Do Adult Children Have an Obligation to Support Needy Parents?

Even if some siblings can afford to help more than others, no one should shirk the obligation to assist in some way -- financial or otherwise.

Adult Daughter Comforting Mother Suffering With Dementia
(Image credit: monkeybusinessimages)

Question: My retired parents are having a hard time paying for their modest living expenses in Florida, and they might be facing home health care or nursing home costs soon. I think my siblings and I should all chip in, but my brother is balking. He says we have no moral obligation to help our parents, and that's what government assistance is for. What do you think?

Answer: I'm with you on this. I think filial responsibility is part of a social contract that's a well-established tradition in many societies, such as China and India, but less so in western nations like the U.S.

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Knight Kiplinger
Editor Emeritus, Kiplinger

Knight came to Kiplinger in 1983, after 13 years in daily newspaper journalism, the last six as Washington bureau chief of the Ottaway Newspapers division of Dow Jones. A frequent speaker before business audiences, he has appeared on NPR, CNN, Fox and CNBC, among other networks. Knight contributes to the weekly Kiplinger Letter.