finance

Child, stop asking me for money.

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.

Constant requests for money are a real source of stress for parents of older children.

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?

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Where do we draw the line? It seems that parents of grown children are the ones coming up with solutions to what really are political and economic issues such as the rising cost of living, the latest property bubble and stagnant wages.

Dr. Phil tells a mother that she is enabling her grown son by giving him money. Article continues after this video.

Video by CBS

If all parents suddenly stopped helping grown children financially – weddings aside – wouldn’t our politicians and market forces be forced to come up with real solutions to these very real problems?

It’s human nature for parents to want to give their children a better life than they had, as their parents before them did. My parents grew up in Italy, struggling for every dollar and every mouthful. My father’s earliest childhood memory is of stealing potatoes during WWII and my mum was pulled out of school in Year 8 to help out at the family farm. They were determined to give my siblings and I more opportunities than they had. They made sure we were never short of food and that we were able to access every educational opportunity possible.

My husband and I are the same. We want to help his sons create the lives they want and as long as they too work hard to achieve that, we are happy to help them.

Except sometimes we can’t afford it. Except sometimes it means putting our own futures at risk.

Then there’s the very real issue of the harm being done by parents who are constantly bailing out and supplementing their children’s lives.

We see our grown children’s Facebook pages, their social lives, the concert tickets they buy, the holidays they take, the credit card debt they accumulate without a second thought, and we wonder if we are making a mistake by helping them out financially.

Should we, as birds do, simply push them out of the next and force them to learn to fly?

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