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January 23, 2019

Is inheriting from your parents a right or a privilege?

We inherit genes from our parents, and that’s a given. Is it a must that we also inherit what they own? I’ve often thought about this and don’t agree with it at all. I’ll tell you why, using a personal example.

I’ve watched my parents struggle for the longest time ever, to get their business up and running. They were kicked out of the house because (God forbid!) they had a love marriage, which was really looked down upon in the 60s. Their love must have overcome everything because without a penny in his pocket, two children and a wife to look after, my father struggled to put food on the table. Eventually, he started a business with his friends, but who turned out to be vile humans. They conned him out of his business edging him out leaving him back to square one. He was resilient and didn’t give up. He started yet another business, a photo lab, and by this time, my little sister was old enough to go to school (she was born when Dad was starting up the first business). Once the initial set up was done, Mum joined him in running the business.

Between the two of them, the business became very successful, growing to accommodate a couple of branches within the capital city and in Mombasa too. Suddenly, the family that kicked them out decided it was ok to now be around them and fortunately, most of the what happened in the past was left right there.

I often sit and wonder, why do people think they are entitled and should be given whatever their parents have earned in their lifetime to them? If my Mum has any jewellery, passing it on to me or my sister, or even my sister-in-law is not our right. It’s an honour and a privilege. She can easily give it to her sisters, or to whomever she feels like. If I am to receive such a generous gift from her, I will keep it to pass it on to my daughter as her legacy.

Having watched my father struggle very hard and become so successful in life, I have learned the best lessons in life from him. Work hard and it surely pays off. Never have your hand and begging bowl out to ask for things from people. Work hard for it and you’ll surely get it. Their strong work ethic and success is the reason why I stand strong and proud today. I never sued my ex-husband for any alimony at all. I didn’t earn it (and truth be told, neither did he – it was all his father’s hard work) so I didn’t for a minute think I had rights to any of it.  

So if you are being given something by your parents, either while they are still alive or as inheritance after they pass away, be grateful and thankful for what you have. Unless you have actively played a part in building your parents’ wealth, in my very strong opinion, you are not owed anything at all. Your parents have educated you, brought you to a point where you are self-sufficient and able to earn your own living. My father was thirteen when he quit school and started earning to put food on the table. So despite not being formally educated, he worked hard, put his mind to it and made a success of himself. His life partner stood by him and ensured he didn’t sign any more of his hard earned money to dodgy friends who were out to con him.

It’s a privilege, not a right, to inherit something from our parents. Be grateful. Not many get anything at all.


Twitter: @kamz26

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