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Can No Longer Afford Tuition Fees


M (36-male-UAE)

Reply Date

Aug 28, 2018


I am unable to afford the hefty tuition fees for my kids. I have tried to change their schools, but my parents (grandparents of the children) keep putting them back into the same expensive schools. I have asked my parents repeatedly not to burden me with the extra expenses, but they don't listen. They say that the education of the children is the most important thing, notwithstanding the fact that as children, we did not study in such expensive schools. Please help and advise us how to proceed.




In this counseling answer:

“You have to gauge your situation there, and determine to what extent you can disagree with your parents, and make it clear to them that the decision is yours, as you are the parent to your children. They can suggest, they can guide, they can support, etc., but at the end of the day, you are the father and the decision is ultimately yours.”

As salamu `alaykum,

Thank you for your question. I think in a situation like this, you have to identify all of your options, as well as make an attempt to try and understand why your parents might be acting the way they are. From the way you have described it, it sounds as if your parents either are do not understand your point of view, or they simply do not care about it. It sounds a bit strange in fact, that they would act in such a manner if you have clearly told them that you cannot afford to put your kids in expensive schools.

I am not sure as to whether it is a communication issue, or something else. So I ask you:

•To what extent have you really made it clear to them that you cannot afford to send your kids to these schools? If so, what has their response been?

•Do they feel that you can afford it, and you are not being honest, do they not care, or…

•Is it that you have not really made it clear to them?

•Rather than merely acting and taking the kids out of the school, perhaps it is better to first sit down with your parents and make sure that everyone is clear as to what the situation is.

•How much do the schools cost

•How much money do you have available for their education, etc.

Then they will see very clearly that such expensive schools are not a realistic option, unless they are also willing to help with the expenses. Of course, this is assuming that what you said is accurate, and that the reason you do not want them to go to expensive schools is because of the affordability. However, I find it strange that your parents would act in the manner that they have if they had been clearly told that there simply is not enough money.

Perhaps you do have the money, but are unwilling to spend it due to your belief that the kids do not need such expensive schools. This is another issue altogether that also requires discussion with your parents.

•Have you reminded them that they did not send you to such schools as a child?

•How did they respond?

•What is their concern now with sending your kids to such expensive schools?

•Where are they coming from?

•What is their perspective, what’s fuelling this belief that they have?

Maybe their assumptions about this whole issue are wrong. So you need to dialogue with them and find out the answer to these questions.

I am not familiar with the cultural issues in your family relating to communication. In some cultures, to confront one’s parents and tell them that you disagree with them is completely unacceptable. In others, we can respectfully disagree with our parents on reasonable grounds, and it is perfectly acceptable.

Check out this counseling video

You have to gauge your situation there, and determine to what extent you can disagree with your parents, and make it clear to them that the decision is yours, as you are the parent to your children. They can suggest, they can guide, they can support, etc., but at the end of the day, you are the father and the decision is ultimately yours.

There is no reason why kids cannot get a decent education if they are not at top schools. But perhaps these points of view have not been adequately explained and discussed with your parents. Sometimes there is a need to educate our parents, for we are raising our children in a world that is entirely different than the one that they raised us in.

Don’t be afraid to do this, but remember the Islamic adab (behaviour) in how you go about doing it. Again, reflect on the communication effectiveness here.

How well are you communicating with your parents and what is allowable and acceptable within the given cultural parameters.

And Allah knows best….

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

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About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah

Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

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