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Aussie mum's whinge over Millennial kids' selfish expectation: 'Costs so much'

A mum has sparked a heated debate by asking how she should navigate dinners out with adult children who don't offer to pay.

An Aussie mum has complained she has had to pull back on spending time with her family as her children expect her to cop the bill when they eat out.
An Aussie mum has complained she has had to pull back on spending time with her family as her children expect her to cop the bill when they eat out. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As cost of living pressures continue to weigh on Aussies a generous mum has sparked a heated debate after asking fellow parents how they handle payments when they take their adult children out for a meal. The mum said despite being in their "mid-twenties and thirties" her children and their partners expect her to cover the bill when they head out.

She said none of her children even offered to contribute to the cost of the outing. And it's now getting to the point where they “no longer can do family things because it costs so much.”

Some Aussies argued that it was about time adult children treated their parents, while others suggested that an arrangement needs to be worked out ahead of time.

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Yahoo Finance spoke to two experts about the divisive issue. But what do you think?

More and more Australians are finding it difficult to afford to eat out and the answer appears to be that they simply don't.

But when it comes to family gatherings, putting together a meal at home can also be costly.

So, what do the experts think when it comes to dividing the bill?

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Family law expert Margo Orbell, from Olive Branch Mediation, is also a mother of four and she told Yahoo Finance that unless there is a large pay disparity everyone should pay their own way.

“I have worked in this field for a while, so clear boundaries, expectations and hard conversations are the norm in our house," the family law mediator said.

It's clear the cost of living has forced adults to seek more financial help from their parents.

Recent research from Insights Exchange found that number is as high as 60 per cent and could be causing more friction within families.

Orbell said there's been a rising number of Australian families seeking mediation "regarding live-at-home adult-children and expectations around family".

This is when she said it's important for families to set boundaries early, so they aren't left feeling "taken advantage of".

Margot Orbell.
Margot Orbell said it's best that everyone pays for themselves. (Source: Supplied)

There is a scenario consumer behaviour expert Professor Gary Mortimer thinks is acceptable for children to expect their parents to foot the bill.

“I think it’s appropriate for the parents to pay if they have initiated the event," the QUT Business School professor told Yahoo Finance.

This goes both ways, if a child has suggested the family goes out.

“Obviously if it’s the alternative and the adult child has made the decision to create the event whether it's a coffee or a cafe lunch, then the obligation would naturally be on them.”

Many Australian parents admitted they were in the same boat and were quick to weigh in.

“You fed them all their lives, it’s about time they started looking after you,” one person said.

"You need to have an honest conversation with each of them that either we will rotate who pays for the full meal or split out each person's amount at the meal," another said.

"I have been paying my way and shouting my parents since I left home at 18," a parent said.

"If your kids went out with anyone else they would expect to pay their way. Why not with you? They need to grow up a little."

It may seem cut and dry to some, but Mortimer pointed out there can be many mitigating factors in family disputes like these.

For instance, some parents may have paid off their mortgages, while younger Australians are facing high interest rates or rents.

“It’s a really good point to make that young adults in their early 20s could be in different financial stages," he said.

"Some are probably in tertiary education, they may be working casually, struggling to pay rent, run a vehicle and save for a home.

"I think most parents would be more willing to help them out."

But the same can also be true on the flip side. Some young professionals are in much better financial positions than their parents.

“You could have another child who’s been working since they were 16 with $100,000 in savings, it's a different conversation," he said.

Orbell noted building foundational boundaries also helped children be "independent and grow respectful, adult relationships” and wouldn't "enable them to expect handouts".

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