As a parent of three young children, I want to do all I can to provide for them. That’s as simple as providing food and shelter to more long-lasting needs. In every case, we want to do all we can for our kids, which includes sacrificing our own needs or wants as parents. There comes a point, however, when you need to let your children fly solo.
A recent study from a professor at North Carolina State University reveals 40 percent of adult children (those aged 25-32) still receive some kind of financial assistance from parents. While not really surprising, given the recent economic climate, it begs the question of when to cut the cord on your adult children. This is an issue far larger than a single blog post, but consider some of the following as you think about when your adult children need to be on their own.
You Need to Start Earlier Than You Think
I’m a big proponent of teaching children about money at home. It’s one of the most loving things you can do for a child. Putting off financial responsibility for your adult children will have the opposite effect. It can make them more reliant on you, not less. In short, it does not set them up for future success.
You may think it’s unloving to start once they move back home (assuming they do) or when they first start out, but that’s the exact time you should start – if you’ve not done so already. It can be as simple as charging them rent to live at home, or some other financial contribution. If they’re on their own, you can give them a deadline for when they’ll be financially on their own. Wisdom is needed, of course, but you need to start as soon as possible to help them become independent.
You Need to Be Selfish
As a parent, it feels contradictory to be selfish. It’s not. I would argue it’s very much needed for the long-term financial health of you and your child. Just as with the saving for retirement vs. saving for college debate, it’s not an easy choice but one you need to make.
Think of it this way. Your desire to help your adult child is noble. However, are you putting yourself at risk to depend on them later in life because you were not prudent in previous years? I want to help our children, but the last thing I want is to be a burden on them later in life. Thus, selfishness is needed, to a certain extent. It sounds harsh. It isn’t. It’s prudent while also causing them to find ways to develop the kind of life they want and need.
You Can Have Balance
While I believe you need to have a healthy level of selfishness when adult children are concerned, balance is necessary. The last thing you want is to embitter your child. You can help them prepare for their adult lives in many ways that aren’t strictly financial in nature.
Some of those ways can include dealing with student loans, helping them reduce bills and keeping more money in their budget. It can also include helping them out financially when they have need. As an adult child who benefitted from that several times, sometimes this is the best option. Again, use wisdom and seek a healthy balance for both you and your child.
Cutting the cord on an adult child is rarely an easy decision. There are many factors at play. The key is to find ways to set them up for long-term success.