Only Child Of ‘Broke Boomers’ Who Didn’t Save For Retirement Now Has To Take Care Of The Parents Who Never Cared For Her

What forms of care do we owe each other?

older couple Matheus Bertelli / Pexels 

There are certain aspects of becoming an adult without clear answers. As we grow up, we learn that some journeys have no roadmaps and we’re charting the path as we go.

This is especially true of navigating our relationships with our parents. How do we relate to one another as grown-ups?

How we care for each other becomes even more complex as parents age and need more than we might be able or willing to give them.


The only child of ‘broke boomers’ who never saved money is taking care of the parents who didn’t care for her.

A teacher named Lars shared her story, in a vulnerable and open way, as she sought guidance from others who’ve traversed similar territory.



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Lars described herself as “The only child of boomers who did not save for retirement.” She explained that, as such, her parents “can no longer sustain the life they’ve lived for 50 plus years and are now being forced to move in with me across the country.”

Lars was processing this major change in real-time, touching on a very complicated question: What do we owe our caregivers, if they didn’t fully care for us in childhood?

“I lived so much of my young adult life without any money,” Lars shared. “My parents don’t approve of my lifestyle. I’m gay and my partner and I just bought our first house together in the spring last year.”

“It’s really hard for me to navigate the space where I feel like I’m the only person that can help them and that is going to help them, but at the same time, where were they when I needed help when I was in college and didn’t have any money and no support through that whole process?”


She laid her situation out clearly: She’s in her late 30s, her parents are in their early 70s, and “we’re being faced with these big life changes and I feel like I literally have no option.”

Lars offered more context to her story, describing how she and her partner decided to have “a hard discussion” with her parents after her dad’s company closed 10 years ago. They tried to convince her parents to downsize to live within their means



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Yet ultimately, her parents refused to make the changes they needed to support themselves for their future, leaving the weight of that burden to fall onto Lars’ shoulders. 

“Over the course of 10 years, I’ve watched my parents really just totally decline in physical health, mental health, financial health,” she said. “For a period of time, I actually did cut them off for a while, because it was, like, devastating to me to see them in the state that they were in.”

Only Child Of Broke Boomers Has To Take Care Of The Parents Who Never Cared For Her Photo: Mart Production / Pexels 


With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Lars says her eyes opened to how dire her parents’ situation had become. 

“Over the last four years, it’s gotten even worse, to the point where there’s really not any other option,” she said. 

Lars determined that the only thing to do was help her parents sell their house and let them live with her as they transition to this next phase of their lives.

Yet Lars acknowledged how taxing this decision has been for her and her partner, both emotionally and financially, as they both work as teachers and live paycheck-to-paycheck.

“We’re better off than my parents because we’re not in, like, humongous amounts of debt, other than student loans and stuff like that,” she explained. “It’s really hard to try and navigate the space when you’re an adult child, your parents are not making the right decisions, they’re totally detached from their situation, and it all seems to be to, like, save face to their friends and to extended family who doesn’t even live near them, who’s never even stepped up to help,” she continued.  


Only Child Of Broke Boomers Has To Take Care Of The Parents Who Never Cared For HerPhoto: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels  

The rest of TikTok has received Lars’ story with both care and firmness, with many people saying that she doesn’t owe her parents any support.

A TikTok account called Honest Personal Finance offered just that, stitching Lars’ post to say, “It is not your job to save for someone else’s retirement… Especially since we know the economic barriers they were facing versus what our generation is facing.”




MJistooearly, who described herself as “an only child of a single boomer parent,” offered Lars her take on the situation, saying, “From one only child to another, you’re not obligated to take care of your parents.”



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“If they don’t approve of your lifestyle, moving them in is not going to make it any better,” she continued, offering up a difficult truth. Her final word of advice was, “Protect your peace at all costs.”

Lars, herself, touched on the complexities of being gay with parents who don’t fully support that facet of her identity.

“Being gay has everything and nothing to do with the challenges that we’re facing,” she said. “I have never told them that I’m gay, simply because my mom has said numerous times that if I’m gay, don’t tell her.”



She shared that her parents accept her partner “as what they call, ‘their second daughter,’ so I feel like that’s the best that we can do.”


“When you’re talking to someone who is gay and you know that their families don’t accept them, it’s really challenging, especially if that person is not inherently rich,” Lars said, explaining that much of her professional success as a teacher means staying closeted. “In the education field especially, we just can’t be open and out and expect to keep your job,” she shared, touching on the fact that her lived experience hasn’t been one where she’s felt safe being out.

“I have lived the majority of my adult life in the closet and opening up to close friends as I felt comfortable,” she said. “It’s just been recently, since the pandemic, basically, when I realized life is actually super short and I want to live an authentic life.”

While it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and tell people like Lars to set boundaries to protect themselves and to put their own needs first, it’s a whole other experience when you exist in what feels like an impossible situation.

Lars is approaching her parents’ financial devastation with a huge amount of empathy, especially when they don’t outright accept or acknowledge a crucial part of her identity

The act of protecting her peace might look different at different times throughout this process of offering care to parents who haven’t given her the same level of care that they expect for themselves. 


There is no simple truth here, except for the one: That ultimately, Lars deserves to feel safe and held, for exactly who she is. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.