A woman holds gets money from a purse. There is a need for parents to teach children about self-reliance right from childhood. PHOTO / MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 


Weaning adults off retirement income

What you need to know:

 Failure to give children a chance to find their way makes it hard to learn how to be independent in life.

As you plan for your retirement, you may have to include some hidden costs so that you do not get caught off guard. These might range from taking care of your children or even grandchildren.

Financial preparedness is a debatable topic no matter the time or age because sooner or later, you will retire.

However, imagine a situation where a retiree must spend part of their pension income on children or grandchildren.

Not all retirees are having blissful retirements as they are trying to cope with the new realities.

Some senior citizens are forced to spend some of their pension on their grandchildren because their children lack a source of income.
According to Dr John Kakonge, President of the Association of the Former International Civil Servants (AFICS) in Kenya at AFICS- Kenya, many grandparents are stressed with their underlying medical challenges as well as taking care of their grandchildren with meagre resources.

The senior citizens may describe this differently; noting that it might be an almost hidden problem that requires weaning children off retirees’ income.

The Annual Retirement Benefits 2021/22 report by Uganda Retirements Benefits Authority (URBRA) indicates that only slightly more than three million (3.01 million) have retirement benefits arrangements, majority of whom are private formal sector workers covered under the  National Social Security Fund (NSSF), leaving the majority vulnerable to financial insecurity in their later years. 

Mr Alfred Musamali, retired public servant who retired from the public service in April, 2020 says that it is expected that as workers reach the end of their official employment, they are relieved of the responsibility of providing for their kids because they should be able to support themselves.

“Retiring employees are not expected to take care of their grandchildren or other minors; that responsibility is left to their parents or guardians. However, for other retirees, the situation is different because they are secretly responsible for taking care of their grandchildren, children, and other adults or minors,” Musamali says.

He notes that one of the reasons adult children still rely on their retired parents’ pension income is that they haven’t finished their education, found employment, or begun earning an income of their own.

“I have a former fellow teacher, for instance, who delayed getting married till he was in his fifties. He and I retired around the same time in 2020, with his oldest child still in secondary school and other children in primary school,” he recounts, noting that the individual in question believed that by delaying marriage and pursuing additional education, he would be less likely to be burdened in old age, but things haven’t worked out that way.
Musamali and his wife had children who grew up and began independent lives.
He narrates: “But when our daughter passed away, we realised that we could better care for the two children that were left behind than their father could.”

However, sometimes educated children simply fail to find jobs or find jobs but feel they are not good enough.

In addition, there are instances where children are born disabled or acquire problems later in life. These situations are so serious that they prevent the adult offspring of other people from sustaining themselves.  

Reasons for dependency 
Ruth Binyizika Musoke, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) who is also a life coach says from the beginning, parents ought to train their children for the world.

 “We should train our children to be independent. Taking them to school is great but children must learn to do certain things on their own without the parents,” Musoke says.

 Failure to give children a chance to find their way makes it hard to learn how to be independent in life.

 “The children who are not independent cannot even think they can find a job for themselves. They think it is mummy who has to help them find a job. They cannot even save something off their pocket money which can be used as startup capital. This is a problem. 

This starts from where parents do not want their children to be part of their businesses with the guise that they are studying. Some do this because they do not want their children’s hands to get dirty. 
“If you do not do this, it gets back to you; meaning that after graduating, you will still need to look after this child, pay their rent, build them a house, even find them a husband to marry,” she explains.

 This, she says, is because you don’t let them be independent and discover for themselves. If an unborn child is able to find their way out of the womb, it is the same way a child should be left alone to become independent.

 “This means after education, the parents will continue supporting them to become independent. If they become independent, parents have to mentor them on how to use their money properly. 

If a child wants to buy land, he/she should save and contribute at least 50 percent rather than asking the parent to buy it for them,” she adds.
Lydia Mirembe, manager corporate and public affairs, Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), says there are several circumstances, many of them inevitable.

 For instance, death of one’s children may leave orphans who can only be kept by grandparents.

 But such grandparents will suffer the effects of old-age poverty.
 “Some may have to work well into their sixties and seventies,  just to take care of the grandchildren’s bills,” Mirembe says.

Ms Hilda Naigumya Ogwe, business development consultant, Mazima Retirement Benefits Scheme, says initially it was black tax but it has now resorted to dependency. 

“The causes of pensioner dependency depend on how you were brought up. This background makes parents shoulder all that the children present to them,” Ogwe says.