We all know of the tradition of parents leaving properties and large sums of money to their children in their wills when they die? Well it appears that this long held tradition is on its way out in the UK and USA and certainly is spreading to Nigeria. Many parents are still making huge financial contributions to support children and grandchildren even into adulthood due to current financial difficulties. As people are living longer in many other parts of the world (apart from Nigeria it seems) they are spending more to support their lifestyles and retirement. Many wealthy over 60s are travelling the world and treating themselves to luxuries they could not afford when they were younger. Bill Gates the owner of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men in the world has famously said that he intends to spend all of his wealth and give very little or no to his children because he does not want to cripple them as he has already equipped them with good education and training. He wants them to know what it is like to work for their money and achieve their own wealth and have a sense of pride in what they do. Here in Nigeria, we hear so many cases of children fighting for many years after their parents have died, over one house or the inheritance that the parents have left them. Again in Nigeria, we frequently have families where there is more than one wife or numerous children from various women, which makes it a nightmare to share the inheritance left behind. Often you find the first wife trying not to let the children of the other “small” wives get their hands on the man’s inheritance. But it seems this is becoming a thing of the past as the older generation now need to use their money to fund their own retirement.
It is perhaps not something you hear about in the media every day, but statistics show that the divorce rate among retirees (over 50s) is increasing rapidly. Whenever we talk about divorce rates or couples separating, we typically focus on the impact that the divorce will have on the couple’s children. Very rarely do we discuss the impact on the individuals themselves, or on their healthcare and living needs. This is an issue that has been growing for a few years now and is now at a point that requires attention and action to prevent our society fragmenting into copy cat versions of developed societies which are already having problems catering for a rapidly ageing population with no obvious financial means of supporting themselves. Whatever inheritance that would have gone towards children, is now being diverted to cater for the needs of the parents. In the UK the divorce rate for couples over the age of 60 has grown by an amazing 30% just in the last ten years. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of elderly over age 75 that are now living alone. In terms of pressure on the care system, this could mean that adult social care costs could increase at a staggering rate, especially if divorce rates continue to increase in the same way they are now.
There is an ongoing argument that children are becoming even more reliant on their parents to help and support them financially for longer. Of course, there are a variety of different schools of thought related to why this is happening. One reason is the decline in our education system, the societal decay and the lack of jobs One thing to keep in mind when discussing the evolving family make up, is that not every parent manages their parental responsibilities in the same way or have the resources to support children or even themselves, and even furthermore, parents can really only do so much to manage how their children react to the everyday struggle of real life. That being said, adult children will essentially live their lives as they see fit, whether it was the way in which they were raised or not. Perhaps one of the biggest things to keep in mind when focusing on how children have grown to be so reliant on parents is the way in which parents now help their children, which is quite different from years and decades passed. The method of helping has certainly evolved and has grown to include much larger expenses and costs. It is no longer just that parents give their children a car for their birthday when they have reached the age old enough to drive. Now, parents seem to be taking financing to a new level. Some parents are even taking on the responsibility of using their own properties as guarantors for mortgages for their children or even giving the children their savings to buy land or property to support them. This is a growing problem