Are African families too demanding?
This seems to be the topic on everyone’s lips lately as more stars are coming out and revealing how, because of their fame and fortune, they have felt the financial brunt of demanding family members.
US comedian Tracy Morgan’s family has reportedly lambasted him for not paying his mother’s full mortgage amount of $25 000 (R302 000), saying he can afford it. They said the $2 000 (R24 160) that Morgan has been paying towards his mother’s house per month is simply “not enough”.
Hollywood actor Laurence Fishburne’s mother, who says she emptied her retirement savings account so that her only child would become a star, reportedly claims that he is not doing enough for her.
She was quoted saying she is facing eviction and allegedly claims she has not bought a new dress since she retired.
One person who controversially fired back at his demanding family was Togo’s Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who took to Facebook recently to expose his family’s demands for money over the years.
Adebayor claims that he has bought lavish houses and cars, given tons of money to his family, and even started a business for his mother, but they are ungrateful and still demand more.
Worse, they have taken to the media to tarnish his reputation about how selfish he is.
Does one have the responsibility to take care of their family financially once they have made it in life? Where does one draw the line between assistance and pure extortion?
One of the people who says he is sick of being used by his family is Thabang* (not real name), who, perhaps not as brave as Adebayor, spoke on account of anonymity, because he says all hell will break loose.
“I’m a successful engineer at a mine and my family is using my [success] against me.
“I was raised by a single mother, and I am very grateful for all that she has done for me. I give her R5 000 a month for groceries and spending and also have a sister who I am putting through college, and two older siblings who do not work. I find myself supporting their kids too. Anything from school trips, visits to the doctor, clothes, and their school fees.”
Thabang says he wants his siblings to get jobs and support their own children.
“ I have goals I want to achieve. Right now I feel like my salary is not mine, but ours. I feel trapped.”
Thabang also recalled how, when his grandmother died, every family member looked to him for assistance with burial costs.
“They all contributed next to nothing. That really hurt me .”
To find out where to draw the line, we spoke to the chairman of the KwaZuluNatal House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwa Chiliza, who says demanding a salary from one individual is uncultural and plain wrong.
“Yes, some parents sacrifice a lot to put their children through varsity and make sure they are educated, but it’s completely uncultural to demand financial support from your child. They do not owe you anything.
“In fact, culturally, the parent owes the child education and seeing that they are independent, not the other way round.”
Family social worker Luthuli Nolwandle agrees with Chiliza.
“Parents should be able to accept any amount the child decides to offer them as assistance, even if it’s R500.
“Not to set a bar for how much they want. That is financially draining, and completely unfair to the child.”
How do you know you are being fleeced
Social worker Luthuli Nolwandle offers these warning signs to know when you are used by your family.
- They call you close to or on your payday about some emergency need for cash.
- Asking for more assistance a few days after you have helped them.
- Getting upset if you are unable to assist financially.
- Only calling when they need something, never calling just to check up on you.
- Knowing your salary, and deeming it as “a lot”.
- No endeavours to help themselves, by getting jobs and becoming independent.
Here is what you can do:
- If you still stay at home, move out. It’s easier for family to be demanding if you share the same house. Get your own space.
- Set boundaries. While it might be okay to help here and there, preventing extortion begins with learning to say no to other things that are not necessities.
- Do not extend your generosity to extended family members. Helping your mother and father out, as well as young siblings may be okay, but other family members are not your responsibility; including older siblings, cousins and anybody else who has the capabilities of earning their own salary.
- Act broke. Let it be known to them how up to your ears you are with bills and mortgage, car payments, etc. That should be the perfect answer whenever anyone tries to overstep their boundaries financially with you.