My parent’s debt is exhausting all of my savings. What am I to do?



I'm kind of stuck in a situation. My parents have debt issues, and unless I help them out they will lose everything probably, or at least they would have to sell the house. In the last couple of months I have been helping them out while trying to earn money to go on a mission trip. From past help, I have given my parents about $3,000. My mom, I love her to death, but she says, "We have to do this. We need help. God will provide you with money still to go on the missions trip." I have $2,000 right now in the bank, but she just came up to me today and said, "Well, it's probably all going to be gone. I will need it next week."

Problem is, I got fired last Friday by my boss who got mad at me. He had his wife fire me for a mistake he made with another worker, but took it out on me. The other worker is my friend, whom he blames for the mistake, but yet it was his fault and I got fired for something I had no control over. My friend missed doing a job cause my boss forgot to put it in his paperwork. I get fired for it even though I did five jobs that day and my friend's work had nothing to do with me. Apparently the boss was angry all week and took it out on me. So I have been without a job for a week and, well, my income is zero and today when my mother told me she is going to need the two grand that I wanted to use for my missions trip, I was not happy. I am not happy already because if I still had the three grand they already used I would be able to meet the eight and a half grand I need in time to go for a year. But now if I have to start from zero, I really have no idea how to pull eight grand out of nowhere.

I have been working my butt off and spending hardly any cash on myself whatsoever. I sold almost everything I have, which is fine, but I don't feel right about it when it all goes to paying bills for my parents, even though the end of the bills should be totally done within three months. My response is, "Well, God has provided. I'm sending money to my parents and it's going down the drain." I don't mind helping out my parents, but today with what my mom said I just felt so helpless. I live with them and I want to help out, but at the same time God did provide a job for me and I've saved every penny that was earned, and barely spent any money myself. It's like I was heading toward the goal and just got slapped down to the bottom again for the second time. I'm really discouraged and wondering, what should I do?

I'm the type of guy where I tell my parents, "Sell your house. Have a couple of hundred grand in your pockets. Move into a townhouse so there isn't much responsibility for the yard and stuff. Then you would have more time to serve God and do more for Him without all the worries of the house and debt."

Sorry, I am complaining and I shouldn't. My mind hasn't been at peace all day, I usually love being around people but today I don't even want anyone to even talk to me. All I want is some advice and correction from someone and, well, I figure you good at doing both. I also need direction on where to go. Anyway, again I'm sorry for the un happy report and all the complaining. Thanks for always listening.


I can't say I'm happy about your parent's behavior in general. Financial problems do arise from time to time. It is great that you are in a position to help them, but the problem is, the way your parents are going about this is harming a very important and necessary step in your own development. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). In order for you to successfully establish your own family, you must at some point in your life sever your ties with your family. I know you don't currently have someone you plan to marry, but still, the order of events must be there.

You can see this erosion of boundaries between your life and your parents by the discord in your own attitude. You want to help, you normally enjoy helping, but now your parents' irresponsibility is impacting what you were going to do with your life. Your mother is wrong in her argument. She made bad decisions. She is asking you to rescue her from her own problems, but she then claims that God is going to rescue you. I know of no passage where God says He will rescue people from their own financial mistakes. He does care for His people and often in marvelous ways, but He tells His people they must do what they can. "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). God has only stated that if we do the best we can, then we don't have to worry about it not being enough. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:31-34).

Gifts should be freely given because a person wants to help and has extra with which to help. "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). But that sharing is not to make the giver needy himself. Nor is giving to enable another person to continue to live an irresponsible life.

The general rule is that people should face the consequences of their own choices. "Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, They would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies." (Galatians 6:7-8). Sometimes people make the best choices they know how to make, but circumstances outside their control interfere. Such people should be helped. But others do as they please and because they never face the result of their poor decisions, they come to expect being rescued. I see this all the time with young people who are constantly bailed out from missing homework, punishment at school, trouble with the law, etc. They go from bad to worse because nothing bad ever happens to them. It appears your parents are of the same nature. They always manage to find someone to bail them out and now they are using their own children to cover for their mistakes.

If they were willing to change, if they were willing to be fiscally responsible, then it would be worth bailing them out. But I strongly suspect that they will only see getting out of this current problem as an opportunity to find another get-rich-quick scheme that will leave them in a financial hole. You should help people improve their lives, not help finance the continuance of an unhealthy lifestyle.

What makes it hard is that it is your own parents who are twisting your arm. But let's project this out into the future. Suppose you had a son who was always financially getting himself into trouble. What would be the best thing for him in the long run? Constantly bailing him out of each mess, or letting him take his lumps and being there to make sure he still has food on the table and clothes on his back? I hope you would choose the latter. And you should do the same for your parents.

The best thing that you can do is find another job. Once you have a small emergency fund establish, say about $1000, find yourself a cheap apartment in which to live. You won't be able to save money as quickly, but you will have taken on responsibility for yourself and have relieved your parents of being responsible for you. Then you can decide, based on an accurate view of your situation, what you would like to do -- six months, one year, or five years down the road.

There are a series of lessons on God's teaching about handling money that I would like you to study in detail. This is not for your parents -- it is for your own life. Step up and become responsible for it.

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