Family Obligations -- and reciprocation

This is more of a general anthropological survey, not a question of estate practices*. I thought I’d split this off MachinaForce’s other thread because it seems worthwhile to compare and discuss on its own.

I worked for a Mexican man who grew up in Tijuana and had worked his way up to owning three franchise gym locations. I worked in the central office, handling paperwork for the gym sites. I noticed very early that, as each of his nephews (he had a lot of siblings) became old enough for work, somebody would call Uncle O and say, “Hey, _________ needs a job.” and I’d end up filling out paperwork for a trainer or receptionist or sales person. I asked him about that one day and he said, “Yeah, I made it. They look up to me. They want help making it, too, so what can I do? I give 'em jobs to get their feet in the door – but I don’t treat them any different once they’re in. They can make it on their own or find someplace else to work but they don’t get special treatment.”

After my sister and mother visited relatives in Japan, my sister noted that our grandparents were living with our uncle, still in the same house where they raised the family. Our eldest brother commented, “I’m glad we’re in America, where that’s not a tradition.”

One of my wife’s friends complained to her that, when her mother was ill, she was driving 3 hours up the coast every weekend (more frequently if needed) to take care of her mother and the family’s house and property – and when the estate was settled everything went to an elder sister who had never visited or spent a dime to help.

And there’s MachineaForce’s example…

…and my anecdote in response…

And, so the questions I throw out for discussion are:

[li]How are you expected to contribute to your family (and extended family, if relevant)?[/li][li]How is your family (and extended family, if relevant in the above question) expected to reciprocate?[/li][li]How does your family (and extended…) actually contribute/reciprocate?[/li][li]What is your cultural background and do you consider the above answers to be typical of that culture?[/li][/ul]

[Some of you may be living in cultures that are different from your own; your observations and interpretations of your host culture are as welcome as your observations/interpretations of your own culture/family.]

  • Even though I make note of one in my anecdotes.
    $ So what might sound like a voluntary donation of whatever amount was more like a required minimal contribution.