Thursday, December 28, 2023

home alone letter writer

Today I read this advice column letter in the New York Times:
I am 68 and live alone in a nice home in the suburbs. My only child, 40, is happily settled with his fiancĂ©e in another city. I always hoped they would come back here to raise a family, and I offered to give them my home if they did. They like the idea and plan to build a new house on the site. Over Christmas, I told them I was excited about their plan and added: “You could build a mother-in-law apartment for me or even a guesthouse.” It’s a large lot. My son burst out laughing and said, “Mom, you wouldn’t live with us.” They assumed I would move into a condo. I was shattered!

The columnist replied:
I don’t think a reasonable person would expect the gift of a home to include your continued residency in it — unless you mentioned that fact.

American society is so different from Chinese expectations! I can only imagine how Chinese netizens would react to a son who wants to take over his mom's house but laughs at the idea of letting her stay in a detached unit on the lot. 

The US has sky-high demands on parents taking care of kids, but nothing in the other direction. If a parent said they wanted to take over their teen's inherited trust fund and then kick the teen out to live on their own, people would be aghast! Yet they don't blink if someone is doing it to their mom instead of their kid. 

American parents invest so much time and money into their children, with little hope of caretaking in their older years. It's interesting.

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