Thursday, February 24, 2011

Should Parents Help Adult Children?

This question came up yesterday as a topic of conversation and I thought I would address it today, from my perspective. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, so the question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. I grew up in a family where it was ingrained in us to work hard and achieve success. Our family also believed in helping those who helped themselves. My parents were always quick to lend a hand to make our lives easier, even if we didn’t need or ask for help.

In my case, both my husband and I had college educations, I saved up quite a bit of money and when we married we were doing very well financially. We were both working and saving up to buy our own home where we could raise our family. After I got pregnant with our first child, I knew I was going to be a stay at home mom. When the baby was 18 months old we bought our home and had only one salary with more expenses. We were able to manage, but things were a lot tighter money wise. So when some expensive house repairs came up, my parents offered to pay for the cost of them. We had a water main break, the house needed to be painted on the outside, and the basement needed to be waterproofed. These were all costly jobs and my parents wanted to take the burden of the expense off of us. They were able to do it and they never asked for anything in return. My husband always worked and provided for our family, and my parents agreed with my decision to stay home and raise my children.

Many adult children are struggling today because of the economy. Even if they want to work, there are no jobs out there to be had and there is a lot of competition for the ones there are. I think as long as children are working hard at jobs or at getting a good education, parents should help out as much as possible. If that means children have to stay home longer to save up money before moving out, or helping pay off college loans, or help furnishing a new house, condo or apartment, then that’s what parents who can afford it should do.  And, let's not forget that a college education at a private school can easily cost $130,000 for four years.  That kind of money, with interest, could take a lifetime to pay off.  As long as the child is motivated and working hard, a parent should be there supporting and encouraging them in any way possible. One day they will get traction and be able to stand on their own and they will do it sooner with a little help.

However, if a child isn’t doing anything to help themselves, isn’t motivated to work or attend school, and comes to expect or feel entitled to help, then it’s time to rethink any kind of assistance. Assisting lazy kids with attitudes of entitlement isn’t helping them, it’s enabling them to do nothing. They will always be dependent and bleed you dry financially if you let them.

Kids who grow up with good strong values will not want their parents help. Sometimes they have to graciously accept their parents help, when they offer it, because parents still want to feel needed. A parent’s job is never done. Once you have a child a parent will worry about them for the rest of their life and want to take care of them and know they are ok. It’s part of the parent/child relationship.

If you’ve done your job and raised hard working children, then it becomes your pleasure and your duty, if you are able, to lend a hand when needed.

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