Blending Your StepFamily 35: Giving Our Adult Children Money

Last week we discussed Ted and Susie’s situation about whether they should give money to Ted’s grown daughter who is in debt.

Not surprisingly, people have differing opinions on this subject.  Some parents believe that once their child is out on their own, they need to make it on their own.  And those parents who have or do help their children financially do so because they are “legitimately concerned” about their child’s financial well-being, while others stated they did not want their children to struggle financially like they once did.

If you give money to your adult children, you have lots of company:

The National Endowment for Financial Education completed a study that showed more than half the parents surveyed (59%) financially helped out their adult children who were not in college. But if they are not in school, then shouldn’t these young adults be working?

When your adult child comes to you asking for money, where do you begin? My advice is don’t start by pulling out your checkbook yet. Instead, look at the situation more closely.

First, think about whether you can really afford to help your child.  Are you financially able to give them the money?  And what if you make it a loan but they never pay it back? Are you able to forgive the loan without it hurting your relationship?  By the way, this happens more times than we’d like to think.  So if you do make a loan with your child, you have to be able to part with the money without it hurting the relationship with your child.  The relationship should be more important than the money, that’s why it should be of an amount, that if you don’t get it back, it wouldn’t hurt you financially. If they don’t pay the loan back, obviously, you probably will not want to loan them any more money.  Teaching them to be people of their word is just as valuable as teaching them to be responsible.

It’s interesting to learn why parents are giving money to their adult children.   It’s usually for living costs, transportation, and even spending money.

But you must examine whether you can really afford to help your child.

Often, parents will either borrow money to supplement their child’s income, or divert money earmarked for their own emergencies or retirement to help their child out. Neither scenario is good for the parents because they can’t really afford to be generous without putting their own financial security at risk.

Is this healthy and would your adult child really want you to put yourself at risk this way?

Biblically, we are to help one another out and to share what we have been given with others.  But does the Bible counsel us to enable another to be dependent upon us when they are quite capable of working themselves?

If we are quick to give our adult children money every time they overspend or get themselves into a jam: how will they learn to be self-sufficient or learn to live within a budget?  And how is it really helping them if the parents become financially unstable or indebted just to support adult children.  One of the goals of parenting is to raise responsible citizens who make a contribution to society.  If the child remains dependent on the parent, they are not acting responsibly.

Now of course, there are situation’s that could arise and we, as parents, need and should help our child.  I’m talking about lifestyle choices and habits and living outside of their means that we should not enable them to continue.

Recently, a couple told me of their child who just couldn’t find any work for quite awhile.  But amazingly, when all options for staying at home had ceased, this person was able to find work.  It wasn’t the position she had hoped for, but it paid her bills.

Before you hand over the money, examine the reason why your child needs the money.

Is this really a short-term crisis or more of a chronic condition? If your child can’t manage money, overspends on “wants” or has other issues that lead to money problems (possibly mental health issues or substance abuse), the situation may need different solutions.  If you simply hand over the money, you can count on more requests for cash that will further drain your finances.

To help your child act responsibly and to accept responsibility for their finances ask some tough questions.

Ask:

  •     What sacrifices is your child making to gain financial stability?
  •     How did this financial crisis come about?
  •     What is your child giving up in order to meet this financial crisis?
  •     How will your child prepare to avert the next financial crisis?
  •     What else can they do to help themselves?

If you can help your child see how they got into this situation and then help them to make a plan to get out of it that includes a plan to avoid future problems, you will have done them a great service.

We love our kids don’t we?  That’s why we help them on their journey to taking full ownership of their responsibilities.

I know many of you are in blended families ~ how do you handle situations like this?  Are you good at communicating with your spouse?  Can you come up with viable solutions that you are both happy with?  Can you compromise? A common problem in stepfamilies is that the birth parent is more willing to help their grown child financially than the stepparent is; particularly when the stepparent views the problem as continual.  So it’s imperative that you seek the Lord for His will and not your own.  If you are struggling, as your blended family coach, I will help you to decipher God’s perfect will for you and your family and help you to move in that direction.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 says:  “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else”.

I look forward to hearing from you either here or at my website, nouveaulifecoaching.com

Until next time, may our Lord bless you as you Blend Your Stepfamily.

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About Jefferson Drexler

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