Ms. Truong worried about not earning enough as a journalist to live her life and support her parents. She was offered what she called an “amazing” opportunity to be a restaurant editor for a media outlet, but turned it down because the pay wasn’t high enough to support two households. She managed to build a successful career and is currently on the executive team at the American Press Institute, a nonprofit working to improve journalism. Rather than asking her parents about their individual bills, she sends them a lump sum each month to use as they see fit.
“They have a bunch of expenses that don’t make sense to me, but if I say something about it, it’ll become my problem,” she said. “So I leave it up to them to budget from that money.”
Joy Cho, 43, is Thai. Her parents came to the United States in 1975 with little money, but managed to connect with partners who helped them open a Thai restaurant in Philadelphia. Ms. Cho, the founder of a lifestyle brand, Oh Joy!, said that her parents didn’t set explicit expectations that she would support them, but she knew it was something she wanted to do.
“They worked so hard and did all the things they could for me, so I could go to college and be on the path that I am now and have a family of my own,” she said. “For me to be able to help take care of them now at this stage of life is the least that I can do.”
Ms. Cho’s husband is Korean, and he came from an upbringing, she said, where the expectations were more traditional. He gave his parents his first paycheck after he completed medical school and a long residency.
In addition to helping both sets of parents with monthly bills like phone plans and rent, Ms. Cho and her husband keep a close eye on some of their other needs. For example, when they noticed that Ms. Cho’s father was driving a car that was giving him trouble, they bought him a new one. They also saw Ms. Cho’s father tapping on a decade-old television to get it to work, and despite his protests that it was fine, they replaced it.
‘A team effort’
Having siblings who can pitch in makes it easier to ensure that our parents’ financial needs are met. I have two brothers who work in the food and service industry and don’t earn as much as I do, but they contribute money when they can. Since they live in California and I do not, they help in incalculable ways by running errands for our parents and driving them to doctor appointments.