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When Giving Leads to Resentment

In wrestling with a number of feelings surrounding giving and resentment, I share my thoughts here with hope that doing so might be cathartic for me and perhaps others who might stumble upon this post and feel that they are not alone.

My parents immigrated to Canada from Korea in 1971, two years before I was born. Details are fuzzy, but my understanding is that my father decided to explore prospects of a better life outside of the Korean Air Force, and word from his brother who had already emigrated to Canada was that it was a fine place to start anew.

So my father left my mom and older sister who was just six months old to begin a six-month stay in Toronto. Though he had a Bachelor's degree in English, my father ended up working double shifts frying up Fish and Chips for $1.50 per hour to cover his living costs, crying himself to sleep most nights believing that he had made a mistake in leaving Korea.

When he made the call back home to let my mom know that Canada was not the place for them, and that he would return shortly, my maternal grandfather decided that my father's judgment was clouded by loneliness, and since Canada was considered a peaceful land in which to raise one's family, my grandfather packed my mom and baby sister up and had them on the next flight to Toronto. That was the decision that led to my siblings and many younger cousins who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area to become second generation Korean Canadians.

After short stints doing factory and secretarial work, like many Korean immigrants, my parents decided that they wanted to have more control over their livelihood, so they operated a gas station until they saved enough money to open up a small variety store. December 9, 1982 was the day when we opened the doors to our nickel and dime shop where we sold milk, juice, kit kats, cigarettes, magazines, lottery tickets, Hallmark greeting cards, and an assortment of household consumables like detergent and odd collectibles like giant ceramic piggy banks.

I was 9 when we opened Family Variety in Bolton, Ontario, and for the next several years, life was good. To this day, I fondly recall jumping on my bicycle to get to the store early on Saturday mornings to put advertisement inserts into the Toronto Star newspaper. Once all the papers were stacked, my father would give me some change which I would use to purchase 4 freshly made chocolate dip donuts from the bakery just a few stores down - they were still hot, fresh out of the fryer with warm chocolate icing melting on top as we gobbled them down, 2 each. Yup, those were the days!

By disposition or perhaps by choice, my father is more of a scholar than he is someone who likes to roll up his sleeves, chop wood, and carry water. The old Asian adage that says don't open up a business if you don't want to smile? Let's just say that my parents didn't foresee how miserable my father would be standing behind a counter selling and bagging stuff for the general public. This existence hurt his sense of self, so he didn't win a lot of love from our patrons.

My mom did all she could to keep the store going, but in realizing what the inevitable outcome would be, she and my father decided that it was his calling to go to Theological Seminary and become a pastor. Being quite devout with Christianity, my father was already an active elder at our church, and being relatively well known among the Korean population in Toronto, starting his own church looked like a good life choice.

The transition created significant financial hardship for our family. When the store was history and we were in full flight as a pastor's family, we lived on a modest income from the church. More often than not, as a university student, I was lucky to have twenty dollars in my wallet for food and subway tokens. Rather than purchase textbooks, I mostly photocopied what I needed. I paid for tuition and other essential expenses with student loans, and when I went to chiropractic school in the States, it was with more student loans, a roster of several personal credit cards, and on-campus work.

Through those lean years, I dreamed of being able to provide for my family. It was my obsession to earn enough money to clear my parents of their debts and ensure their comfort and security.

Upon graduating, I decided to move to the San Francisco Bay area to begin my career. My parents joined me in my trusty honda civic to make the 5-day journey from Chicago to northern California. What a memorable road trip that was - we averaged about ten hours a day and soaked up the best of Americana. At a rest stop near Amarillo, Texas, I remember my dad asking me to take a picture of him beside the public restroom with a massive field of wild grass as the backdrop. Why do you want a picture of yourself beside a washroom? Because we are in TEXAS, son! Truly, every moment of that road trip was a new experience for the three of us, with the highlight being a stop at the Grand Canyon.

After rolling into the Bay area and finding a room to rent in Berkeley, I purchased one-way tickets for them to get back to Toronto, put on one of my cards, as we simply didn't have that money, and there began my official journey to figure out how to survive with my own hands. I was 24, and my life was just beginning. Yes, I really felt like Jerry Maguire at rock bottom - slightly overwhelmed but very hopeful for the future.

Soon after beginning life in California, I found a post for a chiropractor wanted in rural Alaska. It was a unique opportunity to run a clinic on my own, help a lot of people who really appreciated the care, and earn enough to fulfill part of my dream to change the financial momentum of my family's life. I earned more per year in Alaska than I have made in any year since as a chiropractor. Within two years, I was able to pay back all of my student loans, credit cards, clear out my parents' debts, and even take a solid chunk out of my older sister's mortgage as a thank you for making my first student loan payment when I was fresh out of school. It was a huge sense of fulfillment - those were big goals for me as a young fellow, and to knock them out within two years brought me great happiness.

My parents were extremely grateful and proud, of course. But I knew that it was just the beginning. I wanted to give them much more.

Though my parents have lived in Canada for more than 40 years now, they still walk with the same core values that were created during their first three decades of life in Korea. They were a part of a generation that was blessed to survive the Korean war and was faced with the task of figuring out how to survive in a country that had to rebuild from massive mountains of rubble and political chaos.

For centuries, Korean culture has been largely son-centric, meaning that parents have long viewed the firstborn son of a family as the one who they can rely on to take care of their needs - financial and otherwise - when they are older. Given this obligatory duty, the firstborn son has long been favoured to some degree over other siblings - for example, firstborn sons would traditionally sit and eat dinner with the father, and the mother and remaining children would eat after. This has changed with the current generation, both in Korea and with Koreans living abroad, but the mindset of expecting more from the firstborn son is still strong in many Koreans, including my parents.

Let me be clear in writing that I feel extremely blessed to be helpful to my parents. There is nothing that I find more fulfilling in life than giving to others, especially my parents. My soul is saturated with memories of the many ways that they have shown me their love over the years. Like the time when I was trying to make it out west and my father, on his way from Korea to Toronto, stopped by the San Francisco airport and gave me five hundred dollars - it was all he had left from his trip to publish a book in Korea, and though he needed it as much as I did, he gave it to me. That day when they drove 8 hours from Toronto to Chicago to bring me a cooler full of frozen food that my mom prepared so that my transition from a dormitory room to off-campus housing would be a bit easier. Buying me and my older sister our first cars with the little savings that they had left when they transitioned from the variety store to building a church. My mom coming to stay with us for several months to help when our first son was born. The memories are endless. And the bottom line is this: I know that my parents deeply love and care about me, my sisters and now their grandchildren.

And yet, there are times when I feel resentment. I think I have identified the source of my intermittent pain as the sadness of wondering if part of my value to my parents is what I do to support them financially. Again, I am grateful to be a blessing to them, and I want to continue to do all I can to make their lives more comfortable in the years ahead. But I do feel some sadness and resentment at times and struggle with figuring out if I am being petty, even though I have identified my feelings about my value to them being partly tied to what I can do for them.

It's been said that life gives us the same lesson over and over until we learn it. This feels like the case with me and the relationship between giving and feeling resentful.

One of my favourite ways of injecting happiness into my day is to cover the bill of someone behind me at a drive-thru. This type of giving never causes me to feel resentful, which tells me that giving is best done anonymously. When I give anonymously, the act is pure and simple, with the only reward for me being a feeling of happiness that comes from wondering if I have brightened a stranger's day.

Can I think of situations where I have been giving without anonymity and still felt good about it? Absolutely, and in discussing this at length with Margaret, we've realized that giving is enjoyable unless the recipient shows that they are not grateful or that they expect more to come. As Margaret put it, it's like you have a basket and it feels really good to gift things out from your basket, but when someone reaches into your basket to take something without you offering, you feel violated - you want to give of your own accord; you don't want to feel like someone is taking advantage of you.

We all have our reasons for being giving. I remember me and my dad going to lunch with another father and his two sons during a baseball tournament when I was no more than 10 years old, and when the bill came, my father took care of it without hesitation. I was surprised and remember thinking that was unfair, since we had just met them and there were three of them and only two of us. I remember the other father looking very surprised but saying thank you very much, and my father being gracious in saying it was his pleasure. That moment may have sparked my desire to be a giving person.

My mother told us several times throughout our childhood that in Korea, you always give your first pay check from a new job to your parents to show them respect and gratitude for all they have done. She has also told me throughout my adulthood that any mistreatment that they encounter at the hands of those who don't mind taking advantage doesn't matter because I am their pillar, the one that they can lean on. And over the years, my father has been loud and clear in crucifying others who have not taken care of their aging parents. I'm sure that my desire to support my parents has been shaped by these thoughts and experiences.

With my parents, I believe I have to reconcile intermittent feelings of sadness about my value to them being partly tied to what I can do for them with the awareness that they have made me feel loved to the best of their capacity throughout my life. They grew up in a culture that taught them that their firstborn son would one day be the one to take care of them, and I need to continue to work at being grateful that I am able to fulfill this duty. I accept occasional bouts of resentment as moments of my own frailty and I remain indescribably grateful for all that they did for me in earlier years.

With being a giver outside of one's family, I wonder if it is better to continue to give freely and generously and work at not being let down and disappointed when people are ungrateful or begin to take advantage, or if it is better to lean towards just being an anonymous giver. I would appreciate any commentary that others might have on this issue - there is a comments section below in the article tools box for sharing.

One uplifting aspect of struggling through this issue is that my radar has become more honed to recognize people who are incredibly thoughtful, giving, and would rather punch themselves in the face than knowingly take advantage of others. The funny thing is that when you encounter such people, you want to give them the world, but they would never take it from you. Yes, Alanis, life can definitely be ironic.

I bring this stream of relatively unfiltered thoughts to a close by raising my goblet to those who don't take advantage, and those who have gotten to a place in their lives where they can give in any circumstances without resentment.

 
 

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Comments

After so many years away from Korea, I am surprised that some of the ideas of Canada and the U.S. haven't been thought about by your parents. They live in a world they left in 1971. I can see where you might wonder if 100% financial support (expected,no less), is still appropriate. We all need to continue to adapt and change to the times. Personally, I would feel terrible if my son had to financially support me at all (I am a retired, long-divorced mom). I am proud of my hard won financial independence and it's difficult for me to understand people who LIKE being dependent on someone for their existence. You are a thoughtful and gracious son to accept all your parents ideals from a country you didn't grow up in.

I salute to you Dr. Kim for opening up and exposing your deep inner feelings.
From the wise I have learnt that giving is NEVER about the other person, its about us and how we grow as we do this.
I agree, people taking can be very annoying; perhaps they feel a real belonging towards you and feel they can because you are one or perhaps plain greedy!
I love your posts. You are doing a huge service-asking for nothing in return. You are blessed. Sending you and your family lots of love and blessings. Uma

Thank you so much for your continued open and honest comments, particularly those you willingly share about your personal experiences. I did not read all the other comments but relate to and completely agree with the one written by J. There can be great pleasure in giving, but somehow the pleasure is usually not felt when the person you give to has an expectation of your giving. I personally can not overcome the resentment that I feel when that expectation exists.

Your resentment towards providing full financial responsibility for your parents is understandable. In a country and culture that promotes fierce, competitive independence and success one can begin to feel drained. It appears that your parents have struggled to assimilate into an environment very different from their own. Their culture is their identity. To assimilate into Canadian life is a tearing away of their identities. And for many, one's identity initiates the purpose of life. Try to step away from your angst and resentment by recognizing you are perhaps, the last vestige of their Korean culture, and you can be proud of helping your parents to keep it alive.

I can understand the feeling of resentment that can underlie even our freest giving, especially where some level of "expectedness" is present. And I can admire Dr Kim for owning up to it. In my case it is not a matter of financial giving (my parents were well provided for financially) but a slight feeling of frustration that an arrangement entered into freely almost 20 years ago has turned out to rob me of Christmas traditions with my own adult children and their offspring. For we agreed that our contribution to the Christmas season of my many siblings living closer to my parents and taking care of their needs on a regular basis would be that I would go home and be the granny-sitter during the holiday season. Mum has been gone for some years now, but dad's need is even greater, and so I continue make the winter journey...
But to Elizabeth I would like to say, never having lived on your side of the Atlantic, that the Koreans are not the only people to feel a duty to help their parents - and indeed unmarried aunts and uncles too - as they grow older and less independent either physically or financially. We may not have asked to be born, but being in this world and having benefited from the care and nourishment of the preceding generation should lead to reciprocating the love which we have received. And when they are not around, to sharing that love and concern with others who need it. And bring joy to all concerned when tactfully handled.
Which brings me to another form of resentment which I have also observed, and that is the resentment of those who seem to be constantly need of rescue of one kind or another. No matter how hard one tries to be tactful in giving, that can raise its ugly head from time to time. Is it born of a sense of inferiority? Of envy? Of a dislike of being beholden to others? Who can tell? Here is where it can be hard to be a giver until the resentment goes away, and indeed, here is where we have to beware of co-dependency. But overall, to be able to show Christian love in practical ways brings joy in the long run, and I am so grateful to have learned that in my life. Unfortunately, too much exposure to marketing values seems to be weakening the general perception of the joy that can come from sharing in other parts of the world as well. A shame, for God loves a cheerful giver.
In passing I would like to say that even among those who are highly dependent due to illness or accident, giving is still possible and is a great help to the giver in their own suffering. I have recently observed this in a friend who is almost completely paralysed: she often feels neglected in the home to which she is confined, but in the last few weeks has taken to ensuring that her neighbour actually gets fed when she is unable to go down to the dining room for meals. And with this her own mood has lightened and the air of bitterness which those of us visiting her had found so difficult to take has been much attenuated. This is something also frequently attested by members of the Frater, a Christian movement of invalids and the chronically ill whose aim in life is to help others no matter how difficult their own lives may be. May the movement continue to grow and reach all areas of the world!

Hi! Didn't know how to post a comment other than by replying to someone else's--so here goes:

First of all, thank you for sharing part of your spiritual journey. I am so grateful to have found your newsletter some years ago. I really enjoy it.

I think it's great that you have the insight to have discovered where your resentment comes from. That was going to be my first question. My answer to the question you posed is this: It is better to continue to give freely and generously and work at not being let down and disappointed when people are ungrateful or begin to take advantage. My cousin told me years ago: "Don't do things expecting a certain result/response, do it because it's the right thing to do." I have found that advice to be so helpful. When you act without expectation, you relieve yourself of the experience of getting the "wrong" answer. Whenever I speak with someone who has questioned helping someone, I try to help them identify their motive(s) for helping: Do you just want to be loved? Did you learn somewhere along the line that your "position"/value depends upon how "useful" you are, so you continue to act out being useful? Are you trying to be loved because this is the only way you know how to be loved?

It is difficult sometimes dealing with "tradition." (I like using quotes.) We want to be respectful, but sometimes tradition is dysfunctional and creates resentment. Then you think: "Is it worth it to even have the discussion with my elders about how they have hurt/confused me?" Or should I just continue to give/live with the status quo? Would a discussion/change upset the balance of things? Would they even understand? I don't know . . . I guess one has to decide what you are willing to live with.

But definitely, I think you should just learn how to give without respect to how the receiver's respond.

Thank you again for sharing.

I commend you for the care you have given your parents, it is a rarity to see that level of giving in society today, especially here in North America. We seem in the USA to be an "instant gratification nation" and many don't take thought of the lives of others who need help and care but only run to fulfilling their consumer addiction.

From a biblical standpoint you are to give in private to help those you feel driven to help and you don't tell others who or what you have done. God and you are the only ones that know. Random acts of giving and kindness makes me glow on the inside.

I believe we should all, as funds allow give to our hearts content to those in need. I believe we could ease much suffering on this planet if we all did so.

Give a hand up, not a hand out :)

Peace and blessings to you and your family Dr. Kim.

Perhaps your resentment is because you were moved from one culture to another and this has left you with mixed feelings. Then again it might be that you feel trapped. That it is expected of you no matter what.
The giving to unknown persons is simply the ego wanting to feel good and maybe compensation unconsciousy for the cionditional giving.#Overall I would say you do owe a lot to your family and maybe this also is part of your resentment.
I used to get these feelings but I started to tell myself that "The Lord loves a cheerful giver" and I no longer have the problem
Kind regards
I enjoy your articles by the way and they are so rooted in common sense.

Suffice to say I generally think if you feel you've been cheated there is a good chance you are. Most people, but not all, feel not so great about being cheated. Reconciling with that fact is difficult and non-ideal for many and they aren't exactly jumping to say "look something great happened, I was cheated!" and more often slump into some shame. I don't mean to generalize. Some people relish in it, feeling entitled but that's another response. Frankly speaking the fact that your concern was not about whether you're being good enough to your parents and but about being "petty" indicates to me that you sense pettiness is there but may not be ready to face where it's coming from. I'm not a therapist but you may find it helpful to get a support network of good quality friends you can trust and discuss the details of both what is going on with your perspective on this, grapple with a source of struggle, and find ways to manage your dynamic with your parents, including setting and enforce clear boundaries on what is okay and not okay. Nobody needs to feel violated; but it does happen. It's a very human thing to violate and be violated, that went on for thousands of years and still happens today on many levels. Playing on the basket analogy, even a market place that sells fruit is wrought with security guards, in a bordered shopping centre, in a city enforced by police with a national legal system created in a capitalist society, governed largely by military. We're not always lucky to have the ability to enforce and realize our boundaries in our individual situation; when we are, they generally are a good thing for us. When they are not, they are things we can work towards, almost like a new job. In the case of giving too much money away there are lots of ways to aspire to set limits on what is acceptable as a dynamic between parents and adult descendants without eroding on other helpful dynamics that may exist within that family structure. Isn't that what we all want in the end?
My two cents, all from my pitiful existence.

Dr. Kim,
Your article was just what I needed today. While I am not an oldest son, but one of 3 siblings I relate to your obligation and your feelings. You have also helped me to feel more gratitude, as my parents have been very generous with their giving and though my father is gone, my mother remains. At 97 she still lives in her home but needs help with her finances, going to appointments and various commitments. While all 3 siblings contribute time and effort it is not always equal, nor has it been. I feel the resentment not toward my mother but toward the brother who seems so willing to take advantage and let the other 2 carry the bulk of the responsibility even though he has little to no obligations of his own. I find that prayer and doing energy work (EFT) on this issue helps me to release the resentment and feel better about myself because I know how fortunate I am to have had both of my parents for so many years and to have had their support for so long. Therefore, besides the resentment, there is always the feeling that I am a bad person for feeling resentful etc etc. That's my input and I appreciate you being so candid about your feelings. It always helps to know that others have similar feelings and to know how they deal with them.

I feel giving either annonomusly or not can give you a great feeling. Those that take advantage of you wont do so twice cause you have your guard up, but you still helped them in a way no one else did and you should feel proud for doing what you can no matter how small or large. It's the thought that counts. My Mom taught me that and I taught my children the same. That you even thought of them is a blessing.

Dear Dr Kim,
Your sentiment is not uncommon...so don't feel guilty.
If your parents are still mobile and in good health perhaps you could get them engaged in your business to the extent that you consider acceptable.
The harder work comes later when they become immobile and require a lot more of your time. You have to make the decision now that taking care of your parents is much harder than caring for your parents. Explore with them the idea of moving into a retirement home before they become incapacitated. Otherwise, you will age very quickly and end up even more resentful.

It seems to me every family has one member who is the "caregiver," either financially or physically. I am that person in my family, for my own generation (my husband and my sister), my son's generation, and my father's generation. My father lived with me and my husband for a year or so before he died. He expected to be waited on and paid a set amount of room and board each month regardless of expenses. Resentment was rising up in me for sure. I spoke to my pastor about it and he said to sit with my father and tell him I am his daughter not his servant. I never got the nerve to do it. Dad has been gone for almost 4 years now and the resentment feelings are gone and now I miss his screwball sense of humor and his intelligent conversations (even though his last few months these things did not exist.) Good luck and God bless.

The gift is in the giving !!!

Hi Dr Kim,
I appreciate your honesty in this article. I think it'll strike a chord with many people. I think your resentment may come from the fact that you are not free at all in what you give to your parents. There is an expectation, a preordained prerequisite, due to your birth order, that your priviledged position as first born son, comes with costs. You'll never know the pleasure of giving to your parents from a purely selfless place, with no strings attached, because you've been denied that right. You have been denied a basic human right, that of determining your own behaviour. You can never give to your parents without the presumption that it is your duty. You can never give enough because everything you give is in some way your duty and expected. Further, you're being asked to carry the omissions of others. A heavy burden indeed. In some ways your parents aren't being grown up and looking after themselves, which would allow you to be who you are. They are leaning on you and saying, "You look after us!" I think I'd feel resentful too. The only way would be for your parents to recind all expectations, then you would be free to give as an independant individual. (If this feels far from your truth, please forgive me. It was just what came to mind when I read your blog.)
Kind regards
J

Giving is truly an odd thing! I share many of your feelings about it. My parents, though with no ethnic background as your family suffers some of the same conditions. I was actually relieved to see someone else feeling these things and speak out-loud the thoughts I have often felt. I love to give and am always confused at the reactions of those given to. We bought tires for my husband's son and wife. They agreed to pay it back as a loan. The son worked off most of it. My husband is an excavator and sometimes has jobs over in the "big city" where they live. One time the wife sent us $50, about a small amount remains on the total. He stayed with them one trip over there, but no meals were provided, though when they have come to our home they have sometimes have stayed days and eaten well and never offer to help with anything involving food prep or cleanup. We were estranged from them for awhile as they have drug problems and he actually dropped off the face of the earth for about a year, during which time she gave birth to their 2nd child. Now that we have started communicating again, one of her first comments by social media message was that they really want to come see us, but since there is not a a working transmission in their van it will have to be postponed. A very strong hint and actually holding a baby grandchild as hostage we feel, since we have never seen this 2nd grandchild. We wish them well, but think maybe they have to fight their own battles and help would be enabling? Confusion and resentment, for sure!

Givers need to set boundaries as takers never do....remember that...

Thank you for such an honest, open post today. I thought it was a Good read and very insightful. Dr. Kim, are you a Christian? From your post, it appears your Dad is. I am a believer in Christ, and know that only my years of studying the Bible and encouragement from the Body of Christ community I'm in has helped me seen such self-reflection as you have written about here today.

I always enjoy your articles, dr. I have abreast issue with resentment after gifting myself. I am sure it is my personal problem to work out, but it bothers me when close friends and family can accept gifts, and NEVER say any word of appreciation. they can be happy about the gift, or LOVE the gift, but either of those feelings show gratefulness. It's just rude for one to accept a gift with no thought to let the sender know it has been received, but to not do that, or say a thank you, is not acceptable. I don't gift in order for the thanks, but I gift lovingly & thoughtfully, and when I don't receive a thank you, I get upset and feel unappreciated. I think it is easier to anonymously give, bc you can imagine it'll make someone's day and there are no emotional ties, so you can't feel bad for not getting a thank you. You do it for the recipient, and that ends it. You still get to feel good about shining light on a stranger.

I am asian and was brought up with the same culture and expectation not korean.Your emotional predicament is not unique to you alone. It is the same feeling of obligation that we owe our parents for what we are. As I grow older 72 now and having children and grandchildren of my own I find that I should have done more than I ever did.
And giving anonymously ,I agree is more fulfilling.I am an immigrant and lots of people helped me when I first came w/ no expectation of return.I try my best to give the same to others now . I feel that it is the expression of my gratitude to those who have helped me in the past is in turn to help others now as well.

I love your comment! I am 43 and was born in the USA and am not asian. My commitment to giving back and/or paying forward grows almost daily. I try to quickly get over those who are just out to feed off our hard work with little contribution so I can get back to helping those who need it. I had an extremely abusive mother who wore down all appreciation I had for her existence. That is still an unresolved issue in me but otherwise it feels normal to be connected to others.

I think true generosity is giving what is needed. And when you know you are helping someone who needs helps, it is easy to give. Like buying a mosquito net for $10 to save the life of a child, or donating money for a well in Africa, or closer to home, helping a friend in need.
A Buddhist teacher I know said it is better to give money than to lend it, because if you lend a friend money and they don't pay you back, then not only do you lose the money, but you lose the friend as well.
It can also be easy to confuse generosity with an ego boost. I refer to the kind of giving where you are giving to someone to satisfy a need that you have. You might want to appear generous to others, or to yourself. This kind of confusion will definitely create resentment, I think.
One final comment is that for those who believe in cause and effect, seed and result, it is easier to give because you know that you are ultimately benefiting yourself because you are establishing the future causes for your own happiness.

Dear Dr. Kim
When I give because a family member has asked, I do it out of duty.
When I give from my heart because no lone has asked in my family or
otherwise, I feel happy that I am giving. There is mo remorse, or
strings attached. I do not feel the person has to return anything
not even a thank you, because I gave out of my own free will, voluntarily
because I love to give. There is a difference, if giving is out of duty or
out of unconditional love and caring.
If my son asks me for money and does not return it as promised, then I may
feel resentment.

I also have learned over time to give - not lend - that way I give only what I can and with no expectation of return, and I keep my friend. Rarely am I ask to lend a second time to the same person.

Hi Ben,

Your thoughtfulness with issues of the heart is to be commended. If we all took time to be so thoughtful, we would be 99% of the way to fixing the worlds problems.

My responses are immediate, but thought out.

My first response is that we, as people, as a community of people, evolve through change, sometimes natural, sometimes forced. It seems to me that part of what you are experiencing is a result of culture, specifically, a piece in the Korean culture that may have begun positively, but has evolved into something that can be hurtful. It is positive to care for our elders. It is negative for our elders to raise us with this as an "obligation" rather than a gift of gratefulness. This is something that can only be taught by example, not by being shamed when it is not done.

The second response is personal ... something I deal with myself. That is self-control of my emotions. Our ability to recognize which of our emotions are reactive and less relevant and which are feelings of validity that we should listen to and strive to resolve. Sometimes this is hard work. Sometimes this is a matter of choice. The example I keep coming back to is this:

2 identical situations. In both, a husband comes home and presents flowers to his wife for no apparent reason. In one, the wife chooses to respond with gratefulness even though in the past, the husband only tended to bring home flowers when he wants something from he wife. In the other, the wife chooses to respond with resentment because in the past, the husband only tended to bring home flowers when he wants something from his wife.

Our reactions to repeating, possibly unchanging situations are our choice. One wife chose gratefulness. One chose resentment.

Your parents may never change. Their culture may be too engrained in them. But you can be different. You can raise your children to honor you so deeply that their natural response when you are old and need them will be for them to care for you. This should play out in more ways than just financially. They should care for you with meals, encouragement, frequent times together to continue their nurturing relationship with you. But, it is up to us as parents to nurture that kind of desire in them as they grow up. It needs to be a matter of the heart, not a matter of culture, especially if the culture presents it as an obligation. If you, Ben, are successful with your children, one day, when you are old, you will appreciate your parents in their "cultured" way, though someone negative, for teaching you this valuable lesson.

Remember we learn as much by not wanting to be like someone in certain ways as we do by wanting to be like them. In other words, we make the world a better place, by looking at those who were our examples, and keeping the best of them while at the same time, letting go of the worst of them.

When your parents are in demand of your caring for them, choose NOT to be resentful. They have done the best they can in the situations they were in. Choose to be grateful that you did NOT have parents of another culture where beating children is okay. Do not waste energy on resentment. Then, turn around and put your energy into a relationship with your children that will yield JOY for years to come.

As for your quote ... Hamlet.
I think you know, as evident by many of your writings, that becoming an island is not the answer. We all need each other to experience the most abundant life that we can.

Blessings to you, Ben.
Kathy

As I read through your story, I couldn't help but notice that your wise parents provided for you on many levels. You are indeed lucky to have had such parenting. Raising children can be a ridiculous act of selflessness. It is the epitome of the notion of paying it forward. I wonder if they ever once thought that they would benefit in the future? I think more likely they acted purely from love.

We all give with strings attached. It's a very enlightened being who can give from a place of absolute purity all of the time. Most of us get it right some of the time.

When I remember, I ask myself, whenever I'm about to act... What is my expectation, what is the intention here? Even simply wanting to be loved or noticed is a sign that my giving has strings attached.

I did not have a fortunate childhood experience. I was a smart child but nothing was expected of me. I was neglected in every possible way. I felt as if I was invisible. At the end of my parents life, I looked after one, then the other as they became ill and disabled because they had given me a very valuable gift. They had taught me how terrible it felt to be alone and afraid. I had learned to empathize. I had learned compassion. The strings didn't matter. I suspect that most of the time, yours don't either.

Dear Dr. Kim,
First of all I want to thank you for your tranparency. I love how "real" you are, not pompous and arrogant and full of yourself. I really respect and admire you. One thought came to mind while reading your article. Have you considered at all what role spiritual warfare plays in your feelings of resentment? After all, we do have an unseen enemy who wants to cause division in us humans, as there is power in unity. I recently finished a bible study class about the armor of God. It's not the first time I was introduced to the idea that the devil and his demons are behind the scenes putting things into our minds to try to cause strife in relationships. Not sure if this is the case for you, but gives you something to ponder.
God bless! Megan Townsend

What a mindful response Kathy, to quite the dilemma. And such courage by Dr Kim to share it wit us. Thank you both.

If you were driving from Toronto to San Francisco, how in the world did you end up in Amarillo, Texas? Did you take a wrong turn?

Thank you for so openly shating your story. I cant comment as yet as i am too deeply moved. It will take awhile to fully digest. My heart goes out to you

I grew up in a family with barely enough money to get by. After I was grown up and on my own, my own little family wasn't much better off. After my children were older, we finally had enough to give a little. Unfortunately, my father passed away quite young and was gone by then. But my mother lived on and provided for my autistic brother on her meager Social Security. My older brother and I (first two of six children) would stop at Mom's and take her out to eat or bring her something that we knew she needed. My younger siblings borrowed money from Mom, never to be repaid. I used to feel resentment that we were giving things to her and the siblings were taking from her. She was always grateful for whatever we did for her and scolded us for "Wasting money on an old lady". After she passed, we realized that the good feeling we had about giving to and not taking from our mother was repayment enough. And it was something the siblings would never feel. I felt bad for them because I knew how good it made me feel. I can't imagine how it would feel to have it expected of me, though, but after they are no longer here, the good feelings of having taken care of them will live on. You're a good man, and I thank you for your green powder and synbiotic.

My husband and I have been the caregivers for all four of our parents whom all have deceased at this time. However, I do remember feeling resentful at times as well for being always responsible as other family members did not live in the same town. When I would ask my mother to get my brother and others to take care of some of the tasks/errands to give us a break she would reply that they came so seldom that she just wanted to visit with them. Now in retrospect, I am very glad we were caring and giving as I have also good memories of time spent with the parents that the others did not get to have. It is a fine line when you know in many ways your good deeds are taken for granted (probably not intentionally)and that you feel your worth is measured in "how much you give"!! I guess we are all just normal human beings. I enjoyed your article very much.

In myself, I recognize resentment building when people RELY on me, because I do not want to disappoint them. Giving out of your basket is admirable, but how much more is it that people can DEPEND ON YOU for your contribution... it alleviates (their) stress when they know they can count on you, but, if you let the devil of resentment in, the stress transfers to you with the weight of the responsibility. So, beyond giving financial support, your dependent parents are asking to give of yourself. As another contributor noted, when they have passed on you will not regret it! It will have been an honor to serve. And, you are being a good role model for your children. Love is a choice; choose to love them when the become difficult!

Dear Dr. Kim,
I too had some resentment when my parents were older and needed care. I was the oldest of four but the only one no longer married. I became the caregiver, and it was not a cultural action. Knew it was right but still resentful. My pastor gave a teaching on a similar circumstance and he told of a women in a like situation that "God entrusted her in the care of the parent". It relieved my resentment. Also,in Colossians 3:23, the Apostle Paul teaches this: 23And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Dedicate your service for your parents to the Lord, doing this for them as you would do it for Jesus. This lifts many resentment's in all areas of our lives. We serve Him. by serving others. If we are believer's, God can trust us to do what is right. The people we serve never need to know we are serving Christ in serving them. It is between us and our God. We are not looking for the accolade from such service because as believers, credit always goes to Christ. He works thru us, we are his physical body on this planet. Serve you Parents and the Lord with Joy.
I do enjoy your emails.
Thank You,
Dixie Campbell

The belief that it is a child's responsibility (oldest male or not) to provide for members of the family who struggle formed during our days as agricultural societies. There were no pension plans, no government retirement payments, no assisted housing, no free healthcare, no opportunity to rise above what you inherited from your own parents, etc, etc.
Here and now, we, the children, did not ask our parents to be able to handle having children... they made the choice to do so. We enjoyed the great things they did for us and we endured the abuse too. I know this may sound like a hard line but my therapist and I worked on this for 3 years before I could "de-program" sufficiently to say I am not responsible for my parents or my siblings. Not emotionally, physically or financially. I have to take care of me, my husband and my kids. That is my job. Doing that should make them happy and proud. I have watched obscene amounts of money and opportunity run through the hands of those I love most deeply. It has become clear that bailing them out has hurt them and our relationships immeasurably. One last thing to consider when giving a gift, does it earn or maintain their love in your mind or theirs? Last I heard, the definition of that word includes that it's free.

Hello Doctor Ben,

Question: do you expect your first born son to look after you? I am guessing that you do not.

I think that you need to except that the different culture you have lived in for many years is now a part of you, and that anyone would feel torn between the two cultures and difference in the expectations of family life.

Your parents may be stuck in their past, but you are not.

You probably need to talk to your parents about this. Tell them how you feel.

Could it be that they would be quite happy to help you with this and that it is only a problem because you find communicating with your parents too difficult? You live your life being an excellent communicator. Maybe telling your parents how you feel is one of your life's hurdles.

Best wishes,

Linda.

P.S.

Thank you for all the great advise.

Hello Doctor Ben.

Your story - freely given - is like a gift of honesty to trusted friends.
(The internet world in fact) It is an honour to be included.

Ask yourself:

'WHY NOT honour my parents with my story - my true feelings?

Being honest with your parents will lift this worry from your shoulders.

You are a very open and truthful man. Keeping these feelings from your parents is not truthful and I think that is what is bothering you.

Best Wishes,

Linda.

thanks Dr Ben for sharing your thoughts , it is always good to hear someone's viewpoint so as to reflect on one's own thought's.
I really enjoy your posts.

It appears to me that, regardless of your cultural ties and the implications of having to take care of your parents' financial debts, that there is a tremendous amount of unfair, and unnecessary pressure being put upon you and
the family of your own that you are responsible for. I, too, who am a very generous and giving person, despite my situation of meager finances, would feel a tremendous sense of stress and frustration in your situation. I do have an acquaintance of long standing who is Guatemalan, and who was born into and raised in a very poor environment.
Somehow, I feel that she is always taking advantage of me, or I am letting her do so, and that does create a lot of resentment in me.I am gradually learning to put my foot down without treading on toes..It's hard to find the balance..and I feel often stymied, and frustrated. I have stopped giving the shirt off my back, but I will always offer to share whatever food I have, as long as I do not shortcome myself or those I need to feed in my family. Such are my thoughts.

Thank you so much for your honesty. You have been given a tall order and anyone in your shoes would occasionally have a hard time with it. I do run into this also. But keep in mind, this only happens to giving people. So on the bright side, you wouldn't be dealing with these "giving" issues if you weren't a giving person to begin with. And further more, you have learned it from your parents. Gotta love em! Be blessed my brother!

I can totally empathize with the quandary of "to give ... or not to give" as yes, there are people who will take, and when they see you don't protest, will then take even more... but then there are those who would rather starve to death than ask for help (and these are the ones who tend to be the most grateful). While I tend to give freely at first, I am also very conscious of leeches. Nobody likes being taken advantage of - whether it's by a friend, family, or a government.

The way I look at it, *voluntary* giving is *tithing* and tithing is a universal principle. Tithing doesn't mean just money - it's time and skills as well. Where it works for you is in that nature abhors a vacuum - and tithing creates a "void" that the Universe *will* fill. A pump requires priming, and tithing is that "priming." It may not result in "money for money", but it will definitely come back to you in some way. When my business slows down, it makes me realize that I haven't been tithing - and every time I've given money away, business picks up again ;)

Although I can definitely understand the resentment of feeling like you *have* to give (nobody likes that), it's always helpful to remember that you at least have the means to do so - and THAT is worth being grateful for. Whenever I pay bills, I remind myself to be thankful that I have the means to pay those bills. An attitude of gratitude is a valuable thing.

You are the only person I know that would/does share your personal feelings with your audience. You make me so grateful just to read your words, for in them you are sharing, a sharing that mere money can't purchase. I am 82 and live from Social Security check to check. I was blessed to be able to work until I was 81 the last 2 years only 3 days a week. During my life I am/was a giver. To be a giver there must be a receiver, I now find myself on the receiving end many times and it is difficult not to cry, for those giving really have no real knowledge of the aide they are doing. This year I've found that I can give even though I don't have money - I can give of my time which I am doing Taxes through the United Way for those who can't afford having them done. I can read to a shut in. I can make soup and take it to a shut in. I can sit with a shut in and give the caretaker time to run personal errands. For the cost of a postage stamp I can keep in contact with friends or write a letter of encouragement. And I can thank, Dr. Ben Kim for his wonderful news-letter that lets me know there are people that care about others. Thank YOU - Myrtle

One of the most challenging as well as fulfilling elements of being human is the skillful drawing of boundaries. We not only have the right to do so but, in fact, the obligation to do so. It is an obligation to ourselves, as emotionally and psychologically healthy people, as well as to our children, teaching them to be confident and well-balanced human beings.

When you give to a person outside of your family, whether it be of heart, time, or money, and that person responds in a way that feels like they are taking advantage of you, you needn't extend your generosity to them again. While you cannot undo the initial exchange and its attendant feeling of resentment, you can recognize the feeling as a signal to create an appropriate and healthy boundary between you and that person. Thereafter, it is perfectly okay to say, kindly, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't help with that." Doing so is incredibly empowering, as well as modeling for your children the art of self-respect. I daresay it will trump any residual feelings of resentment.

Of course it is different with your parents. You are in the interesting position of standing on a bridge between cultural expectations. You cannot change how your parents relate to what they must view as simply unquestionable. Consider that they may also view it as an honor bestowed upon you. It is one they never doubted you'd be worthy to fulfill, nor did they shirk in giving you all the support they could along the way. In their cultural language, that is love. In your cultural language, it is to you to decide whether to pass on those expectations to your sons. That is the only part of this over which you have control.

You could speak with your parents about your feelings in this matter. You can ask them to express their feelings toward you separate from their expectation of future provision. I imagine they will not quite understand why you would ask that question. But I know they love you as completely as you love your sons. I'll bet you do, too.

I can understand what you are saying, Dr Kim. I don't come from a background like yours, but I feel the same type of feelings about other types of giving, not just monetary. I think it's something many must feel. I don't like the way I feel when I am pressured or feel forced with having to give, when maybe I don't care to at certain times or instances. I would like to give or not give. Receive or not receive. And all without anyone keeping tabs or expecting something from me. I do believe it's the whole idea of feeling forced because of expectations or duty. It has nothing to do with how much you love or care for somebody or some cause, it just feels better when you can do or not do of your own accord without feeling guilty or obligated. And I so begin to wonder if I am only loved or cared for or valued as long as I keep up my end of the bargain....so to speak. Thank you for your words...very enlightening and thought-provoking.

ben--beautifully written with heartfelt thoughts. Thanks

Dr. Kim, I understand your feelings perfectly, although I have not encountered similar circumstances in terms of supporting aging parents. I was born into an immigrant family from Ukraine, so can relate to some of your physical and financial struggles. But most of all I can relate to your resentment arising from your parents' expectations in a limited way. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand it perfectly myself, but my mother expected a gift every year on Mothers' Day. I had no problem providing birthday and Christmas gifts, but this one really stuck in my craw, and I had great, resentful difficulty shopping for her expected gift. Her absolute happiness in receiving my unhappy gifts was outstanding. She just shone with joy to think I appreciated her by giving her any gift, though my finances dictated that they were usually quite small, especially by today's standards of gifting.

My mother passed away quite a long time ago - the memories of my resentment are still quite strong today. I'm not sure I have cleared away the emotional component of these memories. Thank you for reminding me to work on it.

I do understand your dilemma - you are grateful - truly, from your heart, for all you have received and the love they have lavished on you and your siblings. BUT! And it's such a big BUT, isn't it?

The reason I am as sane as I am (and some days I wonder about that!) is that I encountered EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) around 10 years ago. It has helped me to release so many emotional states, and it really does work, otherwise I would not continue using it. May I recommend to you that you investigate a book that I discovered this year which has been extremely helpful for me. It is a variation on EFT that works exceedingly well in my own life: Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind by Henry Grayson, Ph.D.

We all need help from time to time. I admire your willingness and humility in allowing yourself to publish this part of your personal journey. I wish you all the very best, and above all, peace of mind.

I give out of my abundance and try to think of it as a privilege. I try to let God sort out the rest.

Hi Dr. Kim,
Thank you for sharing your fascinating autobiographical snapshot! Like you, I'm a person who enjoys giving and doing service for others. I have given to many people who don't share this characteristic, even family members. The way I have managed any feelings of unfairness is this:
I choose to give because I like doing it. Period. I enjoy service to others and so to imagine any unfairness is to be out of touch with my essential nature which is to give unconditionally.
Second, I take the long view which is that this planet is where we come to evolve, not where we come to because we are evolved. So I see each individual as an evolving, God-created person and allow that any appearance of a personal defect is part of the divine order. For example, perhaps there is some karma my soul is working out by diligently giving and doing service for someone who appears entitled or unappreciative.
Last, if I think something is truly unfair I practice a form of forgiveness which dissolves any belief in error or a spot on a person's soul. I focus entirely upon divine oneness and completely release or dissolve any negative feelings.
Maybe I'm a dreamer or a nut but I'm at peace and live harmoniously within this world.
I love your story and think you are a magnificent human being. Thank you for all you do!

Dr. Kim, thank you for sharing your heart with us. That is one of the reasons I love and appreciate you -- and support you and your work.

Like your father, I absolutely LOVE studying theology, and your story has a very clear correlation, to me, to the Law in Scripture. In the Old Covenant, the Law was written in stone. People were commanded to do things for others, were commanded NOT to do certain things, were told exactly how much to give on certain days, and told what they must eat, wear, what dishes to use, etc. It was all forced upon them. Now, most every commandment they were given was actually for their own good, and those who obeyed experienced blessing, while those who did not experienced curses.

The firstborn son, in Scripture, was also not only given a double portion in life, but had many specific extra requirements as well.

In the New Covenant, however, the specific instructions for how to love God and how to love others were removed, and the focus was changed to loving others from your own heart. We no longer need someone to tell us to give our parents our first paycheck, for example, when we choose to bless them by giving them far more, as a token of gratitude for what they have done for us.

When we are given the freedom to choose HOW to love others in the way that we would like, we often will end up being far more giving, and far more loving, than when we are simply fulfilling a "law" to do so.

It appears to me that you are feeling like you are in a bondage to a law that, if removed, you would be so giddy with freedom, you would be able to show your love for your parents, especially, in ways they would never imagine nor expect, but you are held in a bondage to stay in that culture instead.

The only person who can keep you in this continual bondage is yourself. The only person who can set you free is yourself. You are free. Live in that freedom. :-)

I concur, great answer!

Hi Dr. Kim,
I really feel for you in regards to the giving issue. It's hard when giving comes to be an almost expected obligation, as opposed to being able to give kindly and graciously. As old as I am, I have learned a thing or two and in this case, I don't think it's as much about them, as I think it's about you. Let me explain. If the adage of, to give 10% will reap 100%, you will win 100% of the time. A person always gets back more than they give. Even if not in money, they will be taken care of. I believe our God in heaven takes care of those that take care of them. And He loves a cheerful giver. But, in considering other things, good tidings are drawn to you. Think about your business, your marriage, your sons and family. Think of all the people who think you are a wonderful person. Taking into consideration the fringe benefits of giving, money is so incidental. I have seen first hand that what goes around does come around and actions speak louder than words. Be a cheerful giver and your attitude will reflect in your life in such amazing ways, which already seems to have been proven. Have a great day and a wonderful life!

Thank you for your post, your many posts and videos over the years.. They have been so helpful to me and thousands of others. You are most generous with your knowledge and desire to help others.
I, too, am a child of immigrants (both now dead 2 years) who came from a similar cultural belief system(Yugoslavia) and was raised with expectations to give back to my parents, esp. in their old age. Tho my parents were quite generous when they worked and could help, the expectations in their later years began to felt quite burdensome and created a lot of resentment for me. Tho I understood why they behaved the way they did (product of their heritage/ancestry), the little child in me felt that they didn't value who I was, only what I could do for them. Now please have an open mind for what I am about to write: since their passing, I have communicated with them via spiritual mediums and this has been most healing. They have not told me that they see what a wonderful person /daughter I was to them and have apologized for not letting me know or thanking me for all that I did for them while as they were aging. They apologized for not expressing their love while they were in their bodies. These communications have helped enormously in my releasing resentment and anger toward them so that all that now remains is love. It is a challenging position to be in as a first generation immigrant child but I believe you are a thoughtful and wise enough person to transcend this challenge. Sending you many blessings and wishes for
resolution of your feelings. R

Hello Dr. Kim
it feels like a conundrum indeed and I can relate to much of what you wrote in that I am a daughter, an only child, and my parents and I were immigrants. My father died very young and my mother succumbed to MS.

The caretaking was left to me or, at least, I took it on. The decades came and went and here I am at 72, reflecting on what you wrote.

The strongest feeling that bubbled up through my memories is 'don't have expectations of anything but the gratitude that you are able to be of help'.

That's what has kept me going. And yes, there are many times when I have wondered what my life would have been like if I had not taken on that responsibility.

All I know is that I did my best and it sounds as though you are doing the same. Perhaps this is all there is. :o)

Dear Dr. Kim,
I can certainly understand why you would feel resentment. When your parents expected you to give it became them taking, not you giving. You did have a choice, though. It wouldn't have been an easy one, but you could have not fulfilled the roll that they expected of you. One way of perhaps feeling better about the situation is to ask yourself if they hadn't put that on you
would you have wanted to do what you did anyway. My guess is that you would have. It's just nice for people not to assume or expect, but considering your parents culture, that wasn't possible. Must be hard stuck between two very different cultures. It sounds like you are dealing with it really well.
Best of luck,
Linda Bryan

I love to give too! I want to be a part of making someone know that they are important, and it brings me joy to be a blessing to them. On the other hand, I am married into a family that believes it is the responsibility of the adult children to take care of the parents. I'm talking paying mortgages, buying cars, giving large sums of money to bail them out of business issues, and the list goes on an on. They are heavily into condemnation towards those who are not being financially responsible for their parent(s). We are constantly approached for financial reasons to help other family members (cousins, uncles, etc.) as well. I think the difference in giving is the feeling of being made to feel obligated verses giving freely out of the heart. I understand how you feel believing that you were born into that responsibility in regard to the culture your parents grew up in. It is admirable to take care of our parents, especially when they are in need, but feeling like we don't have a choice causes doubt in the relationship. We don't ask to be born and should be able to enter into a family to be loved and not as a plan of care. My husband and I are both Americans and my husband's family is deeply into thinking their children owe them. My parents, on the other hand, who are not what society would call wealthy, have things in place in their lives to take care of each other. They also have spent their lives working to leave an inheritance for me and my sister. It should be free choice to give or not to give without condemnation!

my old rabbi used to say - no good deed should go unpunished! When my father died people asked my mother if she was concerned and how she would cope. She said she had no concern as her son would look after her...and I would. I sent her plenty of money ... which she promptly shared with those who needed it more! On the other hand when I helped my sibling ..I received utter resentment. Instead of thanks for paying for the private education of one her daughters (having been directly asked! I would nto have done so otherwise) they told everyone I was doing it to show off! Then they sought to steal property of mine ..he won't miss it! My mother was utterly religious and never asked for anything ..remaining confident that if I could I would, and if she had more than she needed she could share.
The another story from another rabbi of mine.. a mother bird asks her chicks will they look after her when she is old . The first says of course .. and she kicks it out of the nest, the second says of course and she kicks it out of the nest, but the third says sorry I won't, but I will look after my children as lovingly as you looked after me.. and she lets that one live.
We all have choices ... resentment poisons the giving ... I never saw looking after my mother as giving rather than looking after my mom..

My mother who was widowed at the age of 30 with debts inherited put three of us through college. She managed to pay off debts and even bought a small building with loan, running her hair salon, but ended up in debts again after our college tuition. Maybe my mother's passion for education was stronger than other Korean parents, because she barely finished the elementary school to take care of her siblings (she was the first of nine siblings), even though she was smart. Living in the U.S., I try to help her as much as I can - I am thankful to my husband for that. She doesn't ask for money, but when I help her, I can sense that she thinks she is entitled to it.
I think Korean parents' devotion is from strong family bond and from parents living their dreams through their children, which often results in parents-children conflicts. One thing I believe as a parent though, parents don't devote to their children expecting to be taken care of later. But when they are old and are not well-off, the children are only ones they can lean on, and they may feel they are entitled to it.
I feel I have the same responsibility to help my mother as my brothers. I think the first born sons are often burdened with the ideas of responsibility. But it often comes down to whoever can help their parents. These days the daughters after married are closer to their parents than the sons do, so some like to have daughters instead in Korea.
As I grow older, I feel more grateful to my mom's sacrifice. But I don't think my mother has lived thinking she was sacrificing herself.
I think that giving is your choice,but the response of the receiver is not. The response of the receiver makes you suffer, then don't give. If you choose to try to understand why the response is so and you understand then you can choose to give. When help others, don't expect anything - I think that's what the venerable Pomnyun sunim, whom I respect, would say .

My SO is the first born son - only child - of a Korean mother; his dad has passed on so I know much of what you speak about the son-centric aspect of the culture. I've had similar feelings to what you describe since xmas..a holiday I spent working a double shift..all the money I had sent to my family had gone unacknowledged and I got only a call from my dad on the holiday. I've been feeling very resentful since then and have only recently softened my heart. I think we all like to be appreciated and my guess is you - and most of us freely give when we can and often are fine with doing things anonymously-but we are only human and like to know we are helping and making a difference. I guess I don't want to apologize for wanting that anymore - I'm no saint. :-) I think it's natural to want what you'd like: for your parents to acknowledge and show appreciation for all you do - but, it is not always in their nature to do so. I feel very sure your parents love and appreciate you and all you do but they can't show it in the way you would like. Thank you for sharing this post - you've touched and helped a lot of people!

Dear Dr. KIM,

It is beautiful to read your article. Taking care of our parents is the thing I wanted to do the most. Compare to what they have done since we were baby until today and what we have given to them is nothing compare to their hard work in raising us to be what we are today.
It makes the God's blessed is showered into your family life because by loving your beloved parents is one of the good deed in worship God.
Do not feel resentment, this is a bless for you to get the opportunity to take care of your parents who had done lots of thing unconditionally and uncountable to make their children life better than theirs.
God has blessed you with many thing that other people does not have one, a happy family who care and love each other.

Be grateful and continue to do what You are doing, Dr. KIM... NO BODY CAN REPLACE OUR DUTY TO BE THEIR SON WHO LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY AS DID IN THEIR YOUNGER AGE TO TAKE CARE OF US, THE CHILDREN.

Sincerely,
Rosa - Indonesia

Before I begin I want you to know how much I truly enjoy your newsletters and commentary. It's always a timely subject matter; I believe unbiased in many ways; you write from the heart and I believe it's sincere; and your thought process is extremely logical and easy to follow. Earlier I read the above post and I fully understand how resentment is an emotion many of us share. I've been struggling with this recently with my family and trying very hard to let it go. I have three sons and the middle one and his family live 30 minutes away. The other two boys live out of state. Eric has two sons - ages 14 and 16. His wife works full time. Both are busy attorneys. My dil completely changed her family's diet 12 years ago when my son needed several stents before he turned 40. Heart disease runs in my husband's family. Yes, my husband has had his fair share of stents, open heart, etc. My dil is also lactose intolerant. Over the years I've bent over backwards to please the family....pickup the little ones from daycare when she was running late; babysit, etc. I've made many meals to accommodate their eating habits especially when it's a holiday meal and I can't cook the traditional foods because they wouldn't eat any of it - hence I've cooked "double." I understand "busy" as I'm not one to sit still and juggle time to get it all done. However, my husband and I once worked full time (retirement now), had a large home with three boys, sewed every stitch of clothing I ever wore, etc....yet managed to find the time to entertain, cook big meals, observe holidays. I can't remember the last time we were invited to my son's house for dinner (which by the way the menu never varies but we don't care). Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, holidays are virtually overlooked most of the time. There is no recognition even from the grandsons who are now old enough to know the difference. What bothers me most is that my sons spent a great deal of time with my parents (we lived in the same house) and Eric seems to have lost track of that. My grandsons play sports. I've asked repeatedly to let us know when they have a game so we can watch. No contact. They never phone or text. Needless to say the boys get birthday gifts and Chanukah presents. We have to ask them to thank us! Our gifts are taken for granted. I decided a few months ago I've had it. My husband fully supports me. For the boys' birthdays...a phone call or text message if they, or we, are out of touch. No more gifts. The 16 year old's birthday came and went. The family was in LasVegas so I sent a text; never received an acknowledgement of any sort until I texted Eric and asked if Harry got our birthday wishes. Seconds later Harry sent a text: thank you. My dil turned 50 this month and I have a gift for her but will not present it until we are invited there. I never even mentioned a gift to her. I'm not making family or holiday dinners this year and will not even reference it. I'm desperately trying to let go of my resentments and just take very deep breaths when I think about all this. I do a great deal of talking to myself...count my many blessings as I have been truly blessed. I try to dwell on the positives: my dil phones me weekly, they are all healthy and doing their thing, and the whole family stands behind us in time of need. In the end our egos can run us over if we allow it. I will try to never let that happen.

Dr. Kim:
My sister and I can certainly relate to your situation of giving and resentment. Our situation is actually worse than yours if it makes you feel better. My brother, the first born son, did not assume that responsibility of taking care of our parents. After marriage, he went on to live his life and provide for his own family. We, the younger sisters, were left with that responsibility after we migrated to the U.S. Few years later, he totally checked out and did not even call our parents during the holidays or to wish them happy birthday. We both have to find our way in a new country, to build up our careers and going to night school while working full time to pay all the bills. We have accepted the fact that this is typical in Asian cultures, to care for your elderly parents. However, our resentment is doubled. The first born son in the family could remove himself of that responsibility and have his own life and complete freedom and here we are, the younger sisters by default, have to assume total responsibility as that was the expectation.
Our parents always live with us both and I am thankful that I have a younger sister that can help together to provide for Dad and Mom. You work all 5 days and weekends, you do chores and have to bring your parents out. We hardly have time or the money to even go on vacation as a family and of course, leaving little to no time to spend with my own friends. Hence, I harbor a lot of frustration and anger over the years because I felt I do not have the freedom to do things and go places on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have a problem providing for our parents and I am proud of it. I also love them very much but all I wanted at times is some space and freedom but that was not possible when you all live in the same house.
Dr. Kim, all parents make their sacrifices for their own children in their own ways. Just like your parents, I can also reflect on all the countless sacrifices my parents made for us and the memories are endless. At least your parents are still able and mobile, wait till they have limited mobility and require more assistance. That was what happened to our parents. First my dad and when he passed away, it was my mom’s turn. We have to quit our jobs and work from home, so we can take care of her 24/7 as she could not adjust to home or skilled care from outsiders. So what do you do, you do what it takes to make her feel comfortable and learn the robes of home care. That created even more frustration for us as we can only leave the house to get supplies and groceries. At that point, you do not have a life anymore. It is not until our beloved Mom left us and we started reflecting on all the things our parents have done for us and was also ignorant then to take them for granted. You miss them when they are no longer around and you wished you had spent more quality time with them, tell them how much you love them and to learn more from them. We did not have the wisdom to appreciate them for all their sacrifices until they are gone. In the Asian and Buddhist culture, we are taught to be filial to our parents, and that is where the greatest merits and blessings come from. Our parents have raised us well, provide for us, give us the education we need and also ensured we have food on the table and a roof over our heads. As they begin to age, they are no longer independent and all they need is some help and assistance in return. For our case, it was a lot of work to provide home care on our own but needless to say, we learn to appreciate the Asian culture as it truly has taught us responsibility and the virtue of respecting the elders. Providing for your parents is just a form of giving back for all they have done for you. It really is a small price to pay. If you are willing to give anonymously to others, why not to your own parents who have sacrificed for you. I recalled one of Buddha’s sayings, “Always be mindful of the kindness and not the fault of others.” In this case, kindness means your parents’ unconditional love and sacrifices and their fault, well I guess in this context, their expectation of you being the first born son to take care of them. If you see it in another perspective of being filial to them and giving back to provide for them to repay them for their love and sacrifices, then it will no longer be viewed as a fault or expectation. Hope this helps you in your journey with your parents Dr. Kim while they are still alive. As for me, it is too late because my parents are both gone and all I have is regret.

You hae a good heart, so it must pain you to feel resentment with something that you think should bring you joy. Besides the cultural differences, I noted that there was a subtle undercurrent o resentment during your growing years that your father's ego got in the way of his success as a provider. The grandiose gestures on a weak foundation are not the actions of a responsible adult. Was he soft on himself because he knew he could count on you, could he have made more sacrifices to support his own family, did he take care of his own parents, are you a patsy? You ae an intelligent, well-educated man caught in the cultural, moral & spiritual dilemma, and therefore the angst.

Thank you Dr. Ben Kim for your open honesty and your willingness to share in a way that leaves you vulnerable in many ways. It is admirable and convicting at the same time, but the main reason I enjoy your comments.

In my younger years, I gave what seemed relentlessly at times as an extension of my zeal within my belief. I have also experienced feeling used and abused in my giving. However, I recall having a sit down in prayer over the times that often blew up in my face leaving resentment and confusion. The response to my heart as felt in my relationship with the Lord, was a simple answer, "Not everything you have done was led by Me." Now this is not to say that the only giving one does should be done as led by the Lord - believer or not. However, the greater lesson taught was the question as to why I was giving in the first place... this was key.

If I gave out of my obedience in relationship with my Lord, I gained out of the experience something that deepened my walk in that relationship. However, for the other times, I began some self examination to my giving and correlated a couple of thoughts. If I give to turn the attention to me, I feed an unhealthy pride. When I give cheerfully, I find joy. When I give out of obligation, and resentment to that obligation, it does foster resentment. When I give out of obligation and obedience as unto the Lord (expecting nothing in return except knowing I was obedient), I find peace. Even within the simple reply I felt from the Spirit of God to my heart, made me realize that sometimes I gave expecting a return (i.e. from people, life, or even from God). This challenged my heart.

The hardest giving, and so rarely found is that for which your parent's gave at times... it seems they understood how to give the widow's mite. Most of us give out of our surplus; we know very little the act of giving out of sacrifice or to give all that we have in order to see another benefit. I think your honest feelings revealing resentment when giving while someone takes advantage, or takes one for granted will result in battling resentment, and honest people will concur. This is normal, especially within our humanity. If we feel forced to give out of our humanity, we should expect that we are human and we will probably have a human response. To give without the experience of a negative response of resentment, when someone is abusing the joy of that gift with a self deserving attitude, requires giving out of the spiritual residence of our heart... a place for which our humanity lacks insight. If I muddy the water trying to judge that individual, I collapse in the midst of my otherwise good deed.

For me, it was learning how to love in the way I experienced God's love for me...at a time in my life of which I did not deserve. For me, giving without resentment in the face of feeling obligated is something born out of the spiritual part of my being, for which my humanity does not compute. For me, giving is a personal thing that finds resolution in the private place of my heart where conviction reveals my root. I feel safe to submit those feelings to a just Lord who gave when being abused and knows how to share those secrets to me.

Finally, you are one of the most giving people I have ever encountered online with your giftings and knowledge... you give relentlessly to your faithful followers through your threads of knowledge, insight, savings on your products... on, and on, and on. You are a very giving individual, and I am thankful my path has crossed with your website. Thank you for your giving heart... you have lent to the Lord's poor without even knowing it. Your reward will be found where moth and rust does not corrupt.

Reading your article on giving/resentment made me think of some experiences that I have had in life. First of all I believe fully that God wants us to always love and respect our parents. We may not agree with what they deem important to them should be carried on through the children. There is nothing really wrong about what they are used to having been in the culture they know. The apostle Paul in the New Testament stressed the importance of living the culture you are put in as a witness to share in the Gospel. I once gave a Indian believer some money but was sadly hurt by it. He just wanted more and it damaged my giving to others for a long time.
We must always remember that God who created us created our hearts. It is a joy to give but I am strong in doing it quietly and without the recipient knowing. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand does. Matthew 6:2-4. God also loves a cheerful giver so that being said it brings more joy to give from your heart than your head. Any increase in our lives comes from Him alone.

Don't beat yourself up for being human. All my life I have been told, by parents, that I was wrong to feel a certain way. This caused me to always mistrust my emotions and it opened me up for abuse from others. No, I was not wrong to feel a certain way. Trust your emotions. If you are feeling resentful, it's because you are being taken advantage of, even by family. Even by parents. It's very sad because some old folks try very hard to maintain their independence into old age and those are the ones I admire the most.

"a man with a sour face must not open a shop." Chinese saying. If you hang around with better and better people good things will happen to you. If you hang with crappy people, crappy things will happen. A basic karmic principle derived from life's choices.

I am extremely moved at your open sharing and acknowledgement of your upbringing and how that has and is, impacting your life. I receive emails from Gina Kim also and I send you prayers to bless you. My only question would be, how giving and generous are you to Dr Ben? The forgiveness process is a BIG one but is worth it, forgiving the person/s and forgiving self, which I am sure you have done but there are often "bits" still show up. God bless,

I love your tips and appreciate your sharing.
I am the only daughter and am left to care for my Mother but not financially. I buy groceries and medication and incidentals. She pays the utilities and taxes and bought her own hearing aid. I live with her and rented out my condo so I no longer have much of a life. She has a savings but gave half of it to my brother who does not work very much. We eat poor cuts of meat and I try to grow our own vegetables while my brother buys only the best cuts of meat. I buy groceries for holiday celebrations and cook so she can enjoy spending time with us all (meaning mostly my brother and his extended family). I cook with the help of my Mom and we clean up. My kids help and he and his do help some as well but most falls on my shoulders. He is ten years younger than me. He putters and tinkers on old cars but is capable of earning good money if he had worked. He basically worked very little, perhaps five years in his whole life. She lets him live on her property and pays all the utilities and taxes. He gets the rent from the other two houses for doing minor repairs. He has let them deteriorate but was supposed to keep up the maintenance for his portion of the rent. Instead he collects all the rent and keeps it.
I often feel resentful. She is so overjoyed when he comes to visit because she sees him so seldom but she sees me most days and relies on me more each day. I push my resentments aside most times but days like yesterday where I spent 3 hour shoveling heavy snow for my Mom and my only brother spent time pushing snow for himself with a tractor that my Mom helped finance, I feel the resentment. She won't hire anyone to clear her snow. She hasn't offered to buy a snowblower and I would never ask. But she freely gives to my brother. She is too old to understand that he is taking advantage of her and she thinks the world revolves around him. I work 60 hours a week to ensure I will have enough savings to retire with when I reach 70. She wants to give her properties to my brother and her house to me even though my Dad and her wanted everything split equally back when she was of more sound mind. Because I work so much, I don't spend a lot of time with my Mom but make sure she has groceries and plan suppers for her, buy supplements to aid her digestion and take her for appointments. I also help her understand things as best she can.
I know if I dwell on the resentment, it would kill me so I try my best to softly release it. But I have to remind myself each time to release. I think it helps to take a deep breath, close my eyes and pause before I softly release. I keep busy and write in my gratitude journal each night. I have so much to be grateful for.
With all the horror in the world, I am safe, warm and have food to eat and so much more.
I have two beautiful granchildren.
I have two amazing sons who will be there if and when I really need them to be. I try to save their kindness for things I really can't do myself. I have told them that I do not want them to live with me - just see that I am comfortable with books, a TV and a warm safe place to stay. And do not visit too often as you have your own life to live.
I have a best friend to visit and talk to.
Even though I struggle financially, I lend money when people really need it. I mostly help those who are willing to help myself. I hope they will pay me back but if not then it will be OK, if they truly can't. Otherwise, I won't help them next time. Everyone needs to find purpose by doing what they can to help themselves and others.
I have a job that allows me to be kind and supportive.
I am truly blessed. My brother will have to deal with his demons someday and I feel empathy for him. He is also kind in lots of ways. Just he has never had to stand on his own two feet.
What a blessing for you that your parents gave you the gift of learning to stand on your own, strong and with purpose.
My advise - review the difference between your parents needs and wants. Based on your own family's needs and wants, draw a firm line as to how much of your parents wants you wish to meet. I don't know if the US government provides for seniors but if they do, their needs should be met already. If not, then I guess you will need to meet them. If your sister is able, perhaps she could take on some financial responsibilities. Ask, don't wait for her to ask. She may believe that you are very wealthy if you are or not?
I hope this helps but I believe that simply by writing out your truth, you will be set free. Or at least as free as I am which is good enough for me.
Blessings
from a Sister

We ONLY DO what we get rewarded for.

It is a healthy condition - not a selfish condition. It is a basic survival instinct and it keeps us motivated.

So,

If you give to charity - the reward is:
Feeling good, to have helped someone in need.

Do the house work - the reward is:
Having a clean house to live in.

Go to work - the reward is:
You can pay for basic needs like shelter, food, clean water, clothing, heat, etc... and if lucky some luxuries.

Pay the bills - the reward is:
You know you have paid your way in society and you stay out of prison.

Eat Heathy foods and get some exercise - the reward is:
Being fit and healthy and maybe living longer.

Having Children - the reward is:
A full life, cuddling babies, playing and laughing with toddlers and teaching your children the things that you have learned.

Children do not have to pay a price to their parents for being born and looked after. It is the responsibility of the parents to look after their children. And the child's birth-right to be cared for.

Parents have already been rewarded and the job was finished around graduation time.

If you feel that you are spending too much time looking after an ageing parent then how about looking for other ways to help them and yourself.

It may also give back to your parent some of the pleasure in being more independent and taking care of them self. This could be where their anger comes from - feeling taken over. A little exercise, remember, will help to keep them fit.

e.g. Groceries delivered via internet order from a supermarket.

Health visitor and / or a Home-help and / or a Cleaner.

Meals on wheels (in the UK they deliver a hot lunch)

Mail order frozen, ready meals heat up (healthy options)

Skype could be a way to keep in touch and allow you to go home.

It may be quite easy to arrange for other local elderly people (who may be lonely) to visit.

Or are there clubs for retired people that get together and could they supply the transport for your parent to attend?

To chat to others and make friends of a similar age would be more fun than spending all day at home with a resentful daughter. (Sorry. I am being cruel to be kind here)

If none of these ideas seem possible, then it may be that you are getting a reward from doing all the things you do. Which is good, but recognising that you are rewarded may help to take away the feeling of being, put upon.

One last, but most important thing - Ask for help. You deserve to be helped too. You are such a great person.

Remember - people like to hep - TO GIVE - brings that reward. So let others get their buzz from helping you shovel snow or whatever else you need.

You could even ask your Mum for help : )

God Bless.

Best Wishes,

Linda.

Something to consider, it is hard to accept and understand that love given to us does not come from what we do. A common problem in accepting the love of Jesus Christ too. Would you agree? Parents are such good reflections of our relationship to GOD Almighty.

Hello Dr. Ben Kim

I found your exposition of giving and resentment very honest and open and thank you for that.
My contribution is that there are so many times I have gained from others and it has been not possible to return the kindness for whatever reason. This can range from ones Teachers to bystanders giving me a smile or courteous remark.
So I believe one should just be a generous as one can be and let go of all the thinkery/thunk that can go in hand with giving and returns which simply clouds the whole issue and purity of serving another.
I heard once a saying that a room with its windows closed quickly becomes stagnant.
Lastly to quote Kahlil Kibran from the Prophet
"
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of Yourself that you truly give."

Ironically I am making this effort in my busy life to write this in the knowledge that you once replied to a medical question of mine personally and maybe there is some feeling not of debt but gratitude in what you do and a wish to return the compliment..Yours kindly Richard

Dr. Kim, I deeply appreciate your honesty and transparency about the challenge of giving.
First, I will say, I wished I had one more day with either of my parents, regardless of how at times it would be difficult. While my sister was the main caregiver, I also would say to her, one day you will have the memories of having done all that you can for them, and less regret. I expect it is impossible to entirely avoid regrets, of one more thing I could have said or done. Yes, at times it could be very difficult. My Mom, who could have a critical spirit, would vex me so. Well, I would allow myself to get vexed, and just have to hide and cry. In her latter years, I did not want to add to her struggles in growing old. Time was precious, what time I would get to see her, living so far away. Dad had already passed years ago. It would be a flurry of activity during my "vacation" doing all the honey-dos I could when I came home. It actually became an adventure, to get the list from my sister, who had prepared it beforehand. I would spend much time to fix and craft things, things that got broken or that she wanted. I would plan it like an operation to maximize my time visiting. She would be so filled with joy when I gave her the result-be it a calligraphy, or fixing her wind chimes. I knew that one day I would look back at these visits, and recall the happiness that it would bring her. Worth it! Worth even the times I would be tired and wish I could ever have a "real" vacation. I would not trade these memories for the world. Someday, even in spite of our very human nature to at times feel resentment or "put upon" by aging parents-you will have the reward of good memories. And the peace knowing you have done what you could, even when it did not feel "peaceful" at the time. My parents also taught us to give, by the example of their lives. They touched the lives of even hundreds of people, while also having tragedy and difficulty more than many could face. Giving is a blessing!

Thank you so much Dr. Kim for opening your heart and expressing what lies deep within. I too am from an immigrant family and relate to the hard work, sacrifices but more than that the love that was shown to me beyond measure by loving parents.

I'm currently a student of A Course In Miracles and am learning that giving and receiving are one and the same thing, therefore when I give, I give to mySelf and when I receive I also receive the gift for the giver. Underlying all that we do is the Love that we are, nothing more, nothing less.

Thank you so much for your newsletters which inspire, assist and contribute to my well being. Kindest regards, blessings and love to you and your family. tina

In my humble opinion, Yes! Give freely...anonymously or otherwise...
Unfortunately, we will forever be disappointed with people who are ungrateful and take advantage of others who are kind & giving...it's a shame that they confuse kindness for weakness...

I try to do the right thing, but sometimes it is difficult...so when I'm struggling, I ask myself WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?...And pray to Our Heavenly Father for His guidance! God Bless...

A Very touching, inspiring and insightful history of your struggle in reaching a turning point in your life. I admire the courage you have demonstrated. I have had a similar experience here in Mexico, giving , being taken advantage of, and trying to learn how to give and not experience resentment. There are no mistakes, just lessons from which we must learn.

Dr. Kim,

I read your post today. I am moved by your desire to reconcile your love for your parents with the resentment you sometimes feel for having to play the role of eldest son. I believe the heart of your post is the following:
“But I do feel some sadness and resentment at times and struggle with figuring out if I am being petty, even though I have identified my feelings about my value to them being partly tied to what I can do for them.”
petty:
• of little or no importance or consequence
• of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.
• having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.
• mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things
• showing or caused by meanness of spirit
You are not being petty. You are being human. Your post indicates the exact opposite of being petty. It is important and has deep consequences for you; important enough for you to share openly in hopes of achieving that cathartic experience you were hoping for. Your love for your parents and their love for you is clear. I believe the problem for you lies in feeling that being the dutiful son somehow lessens the genuineness of your love for them and their love for you. So what if part of your value to your parents is tied to what you can do for them? Does this lessen your love for them or their love for you?
I imagine the creator feels what you are feeling. I chant his name when I am hurt, filled with fear, and cannot see the road ahead. How disappointing it must be for him to think that his value to me is tied to what he can do for me. But does he love me any less?
If we were all perfect we would not be on Earth. The fact that you are cognizant of some minor glitches is proof of your quest to be a genuine human being. This flaw you see within yourself is not a weakness. It’s strength of character. Many could not face looking within as you are doing. And even many who do are not honest about what they see. Take solace in the fact that your doubts and fears are proof of your inner, spiritual evolution. You’re a great guy who loves his mom and dad. If you can’t get over seeing this as a character flaw, I pray your penance be to have your mom and dad around for many, many years to come. May your love for them and theirs for you bring you comfort.

Thanks for baring your heart with us, Dr Kim, a long, thoughtful, entertaining post. I like Joe B's take on it: you're not being petty, but maybe the sense of obligation sucks some of the joy out of giving. There's no doubt that you're anything but a generous person, so try not to allow yourself to get stuck in any feeling that's less.

I appreciate your candor in sharing your heart. Generosity is one of my strengths and I love to do for others; however, if I feel it is expected or unappreciated, I can get my feelings hurt. I have learned in the last few years to really think about why I'm giving (because I want to share, or because I want a reaction) and to try and separate the giving from my own expectations. I did have a situation recently where a family member stated their expectation that "I give to their adult child so the child would feel loved", but it did not come from the child. After a day of being frustrated, I let it go. I do love the child and even though she does reciprocate or give much appreciation, I will still give.

Hi! My apologies for my writing as English is not my first language.
I feel very identified with your situation as I grew up in Mexico in a very traditional family, funny that you mentioned that parents your generation grew up with the idea of the first born taking care of the parents when old, in Mexico is all the kids or who ever is able to participate.
So I married an a very very American man, and this money family-support-share situation is been a headache since the beginning. My dad past away ten years before my marriage but when I left Mexico to live in USA and started working and making money on my own, my mom was expecting me to send her some money to keep helping her as I did after I graduated from college and while I was living with her and my brothers in my parents house. But my husband could not believe such a situation, as his own brothers and himself had never ever give or support financially to their parents, unfortunately my mom passed away shortly after we got married, so the uncomfortable situation of arguing finished then!
Now the same situation happens with my grandma(mom's mom) 94, who has a living help that takes her of her during the day and helps her with everything she needs, so all my mom's siblings decided all to contribute equal financially with the cost and they asked my brothers and I if we would like to take care of my deceased mom part, so we did, but I have to hide this from my husband and we would not absolutely understand the situation, and of course the regret feeling comes to me when thinking of not standing firmer with the situation when it was my mom's turn to be helped....
Thanks for sharing your story and taking time to read mine!
Blessings,
Karla

Is Arsenic found in are rise, if so what do we use, I not really to give up rise. Milt Nielson silvergorilla@cox.net

Hi,Dr Kim.It is also an automatic assumption in Hispanic households that the parents will be taken care of by their kids when they are elderly and/or ill/disabled.Im a 50 year-old woman.My 73 year-old mother lives with me.Shes disabled and her memory is starting to fail her.I work full time.My husband lives in our 2nd home-40 minutes away.My 3 sons and newborn grandson also live 40 minutes away.I try to fit work,visits with my husband,kids,and tending to my moms needs all in without anyone feeling visit-time deprived.My mom doesnt want me to spend time with my husband because its time I dont spend with her.She complains if I visit my kids/grandson without taking her with me.If I dont dedicate my 2 days off to run her errands,she complains.She doesnt manage her finances well and shes always broke in between her social security and pension checks.She has $1500 more coming in monthly than I have,yet Im stuck paying our utilities and loaning her money.Im stressed out.Her negativity drains me.I have sat down and calmly talked to her about my need to spend time without her and Ive tried to convince her that she needs to change her spending habits
All to no avail.I feel she is taking advantage of the fact that she knows I want heat and light-so of course Im going to pay the bills.She knows my work schedule and plans my time to run her around before and after my work schedule.I have a brother.Hes fighting a 25-to-life sentence in prison.There is no one else who can help with my mom.Not only is my mom broke all month,shes also stressed out over my brothers situation.I cant fix her life.Shes making mine miserable.I pray daily and stay strong in my faith.But that feeling of resentment keeps creeping in.Thanks for letting me vent

with anything you give you can also offer it to the source of everything by way as a spiritual practice....for me as a single parent because I had no resentments my kids have always been grateful.

I believe I understand your resentment. Since taking care of your parents in their old age is expected in their culture however, it doesn't seem to me that this would be part of why they love you. If one 'loves' someone because of what they can do for them, that is not love. I may be completely wrong, but ask yourself why you feel resentment. What is it that you want or need from your parents that you aren't getting? I believe this is why you feel resentment. If you find an answer to that question, then ask your parents for whatever it is. If you feel they are not capable of giving what you ask, or wouldn't understand, role-play and talk to your parents as if they are with you in private. Talk to them and answer for them without thinking out what you say. Just say it. I hope this is helpful in some way. I am one of your customers and truly appreciate your products, the knowledge you share in your newsletters, and your obvious goodness.

Dear Dr. Kim,
I have never felt as strongly about writing to you concerning a topic that you have touched on. What a tremendous blessing life has given to you.
I think back to your maternal grandfather and the sacrifice he made when he put your mother and sister on the airplane to share the new life living in Canada would bring. Knowing he would seldom, if ever, see his daughter and granddaughter again. How hard that would be for me to do. How I would long to see my child, my grandchildren had I been him.
Generations ago there was no retirement funds for those that grew older and older. Whether in Korea or perhaps another country, the responsibility for the care of parents falls on their children and of course should there be a son, the responsibility would naturally fall to him.
To be blessed with parents as they live the last years of their life, even if that is beyond 10 or even 20 years is a blessing. The stories they can tell your children are priceless. Hopefully this is an opportunity for your children and your parents. For your father to drop to a lower status in life to him in order to support his family in a new country is to be deeply admired. The struggle of living and raising children in a new country is at times I would think, quite overwhelming.
The honor fallen to the oldest son comes from generations of life in the country of their birth. For them to drop that mindset would be very hard. Ways of thinking changes from generation to generation. Not that long ago, generations lived together. Unlike you, I had no sister, I also had no brother. The weight of care for my parents became mine as they aged in life. I however was not a wanted child. But as a child I worked hard to gain their love and always loved them. Sacrifices were made to make sure they had the best possible in the last years of their life. Something both I and my husband knew we would always handle with love and care.
This becomes the foundation that we set for our children. I always looked at it as the greatest gift of love I could give to my parents. And our children saw the great love and respect we had. That is a priceless gift you give your children. Children learn by living. A great amount of the learning children recieve is the example set by the way their parents handle the challenges life brings.
A gift given anonymously is rewarded by the wonderful feeling the giver and the reciever has. Even a large tip for a waitress that perhaps is pregnant is rewarding to all. Your parents were raised as part of lifetime traditions that are fading away. Look perhaps at them as you would that wonderful treat a warm chocolate covered donut was like. They may not be able to show appreciation for the gift of your help, but you can rest well with the love that the gift of supporting them can bring. You are sharing with them the traditions of your family throughout the generations. It is an honor and I hope that you look upon the responsibility that way. That your children can see that you take the responsibility just as you did to support not only your family but with wisdom those that you have helped in life over the years.
May peace and acceptance be a large part of your life because we only have this life now to live. There is no reruns, no backing up such as we did with movies. There is only today and that is how to live fully - remembering that the responsilities of each day is what we strive to do. And that each new day can bring joy to all.
Very Sincerely,
Elaine

Thank you for your candid essay on giving and resentment. It seems to me that you are uncomfortable with your feelings of resentment because you think they might be wrong or bad. That is a judgement that might not be a fact. Maybe the best thing to do is to allow yourself to feel your feelings and all that might entail. Suppressed or discounted feelings can be very harmful. In fact, I've encountered numerous references along the line of how damaging it can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to disown your feelings. The trick is to own them, look at them from all aspects, and decide if you want to take any action or make any changes. If you decide not to take action, then simply being conscious of purposely accepting the situation as it is may help.

Thank you for all you do. I have always enjoyed your newsletters and wisdom.

thank you for your sharing, really enjoyed the read. I, too, resent those who take advantage or become ungrateful with my giving. I find that those who take advantage fall into a category of habit, that allows them to continue the habit. Giving as a habit becomes so spontaneous that one doesn't have to think but to act from the heart.

Your article comes at a time where grave frustration surrounds my being due to family members resenting my ability to provide, give, donate, and acting like its no problem. Their question is why would I want to do all this for people I don't know, or people who don't deserve. In reality, they do not see need as I do, and if I can bring a smile of cheer, of hope, of gratitude or of awe, then, I have done the right thing. Your article reminded me that I mustn't allow others to destroy my goodness and as old as I am getting, its worked this far, why not forever. Thank you, Ben, for your spirit of reaching out. I feel so much better already.

Dr Kim,
I noticed immediately that you are a very generous person when I recently came across your free website full of valuable information. I was a bit shocked at your young age when I watched one of your videos because your thoughts seem to be generated by a kind, old soul. Your article about giving, especially to ungrateful aged parents brought tears to my eyes. I too sometimes resent my elderly 91 year old senile Mom who has no clue how much my husband and I are sacrificing by taking care of her instead of putting her in a nursing home. When I don't receive love or sometimes even respect from her, I have turned anger and disappointment into a Mother Angelica prayer for even more HUMILITY; Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Jesus said we must be like a child to enter heaven.

Dear Ben and all,
We have all accepted that giving is part of our human nature as animals do in their respective habitats. However, this has nothing to do with the obligation set by dubious moral standards in our society, one coming from our parents and another our society (via NGO's). I refuse to both as giving has to come from our heart and feelings not as an obligation or complex imposed by society.
I would help my parents if I am financially capable? Of course but with the condition that this help would not entail any additional obligation from either side. Would I give money to NGO's? Of course not, as this is generally fabricated dramas created by the elite, i.e. cancer, refugees, Africa, in general this is an industry we should all fight against as it is not real and comes not from the heart but from profit racketeering.
This explains that our moral standards should derive from our own feelings, morality and love, not imposed by any other external factor.
Regards.

The people who take advantage of generosity don't count. It would be a pity to not give freely because of the them. You know who they are anyway.
The other side of giving is receiving. Sometimes it is hard to accept what is offered. But to receive graciously is a necessary part in the process.

Dear Dr Kim,
I think the challenge is to be able to 'Love' everyone, even the ones that try to take advantage of you.
Personally I think this is the most difficult thing do. To be able to Love everyone; specially the ones that don't act with a pure heart, the ones that try to take advantage of you, who know very well you are doing, whatever you are doing with a good and pure heart, is 'very' difficult.
But you know, I have come to realize that ... the shock, the resentment, the violation one feels is nothing but ones Ego. My teacher has a great word ' The Self always gives and forgives, The Ego always gets and forgets'.
They say that ones left hand should not know of what ones right hand gives. When you give,.. really give with a pure heart, selflessly .. there is no greater joy and happiness. Just to be able to put a smile on another being or knowing that you have made difference in that beings life for that day is I think one of the greatest joys. I have come to realize that the more selfless a person becomes, the more loving and forgiving the person becomes. I think one becomes resentful or feels violated when the ego is in action. This means either the person who is giving is expecting something in return (like maybe a 'thank you' or 'gratefulness' etc) or the person wants to give but only in his or her terms, how it suits that person. This does not mean of course that you should let people to take advantage of you. It just means the person should not be 'affected' by the outcome of the act of giving.
I have come to realize that when you give, just for the act of giving (with a pure heart) and leave it at that, than the rest doesn't affect you as much or with time it does not affect you at all. At the end of the day what matters is what you did and with what attentions you did what you did. We don't know why the other person is acting the way he /she is acting, we don't know what circumstances made him the way he/ she is today.. We are judging with our own perception and our rights and wrongs. This is Ego.
The Ego 'always' thinks for itself and the Self 'always' thinks with a pure heart :)
Of course some people will still manage to jump you out from your seat but I think they are meant to do that. I think these people are great teachers :) They teach you to be a better person because they push you our of your comfort zone.

I feel it's difficult to find the middle ground in a bi-cultural family relationship. I believe the only thing to do is to fulfill the obligation to one's parents (I doubt they will change their thinking and expectations.) and simultaneously teach one's children a new way to respect, love, and take care of their elders without feeling burdened, angry or resentful. It is also important to move into a space where what we do for someone else is done unconditionally and without any expectations. Then, the action is pure and there is no conflict to wrestle with or worry that we are being taken advantage of.

You have been blessed with a beautiful gift of giving, which goes beyond your personal upbringing and experiences and stems from an innate gifting that is divine in origin. That being said, the gift of giving has to be nurtured to know how to use it appropriately. There is an enormous difference between giving from the heart and giving out of obligation. Obligational giving will always lead to resentment because it originates in "I ought to" rather than "I want to." Giving that is connected to your heart is has its source in love doesn't look for a response, does not seek approval, and does not need a reason to validate your actions. Love, like the Divine, simply gives.

After reading all the comments and sleeping on them; during my meditation today these thoughts occurred to me: The bible teaches us to give anonymously. Is this so that we can learn to give without attachment to what is given?
Many, including Depok Chopra, Louise Hay, Florence Scovill Schinn, teach that we want to "detach" from the outcome. This applies to just about anything that we do. Ideally we will "de-personalize" and do not have an attachment to the outcome. We do what we do and give what we give from a place of love without expecting ANYTHING because we know that we are not in control of the outcome. This is easier to do if you do not know the individuals involved. Once you know the individuals it is so hard to be detached from the outcome; yet I think that this is what we need to strive for. In my personal life I am a massage therapist and because this is both an art and a science I cannot know exactly how each person will respond to a massage session. My first years were fraught with being overly concerned about the outcome until I started to learn to do what I do with love and intent and turn the outcome over to God. I have learned to apply this principal in many other areas of my life as best I can and it allows me to more easily let go of the outcome. If I am not attached to the outcome there is less or no need for resentment on my part. Applying this principal to my own family has been the hardest but the most rewarding for me as well. I trust that as I feel I've been led to post this that these words will be helpful to some who might read it. But I'm not attached to the outcome. :o) Blessings!

Thank you so much to one and all for taking the time to share your thoughtful contributions with me and the rest of our readership. Reading through your thoughts brought me comfort as I realized that my feelings and experiences on this topic are far from unusual - I had hoped as such, but there's nothing like receiving such responses to uplift one's spirit.

To clarify, my parents have always been hard-working in their own ways - they've just struggled to build financial security, and for the reasons shared in this post, I am ultimately grateful that I am able to be helpful to them in various ways.

I feel very blessed to be able to share such thoughts here, and to receive nothing but kind responses.

My very best to you all,

Ben

My wife an I have had the same problem with giving directly to people. It is true that there is so much need arising from tragedies in people's lives, but there are some people who after a certain point seem to think that if you can give some you need to give them more including close family members. The saddest of this group are the ones with young children. We have almost always have to do it ananomosly so that we can do it with kindness and a free hearth as Jesus wants us to do. I believe Jesus recommended this way of giving so that when you support family members children for years and when you can no longer afford to help them, they write you off as a bad person. So doing giving ananomosly save the giver from heartache and emotional pain. The realization that you have just been an enabler which actually hurts the person you are trying to help is painful.

I have written this from my heart with no filter.
God Bless you
Dr. Kim.

You are suffering from cross conditioning. You grew up imprinted with the
values of your parents totally conditioned to believe that number one son
takes care of the parents. No open minds here. And then you live in
another culture that does not quite support that. You begin to question.
Your parents make you feel obligated to support them, that if you did not
you would not be worthy. You want to help them, but you want to do it because it is a nice thing to do, not because you have to do it. It is all in the mind. The only way out of it, is to change your thoughts and know that your worth does not depend on someone's evaluation of you. Do not let their views on how you should live your life, devalue your support of them. Let your heart be your guide and not your ego. Of course it is the right thing to take care of your parents, especially if they took care of you in a supportive, loving manner. They are only reacting in the manner they were
taught, they know no other way to be - their minds are closed. You have the choice to see clear and know that in their hearts they truly love you for who you are and not what you give them. And even if they did not - does it matter?
What is important is that you value and love yourself and operate from this
security. You are the best Dr. Kim! May the force be with you!

I've personally found that my resentments hurt only me.

On occasions when I find myself feeling "used" or "taken advantage of" I re-center rather quickly by remembering that:
No one can make me feel anything. I choose to give because it makes me feel good without expectations on the recipient. Greed and entitled grasping may hurt the taker but need not diminish my joy in giving since their response to my gift is none of my business. :)

Thank you ever so much for all of your articles, recipes, and 'How Too' blogs.
Your devoted fan,

Lea Wolf

Drbenkim,
I was so thankful for you sharing from a pure heart in your article. I could give my opinion like others but there is only one true opinion that will guide you. You were brought up in knowing Christ and His love as so evidenced by your love and giving to others. The Lord says how easy it is for us to give to those who love us but harder to give to those who don't and what reward is there in that! We all often forget to give the very mercy and grace to others that was so freely given to us and undeserved. Your feelings are real I know but place them at the feet of the one who gave you all the means by which to love others anyway. You are a blessed man to bless others. Money is a tool and you can't out give God. The honor you show your parents No matter their response shows you are a man following after the heart of God. Release yourself from being thanked. You are defined by your identity in Christ. He is the peace. You are not defined by your acts of giving to the right circumstances that bring different emotion. You are a powerful man with a destiny. Continue all these good works. Be encouraged in your faith. Thank you for your work.
Blessings
Linda

When I am part of something good, that is unseen by other people, but I know is generous and kind of me, I am happy. I do appreciate when someone says 'Thank you' - and I do think it's necessary to have that interchange between the two parties. It's necessary because that creates a paradigm and gives the person who has been given to, a chance to be gracious and acknowledge their gratitude. All parties can grow from the experience.

Thank you for sharing from your heart the bones of your life story. You are a good son with good parents and the love you have for each other is evident. Ours was a loving family too, but both of my parents are now deceased by many years. What I wouldn't give to have given them more. The time with them was too short and my mother lived to be 94. To be able to give is such a blessing. To have the gift expected might be another way of saying your are loved for being the good son that you are. Don't let the phantom of resentment steal the joy of your gift of love.

Dear Ben Kim,
You are a very generous giver with your articles and you create an avalanche of comments and appreciation.
Giving is done for a reason, anonymously or not. In either case I feel good when giving, especially when needed. At times obvious, at times communications might be needed. Being free from cultural conditioning one can be his/hers real self. All the resentment is toward one’s own vulnerability and subjectivity to others’ expectations. Forgive yourself for hurting.
With love, David Nakov

I take great solace in reading about your internal conflicts because I too live with on-going resentment caring for my elderly Father - a European immigrant that degrades me at every turn. I find it very difficult to reconcile this place in life-- and yet I am still convicted to my care for him, sacrificing my own happiness and well being. Strangely,I too buy donuts for others anonymously in the drive-thru and take great pleasure in gifting strangers. Not only have they not expected anything from me, but they express extreme gratitude, which feeds me. I thank you for your honesty because it was healing.

I read your article from a slightly different perspective. I am a single mother, who raised 4 children, all of whom are now happy and successful adults. I have found with the passing years that it has become more and more difficult to maintain my standard of living on an income not keeping pace. I am also approaching retirement and have worried about how I will cope. It never occurred to me that my children would step in and help out - especially my "first born" son. I never expected it and certainly hadn't banked on receiving ongoing assistance. I was humbled and overwhelmed at the level of generosity my son has displayed. When I thank him he responds by saying, No Mom it is my pleasure to help out. I can never thank you for all you did for us growing up, so let me do the little I can! He may think he isn't doing much, but believe me, he has made my life so much less stressful! So from a mother to a son - thank you so much!

Hello Dr. Kim,
My wife and I came across your writings some years ago and have benefited from your wisdom on health and nutrition. I read with interest your post on giving and resentment and appreciate your honesty and candor. I am 59 years old and have been married to my wife for 34 years. Together we have raised six children to adulthood. Our youngest is 18 and has Downs Syndrome and may always remain with us. I have been a Christian Counselor all my adult life and have pondered and dealt with such issues as you describe in your post.

As I have sat with many people over the years with all different backgrounds and persuasions, I find that with regard to the issue you write about, some people who are extremely conscientious and giving need grace and permission to set limits and boundaries because of always feeling obliged to give more and do more to the point where the begin to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful. Other people need to be confronted about their callousness and self centeredness and failure to consider others. Most people fall somewhere in between.

I believe that in order for us to be able to give freely without expectation of any return, we must be able to say no. If one feels compelled to always say yes, sometimes we will want to, other times we may not want to. If we feel we have no choice because we are obligated to, it is these times that we are more likely to become resentful.

I think it is a good idea to pray about giving and have a sense of what the Lord is leading us to do as opposed to what others are expecting us to do. Then when we give, we give out of love in obedience to the Lord who sees what we have done and know in our heart that this giving is its own reward. If someone says thank you, great. If they don't, well God is pleased with our obedience and that is enough. Sometimes you may want to give, but others expect more. I once was getting many requests from people in my church to support their mission trips. I asked my pastor how he decided how much to give and who to support. He said that he and his wife would pray as to how much to set aside for missions giving in the budget and once it was exhausted they would say no to additional requests. That was helpful to me.

I think you might find the book "Boundaries, When to Say Yes and When to Say No To Take Control of Your Life," by Henry Cloud,Ph.D., and John Townsend, Ph.D, helpful.

Thanks for all you do. Blessings to you and may the Lord give you wisdom in this area.

Dan

I enjoy giving with no attribution especially if it is to a cause with a good reputation or as I like to call it: a random act of confusion for a stranger behind me in a grocery line.
However, my resentment surfaces all too quickly when my act of kindness appears to turn into an enabling act for someone intent upon staying dependent.

I always enjoy your letters; it always shines through that you are a kind and thoughtful human being. One thought that came to mind when you welcomed comments on this particular letter was a favorite verse of mine from the Bible which exemplifies the standard of giving in my opinion: "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." This, in my opinion, is truly the standard of giving. Being kind to the unthankful and the evil sounds like not taking thought of being taken advantage of. God gives good gifts every day to those who mock and despise him. Please be sure I'm not implying any such thing to your parents, who I'm sure are wonderful and grateful people. This is just my response to your general question about giving.

Enjoyed the story. I am very glad you are successful at home in this country (Canada). The story is heart-warming, and thank you for writing it.

We give (love) because He first gave to (loved) us. Yes, keep giving and also, keep pouring out your hurting heart to Jesus. Both.

Dr. Kim I read all your newsletters and I talk to all my friends and family about you and your website, recipes, stories, products. My heart goes out to you on this subject because you are a good person and I feel your struggle. In all situations of giving, whether it be your family or outside your family, focus on only the giving. Most will respond with gratitude, some without, some may take advantage, but that is of no concern to the giver. A person's response may not be what they are feeling in their heart. Sometimes these people need to experience generosity even more so than the people who express gratitude. Also, being taken advantage of does not have to hurt. It's not a reflection of who you are. I have read many spiritual books, but my favorite is one I've just read twice. From what I feel I know of you, you may enjoy this book also. It is changing my life dramatically. It's called, "The Untethered Soul", by Michael A. Singer. If you end up reading it, I'd love to hear if you enjoyed it. Sincerely, SE.

Dr Kim,
I whole-heartedly agree with responder Sheri. When I was younger, I used to look for a person's response toward my giving. Looking back at my immaturity, I have to say that my perspective on nearly all of life's interactions came from an inexperienced and very self-centered perspective. Back in the day, had I given to anyone, indeed it would have been out of kindness, however, if I had been truly honest with myself, it would have also had a self-desire of a longing for recognition of my good deed. I was looking for approval, an "atta girl. If the gift was not received in the manner I had hoped for, I saw it as failure. Failure on my part as well as the recipient's part. Now that I am much more seasoned, I can say with sincerity a gift is free-willed, no strings attached. Although I may have a good intention for the gift, I am completely open and accepting of how the receiver chooses to receive it. Perhaps the receiver hasn't had the experience of genuine love and acceptantance. Perhaps they feel a burden to have to give back and can't for numerous reasons. I guess in a very strange way having reflected on this, I am able to say, I am thankful for my disease. It has caused me to see beyond resentment. It has allowed me to grow in purpose. It has allowed me to love more unconditionally. It has allowed me to give that which I was previously unable to give, and yet in many people's eyes, I still have nothing to give. Giving and receiving with a joyful heart is a treasure to be found. I have found my treasure and it's in my heart. Oh the joy of giving!

On the right side of the page with your story is a quote from Hamlet "...to thine own self be true,..." Your father followed this sentiment himself when he quit the store and went into the ministry. The whole family had to adjust. Now it is for you to follow his example and do what you feel you need to do in order to be true to yourself. Your parents might need to make adjustments but that is life: a constant series of adjustments. Maybe the tradition needs adjusting as well.

Mahalo for your wisdom and openness!

I understand how you feel, can empathize and even see where I may have left others feeling the same way. But this article moved me in a slightly different direction ...
How sad is it that we have turned from that culture of respect from not so long ago? I believe the same expectation existed here in the USA but perhaps not has cultured and strong as in Korea. What gets me tearing up is that WE have taught our children over the last several generations to be selfish, whiny, immature adults. To the point where the elderly have come to expect NOTHING from the very children they bore and raised. What have we done? I know that I am "guilty" of being resentful when giving to those who show no appreciation and recently witnessed myself in action a few days ago when digging out from the winter storm. I also know I am "guilty" of having a lack of appreciation for someone's generosity. These both stem from our current societal culture, in my opinion. We're not talking about someone who is being a real BUTT ... I mean the everyday person who recognizes that we are all connected, yet we are feeling very disconnected. Just want you to know I am one of the many others who feel like you do. It would be a pleasure to meet you one day and just sit and talk. Aloha brother!

Many years ago I read the book Emotional Intelegence by Danel Goleman the study of the giving virus amde a huge influence on my life and I had may years of joy from doing my own experiments. I had a knee injury which lead to my being bullied in the workplace and 20 ish years later I still have that injured knee amoung other long standing injuries and I have still not recieved mental health treatment. I was recently bullied again and took several packs of perscription medication I was found several days later by my parents who I live with. I was told by the Doctor that I was very hard work all I could think was why did you bother ? I have been out for several months and as much as I want to send them a thankyou card, chocolates and cake I just cant bring myself to do it because they should have let me die as nothing has changed. Well actually thats not right I now have a problem with my other leg as well. Do you know what the real shame is with the weeks that I was in hospital I realsied that I would love to do nursing as a job because its got being nice baked right in there and people apreciate you for being like that ! Sadly there is no way that I could ever work for a company that would treat me like this, in fact I have come to the conclusion that when I have finnaly received medical treatment that leaving this country is the best thing that I can do and move to one that is more in line with my own thinking.
But then as you say there are parents to consider, I am the youngest my older brother has made it very clear for years that he will not be looking after them and now that I am not longer in a position to look after myself let alone my parents he is sticking to what he has said and we just have to go without and pay more bescuse we no longer have a way to get to ? Or buy large items etc. I spent my life with my Mum telling me I try to hard, I put in to much effort etc and I always said well if noone tries wouldnt it be a horrible place to live ! This went on for years and now I couldnt care less I just want to get well away from this country there is nothing here for me !
The only reason why I keep trying is if we all stop being nice what a horrible planet this would be ! Does that mean that people constantly walk all over me, take advantage, ignore me ect yep but I would much rather live however long I have left on this planet like me than ever become like them !

I/we have 3sons, all living far enough away to warrant a flight and often a hotel booking to see any of them. We do our very best to keep some kind of a family together, but it is difficult as we go to see them, more than they come to see us. We have in the past funded holidays in order to bring the family together, but it is difficult, especially as one son is now married with 4 children and living as far away as he possibly could. I feel they are not really grateful for all the money we spend on them and unless they are getting exactly what they want out of a proposition, they are not really interested and it is obvious. After 10+ years of doing this, it is wearing thin. Our youngest son gets married in a few weeks time, but for various reasons, his brother with the 4 children is literally making a flying visit to be at the wedding. He is coming alone. Recently I saw one of those posts that are so frequent these days, but this particular one really hit home. "Don't take people for granted. No matter how much they love you, people get tired eventually. We are all given chances, but you never know when the last chance may be". Unfortunately, this is where I am now. Tired,sad and frustrated at trying to do the right thing by everyone and getting little gratitude in return. They are very happy to take, but give little back, especially of their time. The holiday we funded in June 2015 may well be the last chance. They are already talking "holidays" and I feel they are just waiting for us to say - book it and we will pay for it, but I have decided it is time to make a stand,even if it means I don't get to see my grandchildren. The time comes when you feel you are just being manipulated and used

Dear Brenda,

We, like yourself are in the same boat. I feel that our children's generation is just take take take with no give and no gratitude. I go by the adage that 'we love our children but the children love their children'. Hats off to you for deciding to put your foot down. Enough is enough. Just tell them in a nice way that money is getting very tight and that you have great difficulty in finding for their travel. Please try and understand our predicament. We love you and the grandkids tremendously and long to spend time with you but just don't have the money any more. If they sincerely love you they will understand. Hope this helps. May God bless you in a great way.

To Brenda Smith. I know how it feels to have a child who has decided you are not worthy of being included in their life. My son lives 40 miles away and I haven't seen or heard from him in 5 years. He does connect with his sister on social media and she in turn sends me information. I have prayed about it and come to the conclusion that if God doesn't fix it, it won't be fixed. I used to worry about the relationship, but I no longer do that. I have another son who is attentive and I concentrate on him and my daughter. Now is the time for you to enjoy yourself and what you have accomplished in life. So get some counseling if necessary and begin to love yourself like no one else can and don't make any apologies for not 'buying' your son's attention. Be blessed and happy.

Dear Dr. Kim,
Thank you for sharing your life story. Thank you for the loving and generous son that you are to your parents and to others who come in contact with you.

Each of us born in our different countries are brought up in the traditional values and traditions of that country. Being an Indian, an Asian like yourself I can immediately identify with the sentiments, feelings and emotions of your parents as well as that of you as a son being always indebted to them - not as a necessity but as a deep deep love for the parents who had to struggle and sacrifice so much.

My husband and I are now retired. Life was a struggle but by the grace of God have managed to set aside enough money to have a more than comfortable retired life. Our married kids continually tell us to 'enjoy life' - travel the world, visit expensive restaurants, etc. but the culture that we were brought up in comes to the forefront, i.e. How do we waste away our savings when our children could have need for it in their future lives. They may now always be financially sound - so every penny that we leave behind for them may help them at some point in their future lives. This thought comes from a deep love for them and not at all from a sense of duty.

Thank you Dr. Ben and may God our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ always bless you and your family.

Thank you, Dr Ben, for this and your many other gifts. I have an email folder called DBK for all the helpful bits of information you've sent my way that I haven't had time to look at just then. Most recently, the video and article on knee exercises is one I have finally decided to commit to for my operable arthritic left knee. Will let you know how it goes.

This article on resentment is timely for me since I'm in a deep hole where my years of giving time, money, handmade objects and other manifestations of caring to my son, his wife and children, as well as a nonprofit I was deeply committed to have yielded pure indifference on all sides. When my husband was hospitalized and I had a nervous breakdown from stress there was a great silence. I'm trying to teach myself to lose attachment to outcomes and nourish the various parts of myself as best I can, because clearly resentment harms no one but the resenter.

You are a luminous online presence, Dr. Ben Kim, and a model for us all as we learn to live in a world that has evolved beyond the ideals of cooperation and spiritual grounding that enabled us to become such complex organisms.

I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but here's my thought that I'd like to share. Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your parents, maybe there comes a point where you may want to share with your parents how you really feel. For example, to acknowledge to them that you love them and want giving to be more than just about being a dutiful good son, and that you are trying to find your way around this that feels true to your own spirit and nature, so that your giving will ultimately be genuinely from the heart and not from traditional compliance, and what other feelings and thoughts you might want to say. The way I see it, this really is a clash of old world, new world cultures. For eons, traditions have dictated our behaviours and we judge a person's goodness, filialty by how dutiful they are to keeping these traditions. No one likes to stick out and go against the rulebook (aka tradition), but the thing is, as we reflect more mindfully on our lives and question who we are, we grow and begin to see beyond the unquestioned ways of being, and we want to be more genuine and heartfelt. It's all a part of our growth, our journey. And it makes us uncomfortable, brings up feelings of guilt, because suddenly we are not in sync with our loved ones who are still practising what they have been taught and unquestioned. So, i believe the bridge is communication. I don't know that it'll be easy. Perhaps praying for guidance, for the right approach, and even for the right words before embarking on this will help. I know it helps me all the time. Sometimes, we can sit and rationalize and analyse and try to twist ourselves into an emotional pretzel so that we won't cause anyone any pain, but there is no comfort in growth. I hope this makes sense. I'm only drawing on my own life experiences. I am grateful for your sharing and I wish you well.

Vernon Howard talks about this in his books. He basically says we have to learn to give without feeling obligated.

One should always strive not to be a burden to others. Period.

A parent should not "count" on becoming a willful burden.

Sure, there are many occasions when one is in the need, and accepting generously offered help is the only thing one can do. And there are yet other unhappy occasions when one is in such need that one grabs help whether it's offered or not... But, as a healthy aim, one should always strive to develop one's life so as to be able not to tax others, regardless of who these "others" are: offspring, family, friends, or the society in general.

An additional healthy aim, besides not burdening others, and beyond the ability to negotiate and exchange productively and fairly, is the ability to also give generously, without expecting something in return. Giving with the expectation of a return is more of a negotiation than an act of generosity: negotiations are fair when they are explicit, and freely accepted by both parties.

Some cultures allow parents to feel they're entitled to tax their offspring, consciously weighing on them in their older years. I feel that this attitude of entitlement is unhealthy, unfair, undesirable. Again: falling and needing help can happen, and is normal; but engineering it by choice, or as a life goal, is an unfair appropriation of a piece of someone else's life.

We are not entitled to any substantial piece of anyone else's life. Others may decide to dedicate their whole heart to us (out of generosity, of love, of gratitude, or of anything else they wish), but as adults we should never feel "entitled" to such a gift, not even as parents. We may decide to have and raise kids, to dedicate our life to them, and to fill them with wholehearted love throughout their life: it is *our* choice, not theirs (at least until they are adults... and even then, our weight in their hearts and minds, often, restrains the real freedom of their choices). Parenthood, or, rather, morally correct parenthood, is a very generous choice, and a very sacred one: it is not an explicit negotiation, nor an implied exchange unwillingly signed by our newborns, and we should not "expect" a return from our kids because of our choices.

Thank you, dear Dr Kim, for sharing with us your experience, and your intermittent feelings of sadness with regards to giving. I hope that my thoughts shared above might encourage you to consider that "accepting your occasional bouts of resentment as moments of your own frailty" is not your only option. It might be helpful to perceive the situation differently: someone you love has had a suboptimal behavior (like we all do), and this hurts you. Your parents have unfairly inscribed a debt in your books, and their/your culture allows them to reach into your basket without you feeling that this is your choice.

Now, when someone unwillingly hurts us, the most noble way to react is with tolerance, forgiveness, and generous help. This is hard to do: the hardest generosity to achieve is not that of giving for free when we're well, but that of tolerating and caring gracefully when we're hurt. In this hardship, it is at least of good mental relief to have a reasoned perception of whether the source of the pain is our own weakness, or rather someone else's weakness.

Caring for your parents is one of the most noble and wonderful things you can do. This may include tolerating and caring for their weaknesses, and accepting or welcoming an attitude that, in time, you may have come to judge as a cultural flaw (with all the psychological difficulties that a judgment on our parents entails). When/whether to engage in noble and wonderful behavior is your own free and intimate choice. When you generously choose to engage in noble behavior, with reasoned perception, you will not feel resentment.

With warmest regards and fond thoughts.

There is a great little book called "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran published in 1923. I like what he says about giving and recommend it to you.

Oh dear Dr. Kim, I read your story and was saddened. The juxtaposition of your life, walking the tight rope of what you need to do and want to become, and what your parents needed, was truly heartbreaking. I understand that traditions and expectations, are always around~ But, I am a true believer in the Bible verse, give them a fish for the day and they will eat, but teach them how to fish and they can eat for a lifetime. Doesn't and individual want to be their own self supporting free person, I think and would hope so. God bless you and your family, and all who carry enormous responsibility. There are always solutions, even if they are not 100%, seek and you will find xo

Your quote is a very good one, but it is not from the bible but from Mao-Zhe-Dong!

Dr. Kim,

Thank you for being honest and sharing your insights. I am also a second generation Korean-American and can relate to what you are saying in regards to the expectations of Korean parents of our generation. I feel our generation feels very responsible because our parents immigrated with nothing, worked themselves to the bone, and still managed to raise a family and assimilate into American culture to varying degrees. I just wanted to add my two cents.

I have two friends that are Korean American second generation kids. One is a successful newscaster and she has given her mom $1,000.00 every month as spending allowance ever since she started working as an anchor. Even though her mom has money of her own, she's thrilled to be spoiled by her daughter and even though she has three children, only her oldest anchor daughter is expected to give her spending money every month. She wants this money mostly for lots of bragging rights, etc. It taxes my friend from time to time because she knows her mom expects this and doesn't want it to ever end. On the contrary.

Another friend is a successful dentist and her parents literally ask her for the best mercedes (s 500 series), spending cash, and take whatever they want from their daughter. I'm a real estate agent and sold her a house 10 years ago. She loved it and was excited to move in. When her parents came to check it out, they loved it too and took the house for themselves. They have since sold the house, but she has supported them 100% and they like to lead an extravagant lifestyle. Including their condo, car, and monthly expenses...it totals over $6,000 every month. One day she was so fed up she blew up and cut her parents off. She felt the stress everyday of sustaining them and although she loved them she felt they were spoiled and expected everything from her, no question. They weren't grateful, they were expectant. Since then she has tried to mend her parents by trying to retrain them. Sounds harsh, but these are her words. She has spent her entire adult life saying yes to whatever they want and never said no . Also, her father is the youngest son and has 3 older sisters. They always took care of him his whole childhood/early adult life. When my friend was old enough they were relieved and said the burden falls on you now. So sometimes I think Korean parents can be a little ridiculous...maybe its because they lived in War times and just need to be spoiled, badly. Who better than their kids?

Its's funny because being a second generation Korean American, and now mom of 3, my husband and I think of how we can support our kids even when we are gone. By them a duplex? Leave them savings to buy a house? They are why we work and save so hard. But we also realize its not only financial support, that's only a small part. We strive to love them and be there for them in all ways. Most that means being present and trying to work less so we can spend more time together. We try to not spoil them and try and make sure they are the kind of people who can appreciate hard work, flesh out their life skills/think for themselves, and be self actualized happy people.

God bless!

I am greek orthodox. And we firmly believe that our sins are forgiven in two ways; confession(with repentance) and charity. Charity that includes even giving to our parents. After all the aim of this life is to attain salvation. Your giving is making that salvation more attainable for you. May God give you good health and love
so that you may continue your good deeds. It is a much higher authority that we serve.

Hi Dr. Kim,
How wonderfully open and interesting this essay of your is.
Thank you for sharing the background of your family and your thoughts as genuinely and honestly as you have here.
Recently, I played the tennis elbow exercises for a friend who is a tennis pro.
I told him that I wanted to be just like you , actually, I said i wanted to BE you as I was so inspired by your presence.
I was inspired as well by the words of Eckard Tolle that you included on the page..I forgot how clear and true his words are for me.
I turn to your website often and I truly thank you for your generosity and wisdom and willingness to share for the purpose of our greater wisdom.
Warm regards,
Matthew

Dear Dr. Kim,
I stumbled upon your blog while looking for answers on the flu. I enjoyed your insightful article on letting the flu take its course, but I found deeper meaning in reading this blog about your folks and some mixed feelings you have in helping them. I am not Korean American, but my parents are elderly and I, as the only daughter, have taken much of the responsibility of caring for them and trying to keep them from harm's way. I have in no way shared with my folks as generously as you have with yours, but in recent years I have found that I long to provide for them, whether by buying groceries, things for the house, whatever. My dear father recently died in his 90s, and after his death I struggled with a sense of shame, wishing that I had done more to show him far more patience, grace, and love. He had dementia, my dear Dad, but he was still "with it." One day, not so long ago, I said, "Daddy, is there anything I can get you? If you wanted one thing, what would it be?" He said, "Nothing. Just keep loving me." I identify with your situation in that we are, some of us, by culture or heart, bound to our parents, as if a religious calling. I salute you for doing all that you have done, and in realizing that there are limitations on your abilities to provide for them. I think, now on this side of my father's death, that I would say, do what you can in love and sobriety, so that you can know that you did well in years to come. God bless your parents! You write so eloquently about them.

I can relate to your post as I am a first generation Chinese American. I grew up in the US but was instilled with my parents' cultural roots about family, education, etc. I don't have a brother (only a younger sister), so as the eldest daughter I've adopted the care taking role in my family. I've appreciated what my parents have done for me and like you, wanted to sincerely give back to them in my adulthood. I found myself giving back to them financially, emotionally and physically with my time and energy at almost every opportunity that presented itself. I started to feel unappreciated and upset. I thought I was doing such a great helping my parents so why was I feeling upset. I realized I sincerely wanted to give back to my parents and be there for them, just not to the magnitude I had been giving. I had to be clear with myself about how much could I give and be a happy giver. Once I determined that and followed through on my end I was able to fully enjoy giving to my parents more than before. I also would often ask myself how I would perceive this situation when I looked back at this event after they had passed on. I also would think about how much they had done for me when I was a baby to take care of me when I needed that kind of support. I felt this was my opportunity to be their parent when they could rest and enjoy their later years. I think your heart is very kind and sincere and you deserve to receive support, appreciation, love, etc just as much as you give genuine care to others. Above all, one day our parents will leave the planet and it is those heartfelt moments which made you a better person which are the gifts our parents give us for generations to come.

I don't think there is one short answer to the question of giving. In general, I prefer to be anonymous - but having said that there are times when it is good to know, as a receiver, when someone has been generous towards me. Thank you for all your posts.

 

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