As a parent or guardian, you may feel a certain responsibility to support your child financially. This is something many parents experience over the lifetime of their children. Any time money is concerned in a family discussion, it can be tricky to navigate, especially as your child grows toward adulthood. You are responsible for deciding when your child is ready to stand without your financial support.
Making this choice is tough and as a parent, as you are in a role where you feel obligated to help your child in a time of need, even well after your child is considered a legal adult.
It is likely your child might experience many stressful financial situations at the start of his or her adult life. For example, student loan debt, credit card debt, underpaying jobs and high rent are realities for most young adults. In fact, 30 percent of parents spend close to $5,000 a year helping their children. If you are in a situation where you believe it is right to stop supporting your child financially, you need to create a plan to do so. Use this article to learn how to stop enabling your adult child financially.
Preparing for this difficult conversation with your child is important. It is essential you and your partner, if you have one, are on the same page in terms of how you are going to communicate the news to your child. To prepare, create a list of all the financial ways you are contributing to your child’s life. This list must include any bills you cover, such as rent, phone bill or car insurance.
This preparation can help you visualize the support you are giving your child currently. More than a quarter of parents in the United States have taken on their adult child’s debt. Additional research has shown that 60 percent of parents would work longer to help ensure their child was supported financially.
Opening the Conversation
To open the conversation, it is essential you express your feelings in a healthy manner. Your child can see your body language and tone of voice, which if done correctly, can set the mood for a positive conversation. Open the conversation with your child by explaining how you feel. Tell your child you believe he or she is ready to stand alone financially.
You must mention the financial impact it is having on you as well. This helps your child to gain perspective on the situation. It is important to discuss any trade-offs or sacrifices you have made to your own life, or savings, and share these with your adult child.
Talking Points with Your Child
When sitting down to discuss financial matters with your grown child, it is imperative to keep the discussion on track. Financial discussions are uncomfortable for everyone involved and remembering this can help you to guide the conversation in a positive way. Here are some talking points to mention when discussing financial independence with your child.
- Responsibility – frame the conversation to highlight the responsibility of your child. Show him or her the opportunity for growth in obtaining more financial responsibility. It is helpful when talking about responsibility to mention your responsibility as a parent and how you feel it is time to relinquish that responsibility within the guidelines you have set.
- Be clear – be clear about what is motivating you to discuss this with your child. The clearer and more direct you are with your child, the better. This eliminates any confusion on his or her end and leaves room for a healthy discussion with everything laid out on the table.
- Present together – it is essential you and your partner are present for this conversation with your child together. Your child must see the agreement between you both when presenting this difficult topic. It helps your child to take the discussion seriously if both you and your partner are involved.
- Have numbers available – make sure you have numbers available to back up your decision. Show your child the financial support you are giving in a numbers format. Numbers can help your child understand the full impact it has on your life. This is especially true when your child can see how your other life goals are at risk due to the financial support you are giving.
- Set an end date – to ensure your child understands the full weight of this decision you are making, set an end date with him or her. Giving your child the time to prepare for the added responsibility to kick in is important. You can do this by setting a finite end date. Perhaps, you decide to wean your child off over a three to six-month period. Setting an end date around an important life event can help secure the importance of the date. Timing is everything.
- Ways you can help – if you are willing and able, it does help to offer your child a small parting gift. For example, offering to pay the first month of rent for your child or the following month of bills. This humanity helps your child to see that this decision is not easy for you, but one that must be made to ensure your future goals are met. Perhaps, you are hoping to travel or save more for retirement. It helps to explain those future goals to your child.
Following the conversation with your child, it is important to encourage him or her in this new era. Spell out the short-term guidelines and long-term guidelines for your child. If you are worried about your child and his or her budgeting skills, you can suggest a financial planner to help. It is imperative to communicate that your emotional support as a parent does not end. There are several ways you and your partner can assist without giving money directly.
Last, understand many adult children have learned over the course of their lifetime of living with their parents what the action buttons are. They have used them to great success in order to get their parents to give them money. The key to ending your child’s dependence on your bank account for his or her necessities of life is to recognize how your child may be wittingly, or unwittingly, using these emotional triggers to support his or her continued dependency. Giving in after you have set a date for independence will not in the long run help your child and may continue to hurt his or her maturity and growth into a responsible adult.
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By Alfred Wickham –