Supporting Married Kids – Are They Really Happy With It?


gemara-learningA common belief among parents of married children is that financially supporting them is a positive experience. However, that almost always is never the case.

A recent informal study done by Kollel Guy revealed that men who were supported by their parents or in-laws for a period of time have stated that they feel more comfortable and close with their parents or in-laws now when they are not being supported, when compared to the period in which they were receiving support.

This finding, which may seem shocking to some, is not really difficult to explain.

The reason is simple: Both the parents and the children don’t really feel that support is an even exchange. There is an inborn sense of shame when a person receives something for which they (and everyone else) know they are not entitled to. (A case in point: President Obama’s tepid acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.)

If parents of kollel members really felt their children deserved their support – which comes at great sacrifice – they wouldn’t resent them. If the kollel families would feel truly deserving of their parents’ support, they wouldn’t have any shame or guilt in accepting their support. Instead, there is this lopsided twist to the relationship, where the parents feel they are giving for no good reason and the children feel they are taking without really deserving it.

Since the kollel family – and others who receive support – has no other means of surviving, the mess continues on and gets progressively worse.

You may counter, “But isn’t supporting a young family while the husband learns the greatest thing one can do with money?” Yes, if it is being given (and taken) truly with those intentions. When those giving the support feel they are getting an equal (*or greater*) value in exchange.

How can you tell if you have the proper perspective on kollel support? Here’s an easy test: Assume you had an extra $15,000 a year. What would you do with that money? Would you use it to support your hard-working-but-not-rich neighbor’s kids in kollel, or would you treat yourself to a new sheitel / vacation / kitchen remodel? Most people would choose the latter. Why? Because even though supporting Torah is great, let someone else have that opportunity. That’s the popular mode of thinking.

Two friends of mine, who received kollel support in the early years of their marriage, when asked what they would do if they won the lottery, both said the same thing. “We would take all the money our parents / in-laws ever gave us, and give it all back to them. Thanks, but no thanks.”

Parents may not realize that their children are also not thrilled with the notion that they are being supported by their parents, sometimes at great personal sacrifice and with great strain.

Children must realize that if their parents are giving without “getting back” their money’s worth, its time to call it quits. There is nothing more miserable than living off parents who are begrudgingly parting with their money. Prove to them, and to yourself, that you really can do it on your own.

{Kollel Guy/ Newscenter}


  1. We live in a time when honest people have to write the obvious. While Kollel Guy is obviously right, what disturbs me more is what has become of us? Why is it that people don’t get this?

  2. You must have had a bad experience. We have gladly supported our kollel children until they went on their own in chinuch and rabbonis. We never made demands on them and they and their wives appreciate to this day the 5 to 9 years of serious learning it afforded them

  3. You gotta be kidding me. The guy whose learning is so good that should be learning and we should all be supporting, he doesnt feel guilty being supported cause he is ACTUALLY EARNING HIS LIVING. He is working for his parents/in laws, working in the job of Torah. Thats fine. Guilt comes from embarrassment and shame of not deserve. So go and deserve it.

  4. I dont think the reason they arent close is because they are receiving support. its because they just got married! I dont like the validity of the study when there is another variable!

  5. “or would you treat yourself to a new sheitel / vacation / kitchen remodel?” (are you pointing fingers at the mothers/women)

    How about treating yourself to a new LEXUS, vacation, hand-made Shabbos suit, Apple IPOD, and other Male needs???

  6. This article is trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Perhaps in some cases what you wrote may possibly be true but there is absolutely no way it can be true.

    What about the father or father in law who takes his kid into his business – do they also regret it? Is it also uncomfortable? Are you going to twist it and say there its different because at least they feel like they are getting something? If that is your answer then your problem is you hate being in kollel or you hate that your kid is in kollel since you are not Machshiv the Torah learning to be considered getting something in return for your support.

    I mean come on here – these are MY CHILDREN!!!!! – For goodness sake – if I am not going to take care of my children who will? someone else? And if I have a child who is working but not making ends meet do I not want to help in any way I can?

  7. Only by actually being in that position myself can I unequivocally state that everything written in this article is true plus some. Although people that either can’t support or don’t receive support can’t understand it, it is none the less very true including the part about giving back all the money after winning the lottery. Truth being told it is a well known fact that one of the reasons that a Neshoma is sent down to this world away from the Shchiena is so it can earn its rightful place in Shomayim and not be the recipient of Nehama D’Chsiphin .

  8. If anyone hands me money, I’ll take it.

    This setup is not the kids’ fault. It’s the parents who created this enviroment that kids are entitled to recieve “what everyone is getting”. This is the attitude they brought their kids up with from cradle and onward. Expensive camps, seminary, etc. that nobody can afford.
    As I say again and again- there is nothing not frum in having a decent job if you are not cut out to a. learn a whole day -don’t kvetch the bench b. you have no means of support (only rich parents can be counted on as a source of support)
    Tzaddikim in all generations have worked to support themselves. The parents have to teach their kids that there is nothing shameful about doing what you should be doing, not what everybody else is doing. These are not the ideas that kids are brought up these days with, so we cannot blame the kids. Very few people have the courage to go against the tide. Let the parents show the way for their kids, as is how it should be, not the other way around.

  9. Just because you feel embarrased and uncomfortable taking money doesn’t mean you don’t feel learning in kollel is worthwhile and a noble cause. You may want to learn but would like to do so without taking tzedaka (even if it’s your parents). Additionally you never know if your parents are really able to afford what they are giving you which also makes you feel uncomfortable. IN OTHER WORDS : One Kollel Guy’s gut feeling is not to be extrapolated to thousands of others while slandering them that they don’t appreciate the value of learning torah that they sacrifice so much for.

  10. I as a kollel man in lakewood, totaly agree 100 percent, I dont and never took a cent from parents or inlaws and I feel like a free man, and I am living better then my friends who are getting support.

  11. Why is this a chiddush? Rashi in Noach says this- better bitter olives from Hashem than treats from another human being. Nahama dekisufa is an old term.

  12. A father who supports a son as a kolell youngerman who is learning is creating zchusim for himself!
    The support of your child to learn Torah is before you give donations to your favorite Tzedakah. It is your private Yissachar Zivulun that will give Nachas in both worlds.

  13. Halevai I COULD help my kids. I’d be happy to help them with a down payment for a house, e.g. and if the boy seemed like a good investment, I’d be happy to support his learning (by the way, by good investment he wouldnt have to go into klei kodesh).

  14. maybe you feel this way, maybe some feel this way, but plenty of ppl totally don’t!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are ppl who really want to help their kids (do you begrudge the money you spend raising them all the years too?) and there are kids who are healthy with accepting what their parents have and want to share. Just my 0.02!

  15. As usual, people will misnterperate the article. I believe the author is equally taking about whether the child is working or learning. Bottom line? The children would rather not have to come onto others, even their parents.

    THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT, nothing more, nothing less.

    It has less to do with kollel than with taking and relying on others.

    He does bring up a side point that if you’re taking money, make sure you deserve it. THIS WOULD EQUALLY APPLY TO ONE who is working for his father in law and getting money from him – he better make sure that he desevres it and is doing work up to par, no less than what people would demand from a yungerman.

  16. Does this apply to a father in law supporting his son in Medical School. Give me a break. I managed to do the kollel and chinuch without help and was very happy about that. My friends who took support and also were legitimately learning were equally happy. This is subjective so how about “live and let live”

  17. The issue is that we don’t appreciate the importance of Kollel. That makes the recipient feel guilty as well as the benefactors do not fully appreciate the situation they are in… If we would appreciate it for what it really is we would all jump at the opportunity to support Kollel people. It’s part of golus… In any case those that support will surely be rewarded…

  18. To #19.
    Sorry, but the analogy doesn’t fit. A father supports his son in medical school as an investment in the young couple’s financial indepent future. For or against, that is not the same thing as kollel

  19. Fascinating discussion. What is missing is the fact that this would be easier for both parties if only the people who had it were giving it. This is not about an extra 15k lying around. This is about what need (of perhaps a younger child) or what credit card will fund the kollel based son-in-law. That’s hard to do – even if you want to do it and believe in it.

  20. To #21:

    And a father who supports his child in kollel has an even GREATER INVESTMENT!! If you don’t understand the investment, then you don’t value Torah learning. It is an investmnet in ruchniyus, an investment that pays lifelong dividends, here and in the next world.

  21. this is a basic fact of human nature that is explained in the gemarah- we resent the people we take from. no one likes to feel indebted to another.

  22. Someone who is being supported by his father in law because he is a good bochur learning in kollel and after a while he gets alittle burnt out or the support is not enough for a growing family and he feels he needs to suplement will automatically be uncomfortable from his in laws feeling that he really is not that boy learning like he used to. He is no longer an investment in the Torah world and he is stuck. He needs to stay in kollel cuz his father in law thinks he is the top bochur that will become a rosh hayeshiva one day. He can’t go out to work because he is scared of his father in law. Then starts the tension between every party involved…… the issue goes on and on…..

  23. Yes A person’s wife can be a professional (CPA,Speech Therapits or special ed) can make $40-50K and he can be in a small kolel that pays $1,000.00 a month and they can live bdachkus (simple used minvan no designer clothing live in a townhouse in lakewood)and can manage to swing it like many do. There are many many yungerleit who believe it or not do not get support.Contrary to the many yungerleit who think that the money that is being give to them to learn “es kumt mir”

  24. The way to support yourself without taking money from others is for the woman to get a well paying job which requires (for the most part) that she get a decent education. Aside from the time it takes to get that education – it can’t be done by age 19 – and even if the parents help until the girl graduates etc. – this approach requires a tremendous amount of cooperation from tada- THE HUSBAND. No woman around to make lunch, or pick up the baby, or stuff at the cleaner. Maybe the hubbie does a lot of the shabbos prep since woman has full timish job and comes home two hours before shabbos…

    Also, there are some women (even in Lakewood notorious for underpaying women)have full time jobs that did not require extensive schooling but the come in at 8:30 and leave at 4:30 – all the time. When the baby gets sick, or bein hazmanim – it is many times the husband’s issue etc.

    It can be done. It has been done. It is being done – but its so much easier not to do it.

  25. The way to be in Kollel and not take a cent from others:

    Jersey Care – Free Health Insurance

    Food Stamps – $400 – $800 monthly

    HUD – free rent

    HEAP – free utilities

    BMG – $320 monthly

    Wife Babysitting – $2,000 monthly

    Morning Kollel – $200 monthly

    Night Kollel – $200 monthly

    Earned Income Credit/Additional Tax Credit – $8000 yearly

    Tutor First Seder – $600 monthly

    Tutor Second Seder – $500 monthly

    Go to Parents every other Shabbos – Free Food every other Shabbos

    Tomchei Shabbos – Free food the rest of the month

  26. A task of the Jew is to bring ruchniyus into gashmius. Learning how to fulfill the mitzvah of limud haTora while taking care of one’s family.
    No parent can provide support indefinitely.

  27. This whole discussion is in the Igros Moshe, who writes that in today’s age we must take money or else it’s impossible to learn. but it is very true that taking money to learn and spending your day in the coffee room is geneivah.

  28. to #25 – a load of answers: 1) wife working 9-5 job that pays upward of 60K, 2) wife had money saved before she was married, 3) get on every gov’t program, 4) won the lottery, 5) got hefty insurance payment from some old accident, 6) got a large inheritance from grandparents/great uncle, 7) he got a stock tip that actually worked, 8) he bought real estate when it was cheap and then refinanced and then lived off the rent, 9) has an internet business on the side, 10) wife started her own business (sells chinese shaitels, sells baby stuff, sells robes), 11) real estate business on the side a.k.a slum lord, and I can go on and on…….

  29. madharry
    simple have a nice trust fund, inherit lots of money, win a lottery, or have a wife who is a lawyer or Doctor, but know they will not be home a lot either.

  30. one point that everyone is skipping is that many of the parents who are supporting cannot really afford to do so but have no choice if they want their daughters to marry a certain type of boy. most parents who are very comfortable or wealthy are happy to give in any way to their children even after they are married. When parents have to take 2nd jobs and scrimp for themselves in order to support their children because of societies dictates then the issues mentioned above become problematic.

  31. The author is right that some yungermen would like to give back all the money and even plus to the parents that supported them. Yes! there are those who feel much closer to their shever or parents after they stop supporting them. But all these depend on one thing: THE WAY ONE GIVES TO HIS SON/IN-LAW. Already the gemara states that there are times that a person feeds his father the best delicasies and goes to gehinom and there are those who put their father through hard labor and have gan-eden. The question is how is it done. Is it done b’derech kavod or chas v’chalila b’derech bizayon. Do we show and tell our son/in-law how much do we appreciate them learning and give them encouragement that their learning means alot to us,or we come and say why are you sitting in kollel go get a job! Also when we do give the money we have million demands & requests e.g. I pay you so seder you’re by me, we flew you in for pesach you’re not going to the other side.
    So if it is the latter a person knows why the article could make sense, and the author wrote what he wrote. (PS. that there are times which a person feels ashamed taking because he knows the monetary situation of the family or he wasn’t brought up that if I’m sitting in kollel the whole world needs to support me.)

  32. I am not a wealthy man but I help support 3 of my children, two still learning and one that just took a job in chinuch. I have no greater pleasure in my life then supporting my children who are learning or working in Avodas Hakodesh, and daven that I will have the Zechus to continue to do so for a long time. I can only speak for myself, but I truely feel sorry for those who support their children and don’t feel the same way.

  33. Some are legit, some aren’t. Are you painting everyone with the same broad brush?
    Personally, halevai we could support in kollel. I would be happy to. I would also be happy to help my working kids if I could.

  34. There has to be a medium where the husband, wife and if lucky, parents all chip in to help everyone stay comfortable . Why should women, MOTHERS, not be the primary care giver? How should she manage everything- working shopping cooking cleaning laundry…..? What bothers me is the fact that although my husband and i are b H getting support from our parents, I (a wife and mother) still did my hishtadlus by earning a masters and is now working to make ends meet while other women who Are home and don’t work claim that if they work they won’t get wic, health care, etc. Our parents work hard to support us and many of them are at the age that they should be thinking of retirement! Another disappointing thing is when women who don’t work complain to me about all the housework and how they’re tired etc. Some how though they must have time for shopping bc they and their kids are always dressed well with clothing ive never seen twice .Please!! Tell it to your fellow unemployed friend!

  35. Um, “Thank you”? It is not your hishtadlus, as a woman, the way the world has been set up, for you to get your Master’s. You decided, on your own, to get your Master’s. Your HUSBAND’s hishtadlus is to go to work.

    Being at home with small children is hard work. Albeit not as hard as working too, but hard as well. You’re friends can’t say anything because you chose to do it all?