Should you give money to your adult children?

Should you give money to your adult children?

This week's reader question is an example of why I love the “ask the readers” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. I get to write about situations that otherwise would never occur to me!

Karen writes because she's having trouble with two of her kids:

I keep getting sucked into helping two of our children who can't seem to get it together. I don't want to see them on the street but they keep making dumb mistakes. What do you do when faced with a kid going to prison for lack of funds to pay fines? What about a different kid who is at risk of becoming homeless? This is tough to watch. (I really prefer dogs!) When does helping a family member financially become enabling? Or is it always enabling?

I find this situation fascinating because there's a disconnect between my general advice about giving money to adult children and my specific advice for Karen.

Why You Shouldn't Give Money to Adult Children

My standard advice is: Don't help your kids financially. Doing so harms both you and your kids. A decade of reading about money and hundreds of conversations with parents have brought me to this conclusion: Giving adult children financial support is, generally speaking, a bad idea.

Some people don't want to hear this, especially coming from me. (I have no children, so that disqualifies my advice in the eyes of some folks…as if it's impossible to recognize that a person has a broken bone if you've never had one yourself!)

But it's not just my opinion. In The Millionaire Next Door [my review], authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko devote two entire chapters — 69 pages! — to “economic outpatient care”, the substantial financial gifts some parents give their adult children (and grandchildren). Their research indicates that “the more dollars adult children receive, the fewer they accumulate, while those who are given fewer dollars accumulate more”.

The authors note that some forms of economic outpatient care, including subsidizing an education and funding business ventures, have a strong positive influence on the recipients. (They teach the children “how to fish”.) But most financial assistance simply creates a cycle of dependence:

What is the effect of cash gifts that are knowingly ear-marked for consumption and the propping up of a certain lifestyle? We find that the giving of such gifts is the single most significant factor that explains lack of productivity among the adult children of the affluent.

Stanley and Danko write about four specific ways in which cash gifts to adult children create problems:

  • Giving encourages more consumption than saving and investing. In particular, Stanley and Danko warn about gifts of house down payments.
  • Gift receivers in general never fully distinguish between their wealth and the wealth of their gift-giving parents. They believe they are entitled to the things their parents have, and feel resentment if the wealth is given to somebody else.
  • Gift receivers are significantly more dependent on credit than are non-receivers. They use credit in order to sustain their lifestyle of consumption between gifts.
  • Receivers of gifts invest much less money than do non-receivers. The authors claim that gift receivers are “hyperconsumers”, only thinking of now. They have come to expect that their financial needs will be met by their parents, so they don't plan for the future.

I've known people who received financial assistance from their parents or grandparents. Most of these people have struggled with money in some way. They spent too much. They didn't feel the need to take a job. They put off making financial decisions because there was no need to do so. One time, for instance, I had an affluent friend who received a $25,000 gift from his grandparents. Rather than invest the money, he bought himself a new car. (There was nothing wrong with his old car.)

Obviously, not everyone who receives financial assistance from their parents will fall into this trap. But accepting such gifts often leads to trouble.

Note: There's another downside too. When parents give money to an adult child, they're compromising their own financial health. They're sacrificing saving for retirement (or other goals), which means they're hurting themselves as well as their kids! In my own life right now, I'm watching as two different sets of parents struggle to make ends meet because they're giving up money they need for themselves in order to help children who are perfectly capable of providing for themselves — except they were never encouraged to leave the nest.

What If Your Kid Will End Up Homeless?

Now, having said all this, what about Karen's situation? She has one child who is at risk of going to prison because she (or he) hasn't paid some fines. The other is at risk of ending up homeless. Should Karen simply sit back and allow her children to suffer?

I've had two weeks to think about this question. Some days, I feel as if there's no way Karen should let her kids go to jail or end up homeless. Other days, I feel like she should absolutely let them experience the consequences of their actions. Most of the time, however, I feel like this is a tough call and not something a stranger can decide.

So, I tried to practice some financial empathy. I ask myself what I would do if I were in Karen's shoes. What if I did have kids? What if they made some stupid-ass choices? (That's how Karen described her kids when she wrote to me, which cracks me up.)

Honestly, I don't know what I'd do. I have no clue what the right decision is in this situation.

What do you think? Is it always a parent's duty to protect their children, even when they're adults? If you ended up in jail because you did something dumb with money, would you expect your parents to bail you out? If you were at risk of becoming homeless, would it be your mom and dad's responsibility to help you? What's the right choice here? Is there one?

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Heartless
Heartless
2 years ago

I think she should let them suffer the natural consequences of their actions. If you keep rescuing them, they won’t learn.

I say this as the mom of three teenage boys who have been rescued by their dad out of various situations where the life lesson would have really benefitted them.

Sharon
Sharon
1 year ago
Reply to  Heartless

I absolutely agree with Heartless. My late husband was an enabler and he gave money to his son throughout his adult life. His son spent more money than he made, period! After multiple times of giving money, I told my husband he was enabling his son to be irresponsible and that his son would continue to accumulate debt because he knows you will bail him out. My husband just could not let his son “suffer.” My husband passed from cancer in 2016, and I never heard a word from my stepson (40 now) until he texted 1.5 months ago asking… Read more »

Rick
Rick
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon

You’re his stepmother so most people aren’t surprised you aren’t giving him his inheritance.

Bamamajik
Bamamajik
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick

This is absurd, his inheritance? I believe he got “his” inheritance all this adult life. I bet you were one of these dead beat kids that expected to be “set up for life” as well right?

Jeff
Jeff
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick

Sounds like he has been “given” plenty. She’s not obligated to give that 40-year old entitled man-child squat.

Somewhere in the USA
Somewhere in the USA
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick

You are defending him, so most people here aren’t surprised that you’re probably a bitter spoiled man with entitlement issues whose parents stopped financially enabling you at, oh…40-ish?

Shocked
Shocked
8 months ago
Reply to  Rick

His inheritance? His father didn’t leave him an inheritance. Had his father wanted to leave him an inheritance he would have. No one owes this deadbeat loser son anything. It’s ridiculous that he thinks he has something coming. He didn’t earn it.

Linda
Linda
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon

Sharon, you are telling my story. All his life, my 45-year-old son has hit us up for money. He has a college degree, an excellent personality, had great success in sales early on–until he decided every boss is an ignorant asshole who has no idea how to run a business. Consequently, of course, he is chronically unemployed. His wife left him with their children several years ago but continues to pay all the expenses at their home. His dad always gave him money. I was the hard liner; dad was the soft touch. I’m talking many, many thousands to finance… Read more »

Truthfully
Truthfully
8 months ago
Reply to  Linda

No means no. Be empowered and make your own decisions!

Cheri
Cheri
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon

So, what if they admit something is mentally wrong with them and they are on the brink of suicide?

Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon

Sharon, kudos to you for having the backbone to not be an enabler. Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach him to fish he eats for life. If his dad had wanted to leave him an inheritance, it would have been in his will. I myself am struggling with a relationship of my 26 year old step son. He has been battling drug issues and is not financially responsible. I haven’t heard from him in over a year after I had a family meeting and told everyone to not help him with money. He now states… Read more »

T
T
3 months ago
Reply to  Sharon

Very clear he has a spending issue and maybe a gambling addiction (a disease) by the sounds of it. What if you wait Until he commits suicide due to the lack of financial stability? That’s a very real possibility. Many people would pick death over being homeless. Tell me, what is the correct answer if it comes down to life vs death?

Jacoby Smith
Jacoby Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Heartless

Every kid is different tho so while some may look at it as a mistake & jus want a free bail out & some look at it as a close call & lesson learned & may not need or deserve to suffer thru the consequences..

Sasha
Sasha
11 months ago
Reply to  Heartless

I don’t think parents should support their child or give handouts once they reach 18 or 21. We never asked our parents for a single penny. We knew they had hardships. Kids now think they are entitled, not realizing that parents shouldn’t work till they die. Just to give their money to their kids.

Ok boomer
Ok boomer
10 months ago
Reply to  Sasha

Weren’t houses like $100k tho? and college was a tenth of the price it is now stfu lol

JM
JM
9 months ago
Reply to  Ok boomer

Yeah, and minimum wage back then was 2.35 an hour. We also didn’t have the scholarship programs that kids have today or the internet to breeze through school. We had to share one phone because no one had cell phones back then or computers, so we had to go to the library and hope that the book we wanted to check out for our term paper wasn’t already being borrowed. I know how rough you kids have it now!!!! Our life was a breeze!!

JM
JM
9 months ago
Reply to  JM

Oh, and being old, I forgot about the part where if you couldn’t afford college back then, you couldn’t go. No enabling parents to give us money every month because we were spoiled rotten, selfish, entitled little assholes. They told us to suck it up and get a job.

Janet Wagner
Janet Wagner
6 months ago
Reply to  Heartless

I have a friend who has been financially subsidized by her parents, her entire life. She is now almost 60 and her father worked until he was 82 years old. Just to help her out financially. Her parents are not at all rich people. In fact lower middle class. Every month they give her large sums of money to pay for her groceries, mortgage, etc. Yet every year she goes on extravagant vacations. I can understand if she went on a local vacation. Like camping. The beach or a amusement park. Instead she goes on trips to Europe etc. Always… Read more »

Joe
Joe
2 years ago

This is a tough one. Academically, you shouldn’t enable your children, but I wouldn’t be able to follow that in real life. I would do what I can to keep my kid out of jail or going homeless.

However, she’ll have to cut it off at some point if this is a chronic thing. It’s hard. Hopefully, this is not due to drugs because the stories seem to keep going downhill.

Hopefully, our kid will learn to keep himself out of trouble…

Linda HOPE
Linda HOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

I like your response. My adult son every week is needing money. I have managed to get the amount down some but it’s every week. His wife does not work. Won’t get a job. She says he don’t want her to work . My husband who is not his father gets mad at me for giving in. I think he is being unfair to me.

BigBallz
BigBallz
1 year ago
Reply to  Linda HOPE

Why is your ‘ adult ‘ son who has a wife obtain get or receive money from a parent on a regular basis. This is not acceptable!

narek
narek
1 year ago
Reply to  BigBallz

Is it your husband or your son who is being unfair to you? I appreciate this is a difficult issue emotionally, it can be gut wrenching, but please do consider that you may be, no, ARE crippling your son and keeping both he and his wife from wrestling with reality. Is it his “pride” as the husband that doesn’t want his wife to work? If that is so, where is his “pride” when it comes to asking his mother for a weekly allowance as an adult and married man? As an adult child who has been on the other end… Read more »

Sasha
Sasha
11 months ago
Reply to  Linda HOPE

All I can say is OMG. Stop that insanity. You are enabling.

dh
dh
2 years ago

I used to know this wealthy, tough old business owner back in the early 90’s who had two f-up adult kids. We were discussing them one day, and he said, “They will either grow up or die on the streets.” Well, I watched them both grow up and become really responsible people. On the other hand, there have been two other adults I’ve observed over the years who have received large hand-outs from parents every year — one doesn’t even bother to work or get a job, though does pretty well in life otherwise. The other one doesn’t have a… Read more »

Jack
Jack
2 years ago

Play baseball! 3 strikes you’re out. My parents helped me 3 times and that was it. Had to stand on my own 2 feet. Hated my parents, hated my sibs, hated myself, hated my job, hated my friends etcetcetc
But I did it. Have wife, 2 college educated kids, home with 10 left on mortgage and money in 501c3 account. I work for a non-profit. This is 30 years later and looking back.

BusyMom @ CountdownToTranquility
BusyMom @ CountdownToTranquility
2 years ago

I agree mostly. However, I do not want my son to start his life with a huge debt. I will contribute towards his college, though I will not pay the entire sum. He should have enough motivation to finish, and do well. If we both (or atleast one of us) live as much as the life expectancy, he will not be too young to get whatever we leave behind. In the best case scenario, he would be financially independent by then. We will probably leave most of the money to charity. It is the in between case that is difficult.… Read more »

Ellie
Ellie
2 years ago

I’m in my 30s and my parents give us large sums of money on a regular basis. It’s never asked for an it’s never expected. We received a five figure sum to help move an adoption process along, we received a small four figure sum to help with the testing that wasn’t covered by insurance that determined we wouldn’t be able to have biological kids, we received another amount of money to contribute towards the purchase of a house. We’ve probably received well over 100,000 from my family over our adult lives and that doesn’t include the cars (we get… Read more »

EM
EM
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellie

We are in a similar situation. My parents paid for college for me and bought me my first car, and then I went out, got a job, and took care of myself going forward (I’m in my late 30s now). I never dreamed of mooching off them, I couldn’t wait to be independent. In my 20s my grandparents, before they passed away, regularly gifted me (and the other grandchildren) with $12k at a time (part of their estate planning). I don’t know what the others did with their gifts, but I have always been extremely careful with money so I… Read more »

Sara
Sara
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellie

Ellie, my parents are also a lot like yours. They even offer us their old cars every time they buy new ones – (we even took them up on it once and insisted on paying them whatever we got for the car that we sold and we’ve been driving our “discount corolla” for the last decade 🙂 I think a big thing is that we never ask, and we often don’t take the money when they offer it. It has made me feel better the couple of times I accepted the money – and we only accepted when it really… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellie

Thank you for this! We too are in a similar situation and it irks me to no end that people think it can’t be done. My parents have loaned both me and my brother money (they hold our mortgages) and it is an official loan with interest and reported to the IRS. They earn more interest than a bank would give them. We pay less interest than we would on a traditional loan. They don’t hold it over us and they don’t want us paying it off early as it benefits them. They have also gifted money at times for… Read more »

Kandee
Kandee
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellie

Wow this totally makes sense.. I understand each and every child ( I need to learn this) needs to learn from themselves and have consequences for their own actions as resulting in losing everything if the fall pick them up, later let them pick themselves up. They’ve got to learn it is their own responsibility to make sure all is ok . Some parents don’t( can’t ) have the ability to teach their children what needs to be taught.. Children learn what they live whether or not they forgo the responsibility to carry on.. I believe this, ,, but very… Read more »

Dave @ Married with Money
Dave @ Married with Money
2 years ago

Eek, what a tough question.

On one hand I don’t think Karen should help. It’s her kids that got themselves into that spot, and helping may just mean that both Karen AND her kids are in a tough spot down the road. At some point you’ve got to let people make their own mistakes.

On the other, it’s her kids…and anyone being homeless or going to prison for something like that would be something I can imagine any parent would want to prevent.

I don’t know what I’d do…

Tugumak
Tugumak
2 years ago

Not really tricky for me…
Parents should support their children while they´re growing up. And (if possible) during their first education to get a job.
After that they have to stand on their own feet – with all consequences.
Without taking the consequences of their actions they won´t learn anything…
Parents have to have a kind of self-loving-feeling – they are not responsible for the lives of their adult children.
Can be tough, but thats my feeling.

Lee
Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  Tugumak

I’ve done prison ministry. I think there are more folks out there who were not bailed out financially by parents and left to serve their time (or live a while in a homeless shelter) who would say they learned valuable life lessons and are better for the experience than there are folks who can say their parents’ constantly bailing them out financially made them better/more responsible people!

jp
jp
2 years ago

Is this a “first time offense”? If this is NOT the first time (for either of them), then no way would I bail them out. If it is a first time thing, I would bail them out, but they would have to agree to pay me back, they would have to agree to some “life” classes and/or therapy (something that can help prevent this in the future) and it would be very clear that I would not be bailing them out again.

jp
jp
2 years ago
Reply to  jp

Me again, I guess I should also add, I have no kids as well, so there is that. And to add to J.D.’s last set of questions: “If you ended up in jail because you did something dumb with money, would you expect your parents to bail you out?”: Nope. I would be too ashamed to even tell them! “If you were at risk of becoming homeless, would it be your mom and dad’s responsibility to help you?”: Depends on the circumstances: if it was because i was a reject with money, no way. If it was because both my… Read more »

Kathryn
Kathryn
1 year ago
Reply to  jp

I agree. We just loaned our son money for a lawyer b/c he got a dui, license suspended, and may have to face some jail time. He has made several destructive choices over the past few years, but never needs $$ or a lawyer. We said only this once will we help. we set up a draft on his bank account to pay us back over his next 4 paychecks. His license is suspended for 6 mo. So he said he is selling his car because he won’t be able to afford his car insurance. We said we will loan… Read more »

mb
mb
2 years ago

My brother put my parents in similar situation. They bailed him out many times, and they did not bail him out many times, neither worked. But what I would say, depending on the record the child would end up with, I would bail him out once. A felony can irreparably harm a persons future, a misdemeanor not so much. If this is drugs, good luck.

KM
KM
1 year ago
Reply to  mb

Do you think it would make a difference if our children appreciated our efforts? I have made the last two car payments and helped my daughter with car repairs. She owes me about $2,000. I have tried to give her sound advice on budgeting and saving money but she isn’t really grasping on to the concept as of yet. I am on the car loan with her, another bad idea. I have given her two weeks to either come up with the money she owes for the last car payment I made or I will have to take the car.… Read more »

Pete
Pete
2 years ago

Depends on what you’re helping with. Education, downpayment on a home, fine, as long as they’re responsible people. Bail for not paying traffic tickets? Tough. Other kid has no job? Too bad.

Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
2 years ago

She needs to talk to each kid separately, adult to adult. I’d be more inclined to provide non-money help, like letting the almost-homeless kid move back home. But it wouldn’t be free. Nominal rent would be charged and a chore schedule would be worked out. If I could afford it, I would save the nominal rent and let him use it as a security deposit on an apartment. He/she would also know this is a one-shot, limited-time offer. Take it or leave it. In the other situation, I’d try to sit down with the kid, again adult to adult, and… Read more »

Joye Fitts
Joye Fitts
8 months ago
Reply to  Tina in NJ

My husband has always been overly generous to his two now adult daughters, 57 and 60, He was a widower when I met him , we have been married 19 years. He has sold part of the farm he grew up on and gave them 60,000.00 each, which we paid the taxes on. They received it as a “gift” so they paid no tax on it. Now he is terminally ill, they visit and go out and get food for him once or twice a week. He even wants me to give them money to replace what they spend on… Read more »

Sue
Sue
2 years ago

I have been there in both situations with my kids. The one I said she could come live with me but only under the condition she is enrolled in college or tech school to further her education. Otherwise I would have left her lose her appt She knew i would do it too.

My son, got a DUI – I left him in Jail. He needed to wait to get out cover all of his costs – It set him back quite a ways but what do you teach them if you do it all for them?

Wesley
Wesley
2 years ago

I agree with the comments above. The only thing I’ll add is that kids (and people in general) like to know what to expect in the future. If she does decide to bail them out, it’d be a relatively easy decision to tell them that she loves them and that this is the last time. They are on their own afterward.

At that point, they know what to expect, and can plan (or not plan) accordingly. Tough place to be in. I wish her the best

Cheryl Hofgaard
Cheryl Hofgaard
1 year ago
Reply to  Wesley

I am someone with chronic medical conditions: Chronic Lyme disease, chronic gastritis, and Type II diabetes that has killed my pancreas. Watching my diet and exercising has not helped me avoid being on insulin. I work full time, work a part-time job, do overtime when I can, though it causes a bad pain flareup that I have to push through, and some days, can not. I have $10000 in medical debt from surgeries, going to multiple doctors to rule out MS and Lupus, I have symptoms of both, until diagnosed with Chronic Lyme that mimics autoimmune diseases. I’ve completely changed… Read more »

ND
ND
2 years ago

I went through some medical issues and my husband lost his job at the same time. This depleted our savings pretty quickly. My parents loaned me a few grand so I wouldn’t have to borrow from my retirement accounts. My father has a strong pension after working for the state and my mother is currently working. Their finances are healthy. I’ll pay them back and it’s no big deal. I think it’s very situational.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago

Would help SOME with college. Would help once or maybe twice with the other situations. That’s it. Other family members and I used to help an irresponsible relative. After a few years we stopped. It took him a few painful years, but he became responsible once he realized the free ride was over .

Me
Me
2 years ago

Don’t give money to adults (they’re NOT kids and thinking of them as kids is part of the problem). If they are to the point of homelessness or jail then there is no way for her to help. That’s pathological behavior and a cash infusion isn’t what they need. It’s buying bandaids for a cutter, someone who injurs themselves. I have seen this play out in my husband’s family with both his mom and his sister. We know as soon as the money runs out from his grandfather’s inheritance they will be turning to us. And we have discussed what… Read more »

Marty
Marty
2 years ago
Reply to  Me

This is a good one and I agree. I have a step daughter and daughter that have been in this boat. Always asking for money. If it is for food, ok, but not to help you out of a bind or what ever you did to get fired. One has been in jail for not appearing in court, the other in rehab. We paid for rehab, but not bail. Warned her to show up to court several times and she ignored it, hoping it would just go away. Well we are taking care of her son right now, while she… Read more »

CG
CG
1 year ago
Reply to  Me

You speak from a very narrow, “sheltered” viewpoint, ( like many do, whom have never really lived, or known the other side of things from which you grew up ) I have known many homeless, and/or convicted criminal types, as I have been on the street, ( however I have never been arrested, or even had so much as a misdemeanor ) I come from a VERY professional family background, many of those on the street have serious drug/alcohol/mental issues, but many DO NOT , what got them there, or keeps them there are sometimes very tragic, or unfortunate personal… Read more »

Big-D
Big-D
2 years ago

So I have strong feelings about this topic as both gift giver to my son and recipient from my parents. First my son. My 23 year old son, while definitely not as frugal as I or having any semblance of budgeting that myself can figure out (MBA in finance), has never been in serious debt, and worked a job constantly since he was 16. He currently is a college grad, lives with me to keep money costs down, but I make him pay rent ($200 a month, just as a token item so it is not free). I have provided… Read more »

Jan
Jan
2 years ago
Reply to  Big-D

I read this as “I feel, strongly, that parents should give money to their kids.” Correct? Your, not so little, D is living with you at a time he could be going out and making it on his own….something to think about. Were not those early struggles valuable lessons on how to stand on our own? We are not our children. The drive we had is often not inherited. Just some thoughts.

Holly
Holly
2 years ago
Reply to  Jan

Jan – I completely understand where you’re coming from, but I think drive doesn’t necessarily have to come from struggle. If you’ll note in my reply below, I was very fortunate to have funding similar, or even more generous, then Big-D noted above. I completely recognize how fortunate I am to have been set up so well in life, partially because it allowed me to focus my drive and effort on things other than money. I graduated college after 3 years at 20 years old with a 3.99 GPA, top of my class, while playing a Division 1 sport. If… Read more »

Jan
Jan
2 years ago
Reply to  Holly

Holly- You, actually, prove my point exactly. You chose to go out and make a living in four different places at age 20. Those were struggles- just made in a financially secure way.
The parent’s house is where you land if you are in school or something tragic happens. JMHO.

Adventure Mom
Adventure Mom
1 year ago
Reply to  Jan

I used to believe this too. Mostly because I’m driven, and I struggled to become a successful business owner before I met my husband. I owned a home and had my financial ducks in a row. I was really proud of that. When my in-laws gave us 100k towards our first house as a couple I felt insulted. I felt that it meant they didn’t trust us to make it on our own. Looking back I was so resistant that I actually feel embarrassed now. I was so sure there would be a catch that I was even hostile about… Read more »

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago

I think Karen should talk to a therapist. In my experience often parents, especually moms, are vulnerable to highly emotionally charged situations partially due to their own guilt or other issues. A good psychologist could also help bring things into perspective and offer advice on HOW to stop giving money if that’s what she decides. Because it will be ugly and the kids will likely lash out and she’s got to be ready. Working through whatever those grenades are beforehand and owning whatever part she has in the mess will be important to fixing it.

Victoria
Victoria
2 years ago
Reply to  S.G.

Yes! Good point about therapy.

Eilen
Eilen
2 years ago
Reply to  S.G.

Best advice in this thread.

Every situation is different and Karen could use some support from someone who can learns the dynamics and specifics at work.

Sam
Sam
2 years ago

As a parent I know it would be terribly difficult to let one of my children go homeless or prison. I am their parent and will always love them, no matter what. I don’t think the answer is as simple as do you write a check or not. Obviously they need help, but I think the short term need (prison or homelessness) is a symptom of other problems in their lives being manifest if a fiscal way. Time should be taken to listen to them and find out what has taken them to this point, and what they plan to… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
2 years ago

It 100% depends on the adult “child” and their parents. Someone up above mentioned that their parents helped them out with goals that aligned with the values they were raised in…and I think that’s an important key. If the adult is still on a journey to self-sufficiency, and past actions show that they are truly working towards that goal, the. I don’t think giving them a leg up will corrupt them. However, if they have a pattern of being irresponsible, then yes, it would. If my family gave me $10,000 today, as a gift, I would invest it immediately. I’d… Read more »

Victoria
Victoria
2 years ago
Reply to  lmoot

Thumbs up

sequentialkady
sequentialkady
2 years ago

Speaking from my own life & what my brother went through about 10 years ago, I think it’s fair to help out an adult child when there is a genuine (not self-inflicted) crisis. My brother was hit by the triple whammy of losing his job in the recession, an acrimonious (and expensive) divorce, and a mental health crisis. There should be a family discussion about how to make things fair (there was), and there should be a timeline and an action plan (with consequences) to insure progression (ex: if X doesn’t happen by Y date, Z happens.). Any allowance of… Read more »

PennySaved
PennySaved
2 years ago

There is a lot of wisdom here, and also the sentiment that this is a very touchy and emotional topic. The p/maternal instinct to shelter and care for your children comes into violent conflict with the rational notion that they need to learn financial independence. J.D. cited The Millionaire Next Door and its extensive section on how to raise a fiscally healthy child….I recommend this too! It bears reading and re-reading. In my own extended family is an only child of wealthy, now deceased parents who were still paying her credit card bills when she was in her thirties and… Read more »

Victoria
Victoria
2 years ago

My parents paid for my college education in full. I will forever be grateful. To graduate with no debt and a great GPA was awesome. They also bought me a cheap car when I was in college. They’ve supported all of their children with college education, shelter, and transporation. However, these days they continue to enable one of my siblings who is nearly 30 and jobless, degree-less, and aimless. It is simultaneously frustrating and heart-breaking. I don’t have kids of my own, but based on my experience with my family and based on my beliefs in regarding Christians taking care… Read more »

CalLadyQED
CalLadyQED
2 years ago

Ouch. I suddenly realized that Karen is my mother’s name. Now I’m worried that things are more dire with my siblings than I was aware. o_O

Steveark
Steveark
2 years ago

We haven’t helped our grown millennial kids in any significant way with the exception of giving them the college money we saved for them since they all earned free rides to college and then when I received an inheritance I passed an tiny part ($10,000 each) to the three of them since they had all been good grandkids to my parents. However as long as they are sticking close to the values we taught we would consider helping them if they needed it. Kind of doubt any of them would ever ask though.

Don K
Don K
2 years ago

We would give what we could when we could do it in a way that didn’t hurt us. We gifted money for an inexpensive car in a crunch to one daughter and plucked another daughter off a park bench with a plane ticket home when she ran out of money while on walkabout in England. Then we reformated our finances using the infinite banking model. We have a pool of money available as cash value in our life insurance policies that may be accessed as a loan for any reason with a phone call. The interest charged is 4.4% by… Read more »

Jan
Jan
2 years ago

I will take it one step further- no child should enter the parent’s business either. My father took my brothers into the family business. They did not have the same skills- or work ethic (you know it always looks easier from the child side). Dad sold out and brothers ran it into the ground. Of course it was dad’s fault.They are still dependent (not destitute) on my mother–for anything they can get from her. It was a tough set up. And forget the counseling—they have burned through a good sum doing that….. I contend that by bringing the sons into… Read more »

Jan
Jan
2 years ago

My half-brother milked my mother till the day she died at 82 monthly for money. He didn’t even show up at her funeral and none of us girls have heard from him since. He held it over my mother’s head all those years by saying she hadn’t provided him with the opportunities that others had when he was young. Ugh! In the mid-80s, I worked for the FDIC in Omaha. Warren Buffet purchased a farm from us for his son. His son has done remarkable things to benefit and teach those in poor countries with his knowledge of farming. (Another… Read more »

ISR
ISR
2 years ago

I think most of these answers are useless unless the writer has been in a situation like that. It’s always easy to say “I would do this or that” in a certain situation, but when you’re really in that situation it might look completely different. My adult son needed $600 for rehab and I decided to pay for it and I’m so glad I did. He has been clean for 2 1/2 years and has turned his life around. Two of the people he hung out with during his abuse time, are dead now and I’m so glad that I… Read more »

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago
Reply to  ISR

That’s a valid point but I disagree. While a lot of people spout off about what they don’t have experience with it is also very hard to get perspective when you’re too close to a situation. I find it important in my own life to run scenarios to determine what my principles are before being faced with a situation then try to stick to those principles when it’s in front of me. If you’re already in deep then getting perspective from outside can help you pick a direction based on principles rather than being overwhelmed by the emotion of the… Read more »

Michael King
Michael King
2 years ago

I think it is very situational for the helping adult children out. I think like many said what Karen is dealing with is on another level and she should probably be giving less financial and more advise. For general kids, I think helping them get to the point they can stand on their own two feet is important. There is just so many ways that essentially are win-wins with 529 plans in such you can earn money tax-free. Also, I think doing so can help them immensely. My parents let me live with them after I couldnt find a job… Read more »

Freida
Freida
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael King

I am not a parent. However I think this is the general concept of parenthood. Help your child with education and moral support. The hope is they will be financially able to take care of themselves and maybe help you at some point. I would also like to express my personal experience. I always had some type of job since age 15. I had a protracted illness during my prime earning years (40-50). I ended up spending my life’s savings and then some for medical insurance and bills, all the while not being fully employed. In the current economic climate,… Read more »

Holly
Holly
2 years ago

I think it depends on the kid and whether there are expectations and consequences tied to the money. I received a lot of financial assistant from my parents as an ‘adult’, but then again I was fulfilling my end of the bargain. Ie. I was told I had $x amount for college, and could take loans if I wanted (I didn’t), but I had to graduate in 4 years with a degree. I graduated in 3 years top of my class. I have a car my parents got me, but it’s ‘my dads car’ – so I can’t sell it,… Read more »

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago
Reply to  Holly

I think you should re-post this on the threat asking how you teach your kids about money. These are excellent examples of ways your parents encouraged good behavior.

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago
Reply to  S.G.

Thread! On the thread! Stupid autocorrect. It hates me.

Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen
2 years ago

I have never been in this situation – but my sister was for years and years. The outcome was nothing but tragic – she handed out money every time she was afraid her children would go to jail or be out on the street. It started when they were young all the way into their thirties – one died at 30 from a heroin overdose – eleven months later her son – 34 – was hit and killed in a hit and run accident – he had alcohol and cocaine in his system – was crossing a street at 5:30… Read more »

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago
Reply to  Mary Ellen

Is my experience problems escalate if you don’t learn from them. If you don’t think you can handle your kid learning a $1000 mistake or a night in jail you’re really going to hate the next one if you protect them from it.

Teress S.
Teress S.
2 years ago

My husband and I will pay for many of the undergraduate expenses for our kids, so long as they are doing well at their studies… and possibly a portion of advanced studies, provided wehabe the means. We consider helping with college to be paying our kuds their inheritance up front.

But, no, I wouldn’t pay money to prevent adult children from suffering the consequences of their own actions. If my child racked up unpaid tickets, I wouldn’t pay them off. If my child couldn’t/wouldn’t work to earn money for housing, that’s on them.

Jennifer
Jennifer
2 years ago

Our kids are still teens, so I can only talk about this from the POV of a child and sibling with relative affluence. DH and I worked hard, made personal sacrifices, and were very, very lucky in what we have gotten financially. Our sibs started with similar advantages, but have generally not done as well, for various reasons. Early on, we discussed our financial “boundaries” for helping out family members. Unforeseeable crises and mistakes — yes, as a gift we can afford. Repeated habits, foreseeable problems, and commitment to not changing anything — no. “Throwing good money after bad,” etc.… Read more »

Toni
Toni
2 years ago

I’ve lived by the following when raising my kids: I will bail them out – one time. When my daughter was late for the school bus, I took her to school, one time. After that, she had to be on time, or find a way to get there herself. It was a very cold January in Michigan, that she had to walk to school. She learned a great lesson. If they get into financial trouble and need help, I will do it – one time. If the second time means they will go to jail if I don’t help, I… Read more »

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
2 years ago

I have received a lot of financial help from family over the years and at times I feel guilty for it. But it has helped me to form a solid financial foundation for the rest of my life and I will always be grateful for it. I would hope that I could help my own kids in the same way if they needed help or were in trouble, within reason. I would pay the fines as jail can have a devastating effect on future prospects, but have a repayment schedule in place. I don’t think I would give money outright,… Read more »

"Karen"
"Karen"
2 years ago

“Karen” here. Thank you for some very insightful comments. Since so many mentioned drugs or alcohol, I wanted to say that substance abuse (nor any kind of violent crime) is not an issue. Also, we’re retired, and we have plenty of money for our needs and wants.

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago
Reply to  "Karen"

If this truly is carelessness that makes the situation worde in some ways. But i think it also makes it safer. Jail is extremely unpleasant, but should be physically safe. And “homelessness” doesnt necessarily mean desperate amd what you should do depends on the specific situation. Either way I’d let the “home” go. Then work with him/her on options. What those options are depends on work situation, social network, and if you’d trust him/her in your home for a short period (NOT indefinitely!). As others have said, if these are repeat mistakes then they’ve had chances and havent learned so… Read more »

infmom
infmom
2 years ago

My family had two generations of parents who gave money to their children any time the children wanted it. My grandfather supported my parents and my dad gave money to my brothers without expecting anything in return. Result? None of them ever learned how to manage money. (My dad offered me money from time to time but I never asked him for it and didn’t often accept it.) My husband and I stood on our own two feet from Day One and figured out our own financial problems. We never asked anyone for one red cent. As a result, my… Read more »

Sloughman
Sloughman
2 years ago
Reply to  infmom

My sister’s in-laws are like this as well. My sister and brother-in-law do not receive help and are comfortable. His sisters are teetering on the brink, and this is now being passed down to the next generation.

JoDi
JoDi
2 years ago

I read your story, then read all the comments, then went back and read what you wrote to J.D again. What jumped out at me the second time were these 2 phrases: “keeping getting” and “keep making.” These are not first-time mistakes your kids are making, they keep making them which leads me to the conclusion that helping further (and helping them thus far) is enabling. They haven’t learned from their prior mistakes, and it’s probably because they haven’t yet suffered the full consequences of any of them. It’s time to let them grow up.

JoDi
JoDi
2 years ago

sorry *keep getting*

Debbie
Debbie
2 years ago

I keep going back to the point that the two children “keep making dumb mistakes”. It is beyond me to think someone would have so many fines that they would end up in prison or whatever the other child is doing to end up homeless. That screams to me two young adults that have never learned that all actions come with results. Good and bad, all actions end up with results. There is the hint of addiction in this and it would be wise not to enable the two adult children to their death or the parent’s death from the… Read more »

JoeHx
JoeHx
2 years ago

Like everyone else has said, that’s a very tough question and place for a parent to be. On the one hand, I wouldn’t want my kids to go to jail or be homeless. On the other, I want them to be responsible – which means take responsibility and accept the consequences for their actions. So I guess I could answer that I’d bail them out – once – and expect them to pay me back. Or I’d let them live with me to avoid being homeless, but I’d want them to pay rent or somehow show that they can be… Read more »

Sloughman
Sloughman
2 years ago

Although I don’t know the particulars, I would likely pay fines if they were for something which wasn’t serious. Sell some of their old stuff in an online facebook market and use those funds to pay the fines. However, since they are facing jail time, I imagine they did something serious and they should likely face the consequences. I say this as a former dumbass, but I never went to jail or was even arrested. There must be layers of dumbass. Jail time could impact future career possibilities so I would help my kid out if it were their first… Read more »

mary w
mary w
2 years ago

How old are these “kids”? How many times has she already bailed them out? These are key questions to me. A 18-20 year old who foolishly thought tickets would disappear if s/he ignored them? I’d probably LOAN them the money. A 28-30 year old who I had bailed out 5 times before? NO. With a soon to be homeless child the question would be “why”? Escaping from an abusive relationship? Sure, but only once. Spent rent money elsewhere, AGAIN. No. My rule is that if I loan money once and it’s not paid back then never again. I suspect that… Read more »

Bethany D
Bethany D
2 years ago

The long-term goal in raising children is happy, healthy, independent adults. So just like it can take scraped knees to learn how to ride a bike, short-term that can mean letting them feel some pain. Would I pay for their apartment? No. The American fixation on separate housing is purely cultural; I personally would be quite willing to let a room to responsible adult children who had a string of bad luck, wanted to save for a house, were disabled, etc. But if they were going to be homeless due mainly to their own stupid choices then, until & unless… Read more »

Jill
Jill
2 years ago

I’m sure there are family arrangements that work, but I see this playing out in real-time with my in-laws and it’s worrisome. Just before my MIL retired my husband’s mom and step-dad sold their townhouse to buy a huge, million+ house for my SIL. They built a pricey in-law property in back and have dumped a lot of money into refurbishing the original structure (and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future). We assume they took on/are continuing to take on a lot of debt to do this, on top of the mortgage for the original structure and… Read more »

JH
JH
2 years ago

I’m fascinated to notice that you placed money gifts like random $25,000 or a down payment on a house on the same level as bail and rent. The former are things most of us function without just fine, the latter are things that the lack thereof can have profound financial, social and health consequences. I’m an adult child of parents who are wealthy, yet that down payment contribution is very likely to wait until they are dead and I’ve inherited. But they have given a car (their own newish one) to my brother when his broke down because where he… Read more »

KJ
KJ
2 years ago

Offering or taking repeated handouts risks creating a dynamic where adult dependence is OK, and perhaps expected.

I want my children to have the opportunity as young adults to earn confidence by providing for themselves.

I don’t plan on spoiling that opportunity.

Liz
Liz
2 years ago

Sorry but I had to write a whole post to respond to this question: If you are providing financial life support to an adult child, I just have one thing to say: You’re not doing them any favors. My brother in law, Danny, has had a spotty work record for the 31 years I’ve been in the picture. After he was fired, the story was that the boss was some variation of ogre. It was really that Danny had problems being told what to do. He was always smarter than his bosses. He may have been smarter–he tested quite high… Read more »

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