I am 37 years old male, married with kids (5,3,1). My parents are from the Indian subcontinent but I have lived in the US for most of my life. I have always been very close with my mom, ever after marriage I call her every day and visit her at least twice a month.

She is a great mom but her personality is she has always been a control freak and very frugal. I recently told her that I am planning to buy a new car since my current one is 8 years old and has 100k miles on it. But she said it would be a waste of money and that I should save for my family and my kids. She said since my car is still running fine I should be patient with it.

I know in the culture she is from, parents have much more control over their children. I don't think I can ever I convince her that things are different here.

Should I buy the car against her wishes and risk damaging my relationship with her since she was adamant on her position, or should I keep trying to get her blessings or should just listen to her and forget the car?


Thanks to everyone who answered and commented. Yes, the question is not really about should I buy the car. Although I can buy it without taking a loan, that money might be better spent saving for a home or my kids college or retirement or a rainy day (as people here have advised). It is somewhat of an "impulse buy" because I like picturing myself in that new car. My wife already has a minivan which is relatively new so the kids are fine.

The question is really about cultural clash in relationships. As people here have said, I am in "independent human being" and I don't need to listen to my mother about my financial decisions. But that is not how she sees it, she thinks because she is my mother she still has the right to tell me what to do (including how I spend my money). So the question is how can I live an independent life and still be on good terms with her when she has such a way of thinking (which I think comes partly from her personality as a strong mom and control freak, and partly from the part of the world she comes from).

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    Has your mother encountered much financial difficulty in her life? In what conditions are your finances (somewhat reflected by the questions in the answer below)? Are you financially independent of your parents? Can you buy this car outright without any sacrifices at all? Are your parents financially dependent on you? Might this ever be the case? Is this the first time she has pressured you in this way? If not, is it frequent or infrequent? Sorry for the questions. :) I hope your mother knows what an exceptionally thoughtful son she has. You are to be commended, sir. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 23:07
  • @anongoodnurse, yes she has had financial difficulty at some points in her life, I am financially independent of my parents, I can buy this car without a loan but it would take 20-30% out of my family savings, my parents are somewhat financially dependent on me at the moment and will probably increase in the future, this is not the first time she has pressured me but it has not been too frequent.
    – AbuMariam
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 5:05
  • Why do you even want a new car? I mean, if you really want a new car that's fine, but cars can drive longer than 100,000 miles. In that way, I agree with your mother, but that should not be the important factor. I think you are an independent human being and don't have to listen to your mother - just as Jeff.Clark did say, take her opinion into account as a good advice and make your decision based on all arguments.
    – Nova
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 10:02
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    Please keep comments/answers focused on how the child and parent should be communicating in order to understand each other in this situation -- whether or not OP should buy a new car isn't really the question :)
    – Acire
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 10:51
  • Thank you for answering my questions. Now I feel I'm in a better position to answer yours. :) Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


Communicating with and retaining a good relationship with your mother is important to you, so it's important that when a disagreement comes up, you might consider the possibilities behind your mother's objections when addressing them.

My parents grew up during the Great Depression, so that was the background for many of their attitudes towards money; since I did not, mine were different than theirs.

Given your financial independence (as you've said, you don't need to follow your mother's advice), her advice is important because of your relationship with her, so looking at why she feels this way - beyond the stated reasons - might be of benefit.

As she is financially dependent on you now and is unlikely ever to be independent, it's possible that when she sees a major purchase being made, she's actually worried about her own future financial security. Expressing that fear and dependence directly is not comfortable for anyone, though, so maybe it's taking this form.

If this is the case, and especially because her pressuring you financially has not been frequent, reassuring your mother that this purchase is very well within your means and doesn't threaten your (or implicitly her) financial security in any way may be the way to allow her to let go of trying to talk you out of it.

[S]he thinks because she is my mother she still has the right to tell me what to do (including how I spend my money). So the question is how can I live an independent life and still be on good terms with her when she has such a way of thinking (which I think comes partly from her personality as a strong mom and control freak, and partly from the part of the world she comes from).

If it's deeper than her own financial fears, then you have a choice to make: to give in to her pressure for the sake of her feeling respected and obeyed, or to start setting up new boundaries with her where you make your own decisions financially but you continue to show respect for her in ways that are healthier for you (and possibly both of you).

How you and your wife spend should ideally be your own decisions, but life is rarely ideal. It is clear that you love and respect your mother. If in your culture obedience is an integral part of respect, this will be difficult for you. Since I don't know the culture, the best I can do is to offer this: continue to show your respect in all the ways that do not involve blind obedience. When you do obey her, let her know that you're doing it because you respect her opinion (but that obedience is different from respect.) When she objects to something and you disagree, remind her that you do respect her, and point out the ways you show it, and do what you believe is best for you (and perhaps all of you by extension?) It may not be enough for her, but that will be hers to deal with.

It's your choice, and it sounds like it might be a challenge. Good luck.


I would say to first pretend she is not your mother, but rather a friend who has 20-30 more years experience in life.

Think about what she is saying and run the numbers. Are you going to have to get a loan for the car? How much money would you waste in interest by getting a loan? How much would you save by waiting a few years, saving up what the monthly payments WOULD have been (into an account), and then paying cash for a decent car.

Do you make enough to pay cash already? If so, what are your priorities? Is a car a priority vs something else like a house or a financial portfolio. Are you just impulse buying?

After you think all of those things through and come to a decision, remember again that she is your Mom and weigh the decision again with that in mind. Her point is that your car is running fine. If you can set $$ aside each month with a specific car in mind and wait to purchase it until your current car bites the dust, I have a feeling both her and you will be much more happy.

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    Nice answer. I especially want to emphasize the part about saving money. You never know if a critical incident could really mess up your life - having some saved money will really help you then.
    – Nova
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 10:06
  • Jeff, your answer was great but I undid my acceptance of it after I revised my question because it really doesn't answer my updated question. Sorry, that was my fault for not asking the right question in the first place.
    – AbuMariam
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 15:00
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    No worries. Everyone is here to help with all the info we can give. Take what works for you :)
    – Jeff.Clark
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 15:37

I would take it as good advice from someone who loves you and wants what is best for you, and also has more life experience than you. IMO, she has a point, particularly since you say this is something of an impulse purchase. Say, "You know, Mom, you have a good point. I am going to take one month [or whatever amount of time you are comfortable with] to consider what you have said and think about the pros and cons of this decision."

After a cooling off period you might decide that your car will be just fine for a while longer. You are happy because you made a wise decision, and she is happy because you took her advice.

On the other hand, maybe you decide that buying a car now is the right thing to do. In that case, you can tell her that you considered her input, but that you have decided that buying the car now is the right decision for you and your family. Since it sounds like you share a lot of the details of your life with her, you may even want to share more about your decision-making process. You are still happy because you made a wise decision after a cooling off period. She is, if not completely happy about it, at least not as unhappy because you seriously listened to her advice and showed that you do want to act in the best interests of your family, which includes her.

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