When is it time to say “No” to your adult children?

When is it time to say “No” to your adult children? By Michael Brooks

“Why does my adult child keep calling me and asking for money? What am I going to do? I can’t afford to keep paying his bills! He thinks I’m his personal banker! I have shelled out well over $57,000 dollars over the past 12 years sending him to college, paying for a European vacation and financing many of his money-making schemes! He has missed several payments on his student and car loans that I co-signed! I can’t do this any longer! My wife and I are spending our retirement funds to keep him afloat. I also know several other parents in the same boat we’re in.” Too many parents these days are taking care of their children when they are well into their 40’s and 50’s and even some in their 60’s. Is there any hope for us?

Believe it or not, many parents across the US are providing money for their adult children who refuse to get a job and want to live off of their parent’s backs. Many children feel they are entitled to their parent’s ongoing financial support so they make little effort to look for work or move out. What incentive do these adult children have to live on their own when we enable this attitude of entitlement? As parents we know that it is our responsibility to raise our children to be responsible adults. What is the age of accountability? Many believe when a child reaches the age of 18 they should be on their own and others say age 21 is appropriate. That is a personal decision for each parent to make. I believe once a child is out of college or trade school they should find a place of their own and start life as a working adult.

What’s wrong with our adult children finding roommates to help with living expenses? Nothing! Many young adults manage their finances on their own and may not need a roommate to help cover expenses; however, some may need to be creative to make the transition from living at home to living an independent life.

As parents we need to prepare our children for life on their own. Are you doing that? Are you helping your younger children with their finances? I recommend you begin teaching your children financial responsibility by the time they are 12 years old. Over the years I’ve had many parents tell me they never sat down with their children and explained how saving and spending works and now regret it. It’s never too late to start! Teach your children the value of earning, saving and spending their money!

To be clear, I’m not saying we should never help our children in a pinch. Adult children need help from time to time. It’s up to you to decide what kind of help they need. If they need money to feed your grandchildren then there’s no question you’ll want to help out. If they’re expecting you to pay their rent, cell phone bills or car payments on a regular basis then I suggest setting boundaries. Adult children need to take full responsibility for their lives. As a parent you don’t need to feel like a failure when you tell them you’re not going to pay for every need and want. How will our children learn to live independently if we are constantly bailing them out of the money mess they get themselves into? What are we teaching them by giving them money or paying their monthly bills?

Let’s face it many adult parents coddle their adult children. I had a friend whose mother pampered him even though he was 38 years old! She constantly doted over him by cooking all of his favorite dishes at just one meal! He seemed slightly embarrassed by it all! This friend had never become an independent adult. His mother did it all for him! I thought to myself how he is in for a real eye opener when his mother stops taking care of him!

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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