8 Steps to Helping Your Adult Children Financially (without Enabling Them)

  • Megan Pacheco Chief Learning Officer, Lead Like Jesus
  • 2018 27 Sep
8 Steps to Helping Your Adult Children Financially (without Enabling Them)

After you said your goodbyes, dropped the kids off at college and shed a few tears, you had actually adapted quite well to the “empty nest” and all its benefits. You had high hopes that the investment in a good education and in a carefully chosen degree would send your “fledglings” soaring into the world of adult responsibilities with a new level of independence—but now they’re back.

Due to a lagging economy and stale job market, many young adults have found themselves with a good education, accompanied by large student loans, low to no job prospects and the need to count on their parents for help.

This is definitely a less than ideal scenario, but if that’s your reality, how can you help your grown children get through this difficult period without creating a financial drain on your household and without fostering a dependent attitude (i.e., “enabling” them)? Here are a few suggestions on how to make the best of the circumstances while still preserving relational and financial balance.

  • 1. Draw Up an Agreement

    1. Draw Up an Agreement

    Have a written agreement between you/your spouse and your adult child. This may seem over the top, but depending on the maturity of your child, it may be necessary. The written agreement should include any financial obligations as well as housekeeping duties that your son or daughter should satisfy while in your home.

    2. Encourage Them to do Their Part

     Ask them to contribute financially. If your son or daughter is working a low-paying job, ask them to pay rent and expenses that are appropriate for the income they are earning. Don’t allow freeloading on food—they should contribute to the “household pantry.”

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  • 3. Educate Them Financially

    3. Educate Them Financially

    Help them learn solid financial habits. Teach them the simple 10-10-80 money rule: Whatever income they earn, teach your student to save 10%, designate 10% towards a charitable cause of their choice, and to live on the remaining 80%. This simple money rule will cultivate in them the habit of regular saving (which is one of the secrets to long term financial success), to be generous (those who give tend to lead much happier, content lives) and to live within their means.

    4. Create a Budget

    Help them understand budgeting basics. Sit down with your adult child and help him or her put together a financial plan (budget). There are great FREE online apps, such as Mvelopes.com, to make this process easy and fun. Mobile friendly apps with frequent reminders and warnings will help her stay on top of every penny spent or over-spent! Having a plan is just the beginning.  In order for the plan to work you need to measure the plan against the real results.

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  • 5. Acknowledge Their Mistakes

    5. Acknowledge Their Mistakes

    Help them learn from your financial mistakes: This may not be very comfortable, but granting your adult child an honest look into your finances can teach them much more than you think. If you’ve made mistakes like taking on too much consumer debt, buying more home than you could afford, or allowed spending to get out of control, than you can use those mistakes as great lessons.

    Take your son or daughter out for dinner and have a great heart to heart conversation. Show them how those mistakes have impacted you in the past or may still be impacting you today.

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  • 6. Set Deadlines

    6. Set Deadlines

    It’s important both for you and your child to have a clear progress strategy. If they know they have to move out after a certain amount of time, they’ll be that much more proactive in their job hunt. If no deadlines are set and there is little accountability, you may find yourself with Junior on your couch, eating your potato chips and watching your cable TV…indefinitely!

    7. Maintain a Relationship

    According to Pew research, 25 percent of the returning young adults reported that the change has had a negative impact on the relationship between them and their parents. So, even though having a child return home may not be an ideal situation, having your children back at home may give you the opportunity to reengage with them.

    Cook together, talk over coffee, play board games as a family—treat this season as another opportunity to strengthen the relationship.

    Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/SIAATH

  • 8. Provide Emotional Support

    8. Provide Emotional Support

    Be their best cheerleader. Having to come home and struggle to land a solid job can be very tough and, at times, even embarrassing. Encourage and pray for your child daily. It’s not your job to “fix” everything for them, but having your moral, emotional and spiritual support will mean the world to them.

    This article is an adapted version of 8 Steps to Helping Your Adult Children Financially (without Enabling Them) by Megan Pacheco.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash