risk of impoverishing one’s self in the quest of satisfying other people. This has been the agitation of many millennials and generation z members.

Depending on the side of the divide you belong to, proper and adequate planning is required to ensure we strike the required financial balance.

See you all in March!


Toyin Oguntuyi