As I previously wrote, times have changed. Gone are the days of working in the same company for your entire career as well as receiving a generous pension plan upon retiring. With tuition fees on the rise and employment prospects rather scarce, a growing number of parents found themselves helping their adult children well past their university years.
I will probably sound harsh here but doing so is a disservice both to the adult children and the parents. Let me tell you why:
- Parents, your children are not going to pay for your retirement. You can’t borrow for this!
- Parents, if you can’t pay your own bills in order to pay your child’s, you have a problem!
- Parents, if you are cashing your retirement savings or your home-equity to help your children, you have a problem!
Constantly helping your adult children actually teach them to be helpless and unmotivated. Think about it for a minute or two. If your adult children know you will catch them when they fall, what are they learning? Probably nothing. Do they have any incentive to proceed differently? Probably not.
There is no question in my mind that adult children need to be responsible for their lives, in every way:
- Adult children, if you need to get 1, 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet, so be it! Stop relying on the bank of Mum & Dad for your basics.
- Adult children, if you need to postpone vacation, wedding or home-buying until you can actually afford it, so be it!
- Adult children, if you are never able to go on vacation, pay for a grand wedding or buy a house, so be it!
What is the best way, as a parent to help their adult children, you might ask.
- Teach your child about money management. It is never too late to learn! You may find out you need a refresher too, as a parent.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. Saying no to a child is the hardest thing to do for a parent, but is both liberating and powerful. But by doing so, you are fostering their independence and creative-thinking. If you gave them a move-out or cut-off date, follow through.
My own parents only helped me once, financially, as an adult. It was back in 2009, in the midst of the economic downturn. I was unemployed and had exhausted the little savings I had. It is the only time they bailed me out…and that’s the way it should be.
I had previously asked for financial assistance for other items, and my parents always declined. I found it hard, but looking back I know it was in my best interest. I made my own mistakes but I also learned valuable lessons, such as the value of a dollar and the value of planning. It also rid me of any sense of entitlement I may have harbored.