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Adult Kids + Money

Written by: Jeremy Shafer

Young kids tend to grow into adult kids with time.  Regardless of their age, to us they will always be kids.  They will fight for their independence yet crave our approval.  And few areas in life are more difficult to navigate with adult kids than money.  I’m speaking from theory and anecdote – we’re still sailing the 5-and-under seas.  All the same, here are five tips for dealing with money and adult kids.

Be Available – Don’t Hover

You’ve probably heard of helicopter parents.  They “hover”, monitoring very closely to ensure everything goes just right.  Unfortunately for some, this extends far beyond childhood.

Your kids are adults.  Treat them like adults.  Be available.  Let them know that you’re willing to hear them on career, relationship, money, or other issues.  When they do talk, don’t rush to judgment or jump to fix anything – just listen.  Ask questions.  Understand the issue.  Understand why it’s important to them.  Find out what they plan to do.  Ask if and how you can help. 

Be Timely in Sharing Personal Examples

When they do ask for advice, share from your experience.  Don’t shy away from talking about successes and failures.  We learn from both.  And today’s young adults need to know there’s life after failure.

Stop Enabling: When Your Help Doesn’t Help

If they ask for financial help, affirm that you’ll do anything in your power to help.  Review your financial situation before extending an offer.  Consider whether your help will be a loan or a gift.  And if you’ve “helped” many times before, pause and consider whether you’re simply aiding irresponsibility.

If you cannot fix the problem without endangering yourself financially, be honest about it.  As an instructor with the American Red Cross, we always taught participants to survey the scene before approaching.  There’s no sense having two victims with no one to help!

Acknowledge and Encourage Sound Financial Decisions

When they successfully execute a sound financial decision, acknowledge it.  Tell them you’re proud of them.  Celebrate in proportion to the size of the accomplishment.

Love Them – Don’t Let Money Divide Relationships

If you can meet with triumph and disaster; and treat these two impostors just the same.” (Kipling, If)   To be certain success and failure are both a part of life’s journey.  Your adult kids may make decisions that fail to achieve their goal.  Remind them that the event was a failure – the person is not.  If they’ve hurt you financially, taken advantage of your generosity, or squandered a gift, you’ll have to forgive them – first in your own heart, before they ask; then to their face if they do ask.  Your relationships are too valuable to let money divide them.

Next week… Marriage & Money

 
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