My philosophy when it comes to giving grown children money is pretty simple.
If they are employed and otherwise responsible, I’m happy to give them a hundred here or a few hundred there for a phone bill or to register their car. They don’t have to pay me back. If they can’t afford their phone bill or to register their car themselves, the last thing they need is to owe me money.
My husband lets me take the lead on this. He has two sons from his first marriage and we’ve helped one out from time-to-time while he finds his feet as a responsible grownup. He never expects us to help and always offers to pay us back. He is employed. He is on the path. So we help out.
However so many parents are faced with the very real pressure of offering regular financial assistance to their kids, or large sums, because if they don’t help, their children can’t have the things in life we deem as normal, like a house.
It’s a real source of stress for parents of older children.
We’re already dealing with the Boomerang Generation – that generation of young ones who move back in with their parents to save for a house – and now we have Generation Sponge – that generation of young-uns who regularly request financial assistance from their parents.
So far I’ve only had to deal with that sort of pressure from my stepsons, and most of that pressure has come from my husband and I. We wish we’d been able to help them out more when they are younger and we wish we could help them out much more now that they are older, employed, responsible and building decent lives for themselves. We can’t afford to pay for weddings and houses so we help them out in much smaller amounts and they don’t have to pay us back.
Sometimes though, it becomes too much.
A friend of mine is dealing with a son who has moved back in with her, again, after multiple failed attempts at living his own life.
She met up with me recently after arguing with him about how he was failing to afford his own life. She wants to retire and can’t see how that’s possible as long as he – a young able-bodied man – continues to drain her resources.
Then there’s the friend whose grown sons are not employed. So used to having their lives paid for their parents they’ve never had to find a proper job, bouncing from educational institution to educational institution, their education seeming to never come to an end.
I even know of cases where married couples with a child or two are moving back in with parents in order to be able to save for a house or for an expensive renovation.
Parents who are thinking of ways to fund their retirement in ten or twenty years time are even dipping into their superannuation funds to help children buy homes. Better that than letting them move in, right?