“My mother wants me to pay her back for raising me”

…Mother-daughter relationship rifted by money.
By Noluthando Mdayi
28-year-old *Cindy Zwane says she and her mother whom she affectionately calls ‘Mamzo’ have always been close because she had always been there for her.

“She spent the better half of my childhood navigating the model-C school system we could barely afford, attending parents meetings, and going to sporting events all by herself,” says Cindy.

“She worked tirelessly to get me through my three-year corporate communication degree. And since she and I were always very tight, it only made the events that unfolded later on all the more painful to endure,” the 28-year-old adds.

Unfortunately Cindy’s mother was sacked from her job right after her graduation and she says life was very tough for a couple of months thereafter.

“Luckily, I got offered a great entry level position at a reputable company. It came with an unbelievably good salary.

“After a lifetime spent nickel-and-diming my way through life, I was finally going to have some breathing room, but my excitement was short-lived,” she explains.

Cindy says she had always dreamed of building a house for her mother, and when she was offered a permanent position at work, that was the first thing on her agenda.

“Mamzo was overjoyed when the construction began. However, months following that – all she ever wanted from me was money.’

On top of taking care of my siblings, paying house utilities, construction workers and buying groceries, she charges me an extra R 1 000 for using her furniture and demands a monthly allowance of R 3 000,” she reveals.

The 28-year-old says arguments over money soon started, and only got worse when she introduced her boyfriend to her mother.

“She told me I could not think about getting married – not until I have paid everything that is due to her.

“I feel like she is making me pay for raising me. I’m eternally grateful to her, but I feel bitter and depressed,” she admits.

Relationship expert and author of Embracing conflict and Embracing no Paula Quinsee, says Cindy will need to have an honest conversation with her mother.

“She may need to show her a detailed breakdown of her earnings and expenses and any disposable income she may have left over and the impact of the financial expectations being placed on her,” Paula advises.

“Her mother may well have provided for her education and upbringing but that does not mean she is entitled to her money,” she highlights.

The relationship expert continues to explain that Cindy needs to finally draw the line. “As hard as it may be, she is going to have to put some firm boundaries down as to what she can and can’t afford.

Her mother seems to have unrealistic expectations in requesting her to pay R1 000 for using furniture whereas those funds could be put to better use elsewhere, as well as instructing her not to get married until she has paid her dues which is unfair and unreasonable,” she elaborates.

Paula acknowledges that addressing this situation directly may go against her cultural traditions and suggests she explores getting input from a trusted family member who will act as a mediator.

*Names have been changed.