How to tell your adult children

How to tell your adult children NO! By Michael Brooks

I have had clients in the past that felt if they didn’t help their adult children they were bad parents! Hogwash! Don’t buy into that lie! You’re doing your children a big favor by being honest with them by telling them to take care of themselves. I can remember when I first got married I asked my dad to co-sign on a loan for a television. He said “Son, a television is a luxury. Work an extra job to buy one.” That was some of the best advice I ever received. Just as he suggested, I got a part time job and bought a nice TV. I earned it and it bolstered my self-worth as a person. My dad knew how to speak the truth in love and it didn’t cause any permanent damage. He knew how to say no, and I learned when he said no he meant no!

How many times have you been at the grocery store and watched a 5-year-old go ballistic when he didn’t get the cookies he wanted? We’ve also seen the parents give in just to stop the tantrum. If I had acted up in a grocery store when I was a child my parents would have taken me out to the car and would have “taken care of business”. Over the years I’ve had clients tell me that their adult children have acted the same way. They didn’t necessarily throw a tantrum, but when their child didn’t get their way they pouted, used guilt and stopped talking to their parents.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions and be honest in answering them.
• Have you repeatedly loaned your child money and have never been repaid?
• Does your child ask you to buy expensive items for them like cars, clothes, computers, cell phones, etc?
• Have you been paying bills that your child should be paying and taking care of?
• Have you been asked to co-sign for car or house loans?
• Do you have arguments about money and his/her spending habits?
• Are you using your retirement or savings to keep your adult child afloat?
• Are you apprehensive about seeing your child because you know he will be asking for money or that you buy certain things?
• Have you had personal items, collectibles or jewelry seemingly end up missing?
• Is your marriage in trouble because your adult child is taking advantage of you and your spouse?
• Does your adult child get belligerent towards you when you don’t give into their wants and desires? Do they swear and yell at you?

When growing up my parents could answer “yes” to most of the questions listed above. My sister took advantage of my parent’s generosity and kindness. As her brother, I saw through it. They felt bad for some of the choices she made and were always making excuses for her when I confronted them. They would say, “Well, your sister has it pretty hard and she has a drinking problem. If your mom and I don’t help her, who will? We want to help her until she gets back on her feet!” I would tell them that in reality they were not helping her but were actually enabling her bad behavior. She expected our parents to bail her out and ultimately she did not suffer any consequences for her actions.

I asked them how they thought she would ever learn to live on her own if they were always giving her money and paying her rent and most of her living expenses. When I told them I thought she could make it on her own, I got blank stares from my parents!

In this series we will examine why adult children take advantage of their parents. We’ll talk about how to regain control of your life, peace of mind and finances.
Are you experiencing a difficult time in your home because your adult children are taking advantage of you and your spouse? Do you feel manipulated and hear the same old excuses? “Mom I am so tired I can’t look for a job today” and “I promise to start looking for a job on Monday, you’ll see” or “Dad, it’s not my fault! They will not hire me” and “The economy is bad and nobody is hiring! What’s the use?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, I can help you. Give me a call today!

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