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Should You Give Your Adult Child Money?

Parenting doesn't come with a universal set of instructions, and this is especially true when it comes to parenting adult children. Whether or not you give your adult child money depends on many variables, including your own financial needs, your child's ability to spend cash responsibly, and your current family dynamics. In this article, we'll review some important considerations to keep in mind if you're on the fence.

Questions Parents Can Ask Yourself Before Giving Money to Adult Kids

Many parents struggle with deciding if, when, and how to offer their adult children money. If you're ambivalent about what to do, the following questions may help refine your reflection process:

  • Could they make it on their own if you said 'no?'

  • Are you engaging in codependent or enmeshed behaviors by saying 'yes?'

  • Does giving into your child's monetary expectations threaten your financial security?

  • Will giving your child money now improve their long-term financial future?

  • If one of my friends was experiencing this situation, what would I advise them to do?

While the details of your children's financial lives are inherently unique, it's important to consider the broad strokes. With that, it's helpful to do a gut check for yourself. Do you trust your child to spend this money wisely? Have they taken advantage of your generosity in the past?

Assess Your Own Financial Situation

Parents have such good intentions when it comes to their kids. Nobody wants to feel like they're failing their children. But you risk perpetuating more problems if you overlook your own financial priorities when doling out cash.

So, before giving money, it's important to evaluate whether you're even in a position to responsibly help your adult kids. Sit down and look at your budget and savings. If possible, consider that voluntary financial support should be constructive. It should not be done from a place of resentment- nor should it be a massive financial burden to you.

Consider the Purpose of Giving Money

What's driving you to offer financial support?

Did your adult child come to you asking for assistance? Or are you assuming they need help based on certain circumstances in their life? Do you want to give a one-time payment for something significant like a first car or a down payment on a home?

If it's the first scenario, dig a little deeper. Do they need help covering essential bills like rent or groceries? Or, are they struggling with budgeting and wanting to buy things they just can't afford- and they're turning to you for those funds?

If it's the second scenario, more self-reflection is needed. Some parents offer monetary help because they don't want to see their child struggle. But struggle can mean different things to different people, and you should consider if you're giving money to prevent your child from feeling any real sense of adversity. While this may feel noble, it can magnify a codependent relationship and stunt your child's independence.

Discuss Your Financial Boundaries

While most parents unquestionably want to help their kids financially, it's still important to consider your limits. With that, aim to establish transparent financial boundaries and expectations when offering financial help. For example, you should communicate whether the money is a one-time gift, a loan that you expect to be paid back, or more of an ongoing financial assistance based on current circumstances.

Remember that your boundaries are only as effective as your commitment to uphold them. It's important to stick to your limits. This becomes especially crucial if your child gets into a habit of requesting more money- or doesn't use your money appropriately.

Review Monetary Alternatives

If you're concerned about your child's ability to act responsibly, it's important to consider substitute options for financial support. For example, if you're concerned about your child lying about where your money goes, you might avoid giving them direct cash. Instead, you can pay their bills directly or buy the necessary items (i.e. car insurance payments, groceries, furniture) yourself.

Don't Overlook Other Adult Children

Even when unspoken, it's easy for family dynamics to feel lopsided at any point. So, if you have multiple children, you must consider the ramifications of giving money to just one of your kids. If you choose this option, you risk your child's siblings becoming resentful of that individual or of you and your spouse.

That doesn't mean you necessarily need to give everyone equal amounts of money. But it does mean you should consider that young adults generally want to receive fair and equal treatment. If you're giving more to one, consider how this might affect the family as a whole.

Improving Family Dynamics and Self-Sufficiency With Resurface Group

At Resurface Group, we help young adults overcome adversity, recover from mental health problems, and live meaningfully. If you're a parent concerned about your adult child or continuously getting into power struggles, you're not alone. We offer a variety of professional support options for you or your loved one.

Our dynamic program, Resurface Connect, provides adaptable, innovative mental health treatment and substance use treatment for people throughout California. This track is fully virtual and provides client-focused care tailored to your child's unique needs. We also accept most HMO and PPO insurance plans.

Contact us today to learn more.

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