Ask Amanda: My Friend Judges Me for Relying on My Parents for Money
posted on October 30, 2015 | by Amanda Holstein
I have been feeling very self-conscious lately around one of my closest friends. We are both attending college but live off campus and commute to school. I am in school full time, and am fortunate enough to have my parents pay for my tuition and rent while I am in school.
My friend however, is working to put herself through school and pays for her own rent and personal expenses. I grew up learning that talking about money wasn’t very polite, so it makes me very uncomfortable when my friend constantly asks me intrusive questions about my cost of living and how I am paying for it all. She often talks about her own personal expenses as well, including how much her rent is and how much she is making at her job. I can’t help but feel judged by her because of the fact that I am not yet self-sufficient. She often makes snide comments about people whose parents help provide for them. It makes me feel self-conscious to go anywhere with her that involves spending money.
I have let her know on more than one occasion that it makes me feel uncomfortable to talk about it, but it doesn’t seem to stop her. I feel like she feels superior to me because she is providing for herself and I am not. I think she is also under the impression that I don’t work hard, which is very frustrating. How do I stop feeling self-conscious about this? How do I let her know that it is an impolite subject to talk about?
Thanks for your email! I can totally relate to this. During college and a couple years after, I relied on my parents a bit for income but was also extremely hard-working. I was very self-conscious about it as well, but realized most of that self-consciousness was coming from within. We often project onto other people what we fear within ourselves. So for example, maybe you judge yourself for not being self-sufficient yet or worry that it means you’re not hardworking. So then you assume others think that as well. The truth is, there are going to be people that think that, but that doesn’t make it true. Before you worry about how your friend feels, you need to focus on how you genuinely feel about it. Are you secure about the fact that your parents help you? Do you doubt your ability to be self-sufficient?
For me, I realized I was judging myself so it made me self-conscious. I had to build up my own confidence and truly believe I am a hard-working individual who is genuinely grateful for my parents help. I knew that I didn’t take advantage of them, and that I genuinely wanted to be self-sufficient and was doing everything I could to get there. Once I was able to feel that, it didn’t matter what others thought or how they may have judged me.
People our age do talk about money more openly so there’s nothing you can do about that except do what feels comfortable to you. If your friend makes a comment about people who rely on their parents, you should respond and tell her (in a calm, non-attacking way) that when she says those things, it makes you wonder if she’s judging you or thinks you’re not hard working. She may even be more stressed about her own life and having to make enough money on her own, that it just makes her feel better to put down people who are in your situation. And if she were in your situation, she would probably happily accept the help from her parents – and that doesn’t make her (or you) a bad person.
Let me know if this helps and don’t be so hard on yourself!
Hey Kristen, I had the same reaction from friends when I was in school. My dad’s attitude was, “You do have a job, you’re a college student.” Getting an A was a full ride; getting a B meant I was paying for my books and supplies; getting a C meant I was paying for books, supplies and my own rent; getting a D meant I was “fired” and on my own. You may not have that kind of agreement with your parents, but remember that your job right now is to be a hard working college student. And straight A’s now mean promotions and good salaries later.
Emily S Says
I would say to Kristen that I’ve been there…I know exactly how this feels. My parents worked hard, came from a very minimal life, and were able to provide for my brother and myself well beyond what they had growing up. They paid our college tuition and rent during college. They were very practical about all of this…state schools, “allowances” on what they’d give us for expenses, and we needed to get jobs during nights and weekends for “fun” (movie tickets, clothes shopping, anything else.) In their eyes they were allowing us to work hard and study in school and not have to stress. Be proud of how hard your parents have worked to do this for you. But…I also know what it’s like to feel judged for this very thing. It’s hard out there, college and living expenses are not cheap, and not everyone is as fortunate as you and I. There is some resentment there; “jealousy” is another way to put it, but I hate to say it that way because it makes it sound as though they’re not incredibly proud of all they’re accomplishing on their own. I remember when I finally had a “slow” semester and took on far more hours at work. I finally told my parents, please, let me take this semester to support myself, and I did! I was so proud! It felt SO good. But the following semester I had to change it up and went back to relying on them to get me through. Just know that your hard work in school WILL help you get to a place where you can support yourself and enjoy that feeling. Maybe remind your friend that you’re very thankful for the way your parents can help you out and that you’re proud of them for getting to that place. You could also mention that privilege isn’t something you have any control over; you shouldn’t be shamed for it.
I agree with Amandas advice, and would add my personal side, because I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve been lucky enough through college and the years after to get help from my parents in some aspects, which I was always grateful for (though would often feel like people were looking down on me not entirely supporting myself). However, I have many friends and former roommates that had rent and tuition paid for that I was soooo jealous of! There were plenty of times I felt a bit superior for supporting myself but I was also so envious that they had such huge expenses paid for (and will never know what $50,000 of debt feels like). There’s plus sides to both, of course. But my biggest advise to to be grateful for what you have in life– you get a huge value as a person for working hard for something and you should be proud of that. But its natural to be envious of the other side and that’s okay, but money isn’t worth ruining a friendship over….if she’s not respecting you when you confront her about your feelings on this, that’s a different issue entirely.