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Author Topic: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18  (Read 2502 times)

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Offline ValthazarTopic starter

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Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« on: March 17, 2014, 03:43:27 PM »
Should parents be legally required to support kids after they become adults?

In many European countries, the answer is yes.  For example, "under Czech law, the duty to support and maintain children is not made conditional on their age or the completion of a certain education level but only on their ability to support themselves" (Source).  The idea is that they have a legal right to stay at their parents' place until they have reached a financial liftoff point.

There was an 18-year-old who went to court to have her parents for not paying her private high school tuition bill, her living and transportation costs, her college education, and and her legal bills.  Ultimately the teenager withdrew the case, since it would have failed in US court. (1)(2)

I can't find any sources for the actual Czech law though.  Which system do you think is better?  There are definitely pros/cons to both.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2014, 03:44:32 PM by Valthazar »

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2014, 04:14:08 PM »
As a disabled 20 year old, I'll be quite biased on this, but I swear I'm not being whiny or greedy.

For my entire youth until I was 18, my parents were the ones responsible for making sure that I was ready to go out into the world and live, successfully, at that deadline. Instead, I was mentally and emotionally abused, and my ability to function was incredibly crippled. And now, I have to deal with people saying shit like "You're over 18; you should be able to do that by yourself" all the time. But no, I can't do those things by myself, because the parents who were responsible for making sure I could failed to do so.

I don't think parents should be able to "put up with their kids" and then toss them out into the abyss at the first opportunity. An extended obligation to support your children might, at the very least, be more motivation to make sure they're ready to fly the coop as soon as possible.

I'd love for my dad to be legally responsible for my adult psychiatric hospital bills, seeing as he's the reason I was admitted.

I realize this is a very narrow viewpoint, but I just wanted to throw something in there.

Offline ValthazarTopic starter

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2014, 04:45:43 PM »
Yeah, I can see both perspectives.  But then the question becomes, what standard should be used to set the legal requirement? 

That's why I was confused about that Czech law, since I couldn't find anything about it online at all.  I only saw it in that article.  If anyone else is able to find something about it, it definitely would be nice to have some details.

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2014, 04:56:48 PM »
The only source I could find indicates the article is broadly correct and may have understated the issue (per section 3 on the beginning of page 4)

Offline Florence

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2014, 05:45:04 PM »
I have to agree I can see both sides.

On one hand, parents shouldn't just do the bare minimum and expect their kids to be fine on their own.

On the other hand, you don't want kids thinking they can just coast through life, constantly leaching off their parents.

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2014, 05:47:28 PM »
I have to agree I can see both sides.

On one hand, parents shouldn't just do the bare minimum and expect their kids to be fine on their own.

On the other hand, you don't want kids thinking they can just coast through life, constantly leaching off their parents.

This is kind of the thing that if you make sure your kids have the means to do well, then they will.

I mean, if you're obligated to feed them, that doesn't necessarily mean you're obligated to buy them video games or things of that sort, etc. Trust me. Unless you horribly spoil your children, they won't want to stick around for very long if they have the option not to—even if that means getting a job and taking care of themselves.

Living with the family isn't exactly "Ideal" and "Coasting."

Offline ValthazarTopic starter

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2014, 06:17:28 PM »
I see what you are saying, roulette. 

But on the other hand, a person is much more likely to find a job and be proactive when they don't have the legal safety net of their parents.  Not suggesting that people relying on their parents are not proactive, but they may subconsciously be less inclined to take jobs "below their standard" when they know they have the luxury of time to wait for their ideal job.

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2014, 06:27:57 PM »
I see what you are saying, roulette. 

But on the other hand, a person is much more likely to find a job and be proactive when they don't have the legal safety net of their parents.  Not suggesting that people relying on their parents are not proactive, but they may subconsciously be less inclined to take jobs "below their standard" when they know they have the luxury of time to wait for their ideal job.

Of course. It's certainly not going to be perfect, and there are some downsides either way. And like I said, I'm biased. But I'm also under the impression that there are probably more "bad" parents than "good", and I really like the idea of them being held responsible for the spawn they not only create, but send out into the world, rather than letting the kids themselves or the people around them deal with it.

Offline Tairis

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 10:43:53 PM »
I don't know what the magical age should be but there needs to be one. A parent is responsible for raising a child, helping a child, allowing them to become adults. They shouldn't be forever obligated to support them.

At some point people have to taken ownership of their own life, for good or ill. If the training wheels are always there... then it never really becomes 'real'.

Offline Sho

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2014, 04:58:47 AM »
Yeah, I'm going to go against the grain here and say…18 is old enough. Obviously, it's wonderful if parents are financially capable of supporting their children past that point, but often-times 18 is a good age for the kid to be out of the house because it then allows the parent to start putting the money they're earning towards their own retirement rather than towards their kid, typically with just enough years left to save up some sort of a safety net for themselves.

If we made parents responsible for their children indefinitely…what motivation would kids ever have to leave? From what I experienced living in Japan, parents have a tendency to allow their children to live at home (since rent prices are absurd) until they either pass their mid/late-twenties or get married…and from what I've seen (and this is obviously personal), they use their money to buy themselves expensive toys like cars, televisions, etc., and rarely contribute tot he household expenses. In fact, they're more than happy to let their parents do the laundry, cook, and clean, allowing them to use their money for purely personal reasons (all the while rationalizing that they're 'saving money').

I 100% agree with Tairis…at a certain point, you have to take ownership of your life, no matter what led you to where you are. If that means getting a job that pays the bills but isn't your dream job while you try to figure other stuff out, then that's what you do. And roulette, I'm sorry you went through everything you did - but I don't think that's the typical situation in the U.S., and I feel like making a law based off what is likely a small percentage of the population wouldn't be particularly beneficial. Would you argue that your parents should support you until you decide you don't want them to (even if you're, say, fifty)?

Obviously parents are obliged to make sure their kids are able to get through their childhood successfully, and build the basic blocks they need to move into a successful adulthood - and many parents continue to support their children through college, if they choose to go. Parents who don't do this should be punished, and we have a legal system that, while it sometimes does fail, is generally set up to do that.

I just think that forcing a parent to support their children beyond 18, legally speaking, would end up having unintended consequences where we would see people having less money saved for retirement, more people living at home and spending money on personal pleasures while their parents provided on the basics, and a general push towards kids becoming ready at a much later age rather than at 18.

Just my two cents, though.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 05:10:43 AM by Sho »

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2014, 05:19:55 AM »
Quote
Would you argue that your parents should support you until you decide you don't want them to (even if you're, say, fifty)?

no, because I'm not a stuck up brat that takes advantage of my parents. I haven't "decided" that I want to live with my family and have them support me. It just happens that I would be on the streets, in the hospital, or perhaps in jail if they didn't.

having parents support their children longer doesn't mean funding their fancy hobbies. It means making sure they are fed and safe. Making it above 18 doesn't mean letting kids loaf forever. I would advocate a time line after school years, while self sufficiency is developing, to be a valid "extension" of the ruling. I really don't think most kids actually move out at 18.

there's no reason to assume that just because I think parents should be obligated to help that I think it should be able a system to abuse. It'd be like welfare, but family funded. The child at that point has to give evidence that they're either attempting to secure a job, or they're medically unable to do so. The parents can help them pay for an apartment to live away or they can make them bunk with their younger siblings and only pay for their food.

If a child can afford to buy themselves a fancy car then obviously they can support themselves and therefore they no longer have the right to live at home.

The idea of free-loaders just isn't typical either.

Offline Sho

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2014, 05:44:09 AM »
Just to clarify - I didn't mean what I asked offensively, and if I came off that way, I apologize. I meant it purely for clarification purposes, i.e. to say 'is it okay if there is NEVER a limit and it can go up to fifty'. I wanted your opinion (since you seem to have the strongest support for parental support after 18), but didn't mean to make it seem as though I was taking a personal dig at you, since that was far from my intention.

I guess that I just think it's impossible to establish a system that would be 'unabusable', particularly without an age limit. By making a sort of welfare system, kids with medical disabilities would then be supported by their parents, under legal ramifications, indefinitely. This could mean until the parent was well into their own retirement, in theory. Since that is untenable for most families once they hit retirement age (if not long before, since they have their own savings to account for), we have a welfare system that already exists. I believe that if a child is unable to secure a job at 18 (and I agree - I think many people continue to live with their families at that point, though the family should not be FORCED to have them live there) then they can go on the already-existing welfare system.

I think that without an age cutoff you run the risk of having kids indefinitely take money from their parents, even after the parents hit a point where they are no longer in their prime or producing as much money as they used to. I could see extending the legal age to 22, theoretically, but one of the reasons we use 18 as an age is because it is the age at which you are able to do pretty much everything but drink. This isn't to say that I think our welfare system is flawless, or that people don't get screwed over by it - but I think that you would hear even MORE of those stores if you were to implement a system where parents were forced to care for their children indefinitely.

The only way I could see a system like that working would be with some series of regulations stating that the child was required to get a minimum-wage job if no others were available, that they weren't allowed to take their parent's money because they didn't want to work available jobs (not saying that this happens all the time, but a rule like that would prevent abuse), and that medical disabilities were supportable for a certain period but not for a whole lifetime, and at some point if the disability was permanent the child would have to move onto governmental support. Generally, though, I think that 18 years is a fair amount of years to provide financial support.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 05:49:16 AM by Sho »

Offline Bloodied Porcelain

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2014, 08:49:33 AM »
I've been setting money aside in a savings account for my son's college, but I do not feel obligated to put that money in to his college regardless of the circumstances. He's going to have to show me he is willing to work for it. IE: I will pay his tuition and help out with expenses, but it will be on him to get a job while he's going to school to take care of things like food. I'm only saving up for his college tuition because I know how god-awful expensive it is. I will not be paying for his cost of living, that's not my job at that point, 18 is more than old enough to handle things like that (If he's attending school close to home, he's welcome to live with me, but he will pay in a small amount every month from his wages that will go toward his food, electricity, etc).

That said... if he hits his senior year of highschool and hasn't bothered to take college seriously (by keeping his grades up, applying for serious schools, etc), all that money will be going in to my retirement fund and he will be out on his own. It's a hard ass approach, but it's the way things will be in my home. I think each home is and should be different. I was out of my parent's home at 17 and have been entirely on my own since then, meanwhile my sister lives between her apartment near her school and my parent's home when she's on break and they cover most of her expenses and school loans and the like. She's now in her senior year of college and is actually due to graduate next month, so it's even varied within families based on the child in question.

When you're 18, you're an adult. You should act like one and be treated like one. Asking for anything more than that, barring severe handicap that makes it impossible for you to ever cope or behave as an adult, is in my opinion selfish and self-entitled.

Is it nice when parents are willing to help you out beyond your 18th birthday? Sure. But should they have to? No. I didn't expect my parents to support me (and in fact their help since then even when I was in circumstances beyond my control that shafted me financially and the like such as downsizing at work and being laid off for 10 months was limited and had to be asked for and paid back ASAP) and I don't expect to have to support my son when he's an adult.

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2014, 11:31:25 AM »
Sho, I didn't find your post offensive and my apologies if my response seemed that way.

I think a basic summary of my views is likely that there should be a sort of "raise" on the number period. I also feel like those beginning stages after 18 are new and difficult to navigate. I just feel like parents should make sure their descendants have food to eat and a bed to sleep in (and that's IT, no paying for college etc) until they do successfully know how to live independently and not before. The only other duty that parents would have at that time would be to help their kids get an apartment or get a job, if that help is necessary, and if their child is in a situation, like medical, that they need support for longer than parents can provide, then they help with that.

I don't think there's a great system to use for it, but all the systems are fucked up regardless.

I guess I would appreciate a shift in societal perspective even more than legal ramifications, but I would just also like some... Results-encouraged method of bustling kids out the door. I hate that parents can wash their hands of their children and say "Well you're 18 now and even though I did a shit job raising you it's your fault your disadvantaged."

I realize that my stance is very biased and extreme and I'm not actually opinionated about the creation of a legal obligation; I just hope my perspective brings a scenario to light that people don't remember. Minorities exist and are often overlooked.

and if anyone else ever tells me "well you're an adult you should be able--" I'm sure you guys won't be seeing me around anymore.

Sorry for the awful formatting of my posts though, I'm on my phone.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2014, 12:15:29 PM »
No. Parents should not be legally required to support their children after they attain the age of majority. Sorry - I did my job for eighteen years - a job that also consisted of teaching them that at that age they would be responsible for themselves. I have no issue allowing my children to stay so they are not homeless - however, they had better work or be in school (or both).  I’ve seen first hand what happens when parents continue to support their adult child and do not set expectations of any sort. Lazy, ungrateful children who expect everything handed to them and seem to have no desire to move on and get their own place.

Offline ValthazarTopic starter

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2014, 12:31:43 PM »
I think a basic summary of my views is likely that there should be a sort of "raise" on the number period. I also feel like those beginning stages after 18 are new and difficult to navigate. I just feel like parents should make sure their descendants have food to eat and a bed to sleep in (and that's IT, no paying for college etc) until they do successfully know how to live independently and not before.

There's a difference between a parent wanting to make sure their adult children are well-fed and taken care of out of the goodness of their heart, versus making it a legal obligation.

Suggesting that a parent MUST help their adult child pay for an apartment and help find a job is different from suggesting that it would be helpful.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2014, 12:43:27 PM »
I work with a friend of mine who is on the edge of filing for bankruptcy because she has spent all of her savings and then some to try and keep her son - who is 23 - in an apartment, fed, clothed, his car insured and gas in that car’s tank. On top of her own monthly bills. Her son works - it’s not what you would call a “good” job, but it pays decent enough that he should be able to tend to his bills on his own if he were to get a roommate. Problem? He still views it that his mother is responsible for him. He blows his money on what he wants and when rent can’t be paid (it should be noted she paid the deposit and first month’s rent on the promise that he’d get a roommate and not need her help again) she’s the one he calls. I’ve personally seen him blow 900 dollars on a new rifle instead of paying his own bills or giving his mother much needed money. And when she tells him she simply cannot do anymore? He throws fits, tells her how depressed he is and that he’ll just kill himself, that she doesn’t really care about him, etc. And she folds every single time.

Personally, I believe in tough love and it is what I have used with my kids. I love them to death, I will always be there for them should they truly need help. But I raised them to become self sufficient. If they stay with me, they better be in school and/or working. My job as provider and caretaker ended the moment they turned 18. My job as cheerleader and emotionally supporter will remain till the day I die.

Offline Paladin101

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2014, 11:37:18 PM »
I think 18 is a sufficient number. I don't think parents should be required by law to be fiscally responsible for their kids. Once you are an adult, it is your responsibility to support yourself.

That said, in a good family, you will have a support system, and people to help you. And if you don't, well that's when you look at social services that can help you get by until you are fully able to support yourself.

For myself, I was raised by a father who spent my whole life telling me I was incapable of doing anything. And a mother who spent her whole life preparing me for reality, and eventually getting me away from my father, aside from my visits. I say this to make clear that, my life wasn't peachy keen. But my mother raised me to acknowledge the concept of responsibilities, the need to be employed, and that the world in general, really doesn't give a shit about how I feel. May sound harsh, but it prepared me for the reality of life, and she has always been there to help hold me up if I stumble, my whole family has. We have been each other's safety net, every month it seems one of us is borrowing money to someone else in the family to help them get by a rough patch.

But I don't think parents should be responsible to support their kids. Once you're an adult, you're an adult, end of story. To my opinion.

Offline meikle

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2014, 01:25:53 AM »
There is a real, meaningful impact I think on the opportunity of people who have parental support going into their twenties compared to those who are cut loose at 18, especially considering the nature of our current economic situation & and the changing format of life in the United States (ie, we're increasingly a world where 15-17 years of education is becoming the norm rather than 13, or earlier in our history much less.)  Most jobs available to high school students just leaving school are going to be poverty-level, minimum-wage jobs (the fastest job growth in the US after the medical field is the service sector, after all.)  Putting a distance between parental support and competency to join the job market (ie, because there is not demand in well-paying jobs or careers for recent graduates with no education or work experience) leads new adults to pursue education even at the cost of debt -- not because the education is beneficial or necessary in some cases, but because education is becoming so pervasive that lacking it is seen as a detriment rather than having it being seen as a benefit.

If we continue on this path, I do not think it would be unreasonable to decide that parental obligation extends deeper than the year that their child graduates from high school.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2014, 01:27:33 AM by meikle »

Offline HDWalker

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2014, 08:58:52 AM »
Supporting your kids when they are adult should not be legally required.

That said, which is the adult age? My girls are 17 and 19 but they are massively different. The 19 year old goofs around and is less serious about stuff than her younger sister.

Age doesn't mean anything with kids so I think every parent should decide when to stop legally supporting their kids.
I might live in a yoghurt commercial but I feel privileged in a way to 'support' my girls. They still live at home, I still buy them things they want or need sometimes but because I know they can be self providing if they have to.

My youngest wants to go to university soon and if she wants me to, I'll gladly pay but I would want her to either study very hard and get straight A's or get a small job on the side.

This is the financial aspect. You're a parent for as long as you (or in tragic cases, your child) live. I feel it's your duty to always be there for your child, no matter how old he or she is. If they make the wrong choices over and over again, there comes a point where you have to let go but just because your kid is 'adult' that doesn't mean you stop being a parent.

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2014, 12:14:39 PM »
I'm still just wanting to reiterate and clarify what everybody actually means when they say "financially support." I've already said my piece, which I acknowledge is biased on the extreme side (big wonder that the girl who is not capable of supporting herself at 18 in great part due to failure and even cruelty on her parent's part claims legal obligation should go beyond 18, and those who were capable of getting by at that age or earlier without ending up in the hospital or worse claim that "adult is adult"—I'm not saying either of us are right, but that the same bias exists). But I also feel others are talking "extremes" in regards to the laziness of children.

When I say financially support, I say that a parent is only, only obligated to make sure their child has food and shelter until they become financially stable themselves (within a certain time-frame extending past 18, and not "forever"). This is incentive for parents to become involved in the process of actually teaching their children how to get by in the adult world; meaning parents helping their children to fill out applications, make a resume, etc. If their child cannot get a job, then that assistance entails applying for aid, etc. No paying for college (unless they want to), no paying for fancy clothing or smartphones or computers or even internet or cable.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2014, 01:29:50 PM »
It is a parent’s job to be teaching those lessons before the child turns eighteen. And while you say it should only extend to a roof over the head and food in the belly, who would pay for medical care? Clothing? Transportation?

And I know for a fact that schools, at the least the one my children went to, had classes on how to write a resume, fill out job applications, and prepare for interviews. It was a required one semester class that all students had to take.

I am sorry. I understand where you are coming from because of your situation, but I cannot agree. At some point a child has to learn to stand on their own two feet, and no child is going to do it so long as mom and dad are there to support them.

Offline ValthazarTopic starter

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2014, 01:33:20 PM »
Most jobs available to high school students just leaving school are going to be poverty-level, minimum-wage jobs (the fastest job growth in the US after the medical field is the service sector, after all.) 

My point is that coddling kids so they don't have to do poverty-level, minimum-wage jobs is actually hurting them in the long-run.  I used to work 3 minimum wage jobs like this, while taking 2 undergrad courses per term (because that was all I could afford).  It was a real struggle, and I was legitimately concerned about the future, but I made it through, and it taught me a lot of important lessons.

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Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2014, 01:41:32 PM »
I'm with I.O. on this. I'm still in counceling to learn to cope and handle a lot of issues that should have been identified and treated when I was under 18 but my parents brushed off and explained away as me just being a "rebel" and "trying to get attention" because I had three significantly younger siblings I was "jealous" of. I do not expect my parents (nor would I ask) to help pay for my sessions with a therapist, or my medications or hospitalization time when I need it. It's hard, and it sucks, but I pay it off on my own. Sometimes that means going without food for a day or two. Sometimes that means the rent is late by a week. But it is what it is. Why? Because it's my responsibility. They're my issues. Not my parent's.

Offline roulette

Re: Legal Obligation to Support Kids Over 18
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 01:46:05 PM »
I am sorry. I understand where you are coming from because of your situation, but I cannot agree. At some point a child has to learn to stand on their own two feet, and no child is going to do it so long as mom and dad are there to support them.

Yes, because of course there is no child in the world who actually wants to live their own life. That's such an absurd notion.

The point I'm making is that parents should be obligated to make sure their children don't starve on the streets or end up in the hospital or prison for avoidable reasons. I'm not talking about running their lives for them.

"If a parent helps their kid search for, apply, and get a job, that kid will never learn how to search for, apply, and get a job himself! The only reason he's even working those hours is because his parents supported him through the process of supporting himself! He'll never grow up!" <--- that doesn't make sense to me.

If parents teach their kids to take care of themselves before their 18, then those parents are off the hook. But when they don't, as mine didn't, I don't see why it's the kids themselves who have to keep getting slapped in the face with "Why are you over 18 and you don't know this? You're so lazy; you're so stupid; you're an adult, you should be able to do this."

I don't understand why a birthday makes the parents suddenly unaccountable for the person they've made and released into the world.

My point is that coddling kids so they don't have to do poverty-level, minimum-wage jobs is actually hurting them in the long-run.  I used to work 3 minimum wage jobs like this, while taking 2 undergrad courses per term (because that was all I could afford).  It was a real struggle, and I was legitimately concerned about the future, but I made it through, and it taught me a lot of important lessons.

Congratulations. Good on you. I agree; kids should do poverty-level work if its available, or otherwise they are not eligible for that support from their parents. If for some reason you dropped your classes and were still unable to afford rent and food, or if the stress of working 60+ hours a week (minus school, because I'm assuming school is a luxury) was too much for you, I would have expected your parents to help you eat, not buy you a fancy new car or let you loaf around the house.



EDIT: I do not mean to be hostile or disrespectful to anyone, and I am not personally offended by anything anyone has said. I'm sorry if my tone and interspersed sarcasm may make it seem as such. That is all.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2014, 01:49:56 PM by roulette »