Cultural Differences – Paying for your Parents

I recently read an interesting post on A Cup of Jo on Paying for your Parents.

Filial piety is a key value in Confucian and Korean culture. Known as 효 in Korean, it means to honour and serve one’s parents and ancestors, and often involves monetary support.

Jo’s post touches on the fact that this idea often received with shock by those from other cultures, and I know it has been discussed in depth in my relationship.

While I can understand the thought and tradition behind the practice, I was initially quite surprised when it was first explained to me by my partner. My opinion was formed from my own family’s attitudes and Australian culture, where generally you work, save and contribute to your superannuation to ensure you are financially independent after you retire and so that you don’t place undue pressure on your children. Conversely my partner believes that since parents give up so much for their children it is the child’s responsibility to reciprocate this, often including monetary support. It’s also common for Korean’s to present their first pay check to their parents.

Although our beliefs still differ somewhat, I repect and support my partners decisions regarding his duties toward his parents 100%. I can definitely get behind gifts and small tokens of appreciation for parents. ^^

How about you? Is your culture similar to this? Are you planning to help your parents financially? I’d definitely be interested in other opinions 🙂

If you’re interested in reading more about filial piety in Korean culture, this article was also quite interesting~


3 thoughts on “Cultural Differences – Paying for your Parents

  1. alodia says:

    It’s the same in Filipino culture. As much as you were surprised at how children are expected to support their parents financially in the future in Korean culture, I was also quite surprised at first how come in some cultures it’s okay to not support their parents financially in their old age and the old people can basically survive on their own, living alone or being sent to nursing homes (you’ll rarely find a nursing home in the Philippines). So it’s kinda difficult to save money for oneself here. If you are working, you are expected to give a big part of your salary to your parents. If you have younger siblings or nieces and nephews that are still studying, you are also ‘obligated’ to help out since you are working and earning. Most of the working unmarried Filipino’s earnings go to their families (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews). And even if you are married you are still obligated to support everyone in your family if you are earning enough but of course it’s quite understandable if you can’t give much if you are already married and have a family of your own. That’s why, parents have “ill-feelings” for their children who get married right after graduating from college. “They weren’t even able to give back to us / help us” is what parents usually say to those kids.

    • sydneytoseoul says:

      Interesting~! I can definitely understand the reverse attitude, although I would hope that children letting their parents live poorly is a minority. I would think the main attitude in Australia is that it is good form to help out your parents but there is no strict duty or expectation to provide monetary support as in Korean or Filipino culture as you described.

      The thing I struggle most with is how you mention parents may having ill-feelings toward their children if they don’t provide financial support, which I feel is somewhat unfair, but that is just simply a reflection of my own upbringing.
      It is these differences in culture that make them so fascinating!

  2. nothisisjosie says:

    Speaking generally about American cultures, I think people typically just flee the nest as soon as they’re prepared to separate themselves from their parents. Its really easy to cut ties with family if you don’t get along, and there’s no guilt behind doing that. I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no expectation for kids to care for their parents in American culture. But that’s really interesting about Korean culture!

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