What Rights do Parents Have Over their Children’s Money?

“It’s not that I don’t want to spend my money on my mother, but I barely have enough to survive,” is what I constantly hear from people I know.

Throughout my life, I’ve witnessed quite a number of complicated situations regarding parents’ rights over their children’s money. People question this as if there’s only one answer, but in reality, it all depends on the situation, context, and financial stability of both the parents and children. 

Due to ignorance and lack of knowledge, parents and children experience wealth imbalance. It may be that children feel pressured to support their parents financially when they, themselves are in the struggling phases of their life. It is indeed a complex situation but thankfully, Islam has highlighted what the duties of children are to their parents and has also laid the foundation of what constitutes a good parent.

What Do the Quran and Hadith Say about Spending on Parents?

It is undeniable that parents place an important role in Islam. Parents are highly esteemed and respectable as mentioned in both the Quran and Hadith.

 وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّۢ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًۭا كَرِيمًۭا ٢٣

For your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And honor your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your care, never say to them “even” “ugh,” nor yell at them. Rather, address them respectfully. [Qur’an 17:23]

A man asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Which of the people is most deserving of my good companionship? He said, Your mother. He said: Then who? He said: Then your mother. He said: Then who? He said: Then your mother. He said: Then who? He said: Then your father. [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is reported on the authority of Abdullah that the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah (SWT) observed:

The best of the deeds or deeds is the (observance of) prayer at its proper time and kindness to the parents. [Sahih Muslim]

We are asked to be kind and dutiful to our parents. If we suspect our parents are financially struggling, then as children, we must take on the responsibility of supporting them, if we can. According to Ibn al-Mundhir, “The scholars unanimously agreed that spending on poor parents who have no income or wealth is an obligation on the child’s wealth.” 

Parents’ Rights on Children’s Money According to the Shari’ah

So, now that we understand the importance of respecting and being kind towards parents, what does Shariah say about financially supporting them?

First and foremost, it is essential to understand the Islamic rulings of roles and responsibilities of the individual:

  1. If the child is married, the Qur’an and the Sunnah emphasize that a husband is obligated to provide for his wife according to his financial means. This responsibility arises from the marriage contract and applies regardless of the wife’s wealth, poverty, or personal income. It is not expected for a married woman to financially support herself.
  1. According to the Shari’ah, if the child is not married, parents do not have the legal authority to dispose of their adult children’s property, including salaries, without their explicit consent.
  1. Parents possess the right to care for and financially support their children, regardless of their marital status or age, especially if their children require financial assistance. It is incumbent upon children to show kindness and provide for their parents.

In short, children are highly encouraged to spend on their parents if they have the means to do so, without restricting themselves and harming their own needs due to lack of financial instability, but they are not obligated unless their parents are in desperate need to survive.

Another important note is that parents are not allowed to consume their child’s sustenance or property without their consent, which means that it has to be a mutual agreement between both parties and should not be forced or coerced.

How to Explain to Your Parents That You’re Financially Strapped

Some parents misquote Quranic verses and Hadiths to gain leverage over their children and burden them. There are also parents who feel that it is their well-deserved right to use and abuse their child’s wealth since they are the ones who raised their children over the years. If a child refuses to support their parents financially they often receive backlash and are blackmailed.

Although, many parents go through immense trials to raise their children they must be understanding of their child’s financial situation.

How do you communicate your concerns to your parents about the inability to provide for them when you don’t have enough and communicate the message in a way that doesn’t hurt their feelings? Here are five suggestions you can use:

1. Sit Down and Pen Your Thoughts

Before you confront your parents about this sensitive issue, it is important for you to organize and structure your thoughts. Things can get a bit messy if your points and arguments are all over the place, so write down what you want to say.

2. Make Du’a before you Speak

Before you speak, it is essential for you to keep your intentions rectified and recite the appropriate duas for your ease. Prophet Musa recited this dua for ease in his speech.

رَبِّي اِشْرَحْلِي صَدْرِي وَ يَسِّرْلِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي

Rabbi-isyrahli sadri, wa yassir li amri, wahlul ‘uqdatam-min lisaani yafqahu qawli

“My Lord! Uplift my heart for me, and ease for me my task. And remove the impediment from my tongue, so that they may understand my speech.”

3. Be Transparent with Them

Sometimes, parents are completely blindsided and they don’t know the reality of your situation until you really explain it to them. If your parents are hard to be convinced, you can reveal to them your exact salary and the commitments you have so they have a better understanding of your financial situation. Set the tone in a kind and polite manner without making them feel that they are a burden to you.

4. Ask for their Suggestions

As much as you want to address your concerns about your inability to provide for them, you should also consider meeting their expectations halfway. Ask them for suggestions to make them feel involved in your issues. This will show them that you want to genuinely help them.

5. Remain Polite and Make Dua

Children should try their best to support their parents to the best of their ability and parents should be understanding of their children’s circumstances. However, if your parents continue to be difficult, make Dua that Allah (SWT) eases this trial for you. Remember, you must still be polite and kind to your parents.

I pray that Allah (SWT) grants barakah in your finances, makes you of those who can provide for your parents, and blesses the relationship between your parents and yourself, Ameen!