Are you financially supporting your adult child?

We had multiple readers yesterday say they wanted to discuss whether parents were financially supporting their adult children. Obviously this topic is particularly relevant in today’s economy with high unemployment rates and the job market bleak for college students when they graduate.

So, are you financially supporting your adult child? Are you sending supplementary cash for fun things? Are you buying them groceries, paying their rents, letting them live at home? How old is too old to be getting parental support? At what point do you tell them they need to look for a cheaper place to live or a roommate? Is it different when they have families as well? Are you more likely to aid your adult child when they are trying to care for your grandchildren too?

(I will work in my suggested topics over the next two weeks.)

89 comments Add your comment

JOD

March 16th, 2011
11:10 am

@M1chelle – I like that idea. DD is still young enough that it’s fun to help where she can, but at some point she might need a little compensation.

@POBiL – Have you considered a financial advisor, like someone from Edward Jones? Would they listen to someone like that? It sounds like an awful situation.

@DB – Amen!

@Lady Strange – As DB said, there’s a big difference between ‘helping’ and ’supporting.’ Helping each other is what family is for! Good luck getting back on your feet!

JJ

March 16th, 2011
11:20 am

@DB – I’m the same way……It’s not MY inheritance, it’s my Mom’s money. I would much rather have her spend it and enjoy it while she can, than to worry about what she is leaving my brother and when she’s gone. She enjoys taking us on nice vacations.

jmb

March 16th, 2011
11:43 am

My 19 year old daughter has been working since 16 and paid for all of her school clothes, entertainment, gas etc. since the day she starting working. We did give her a used car for graduation and continue paying the insurance but that’s it! I’m very happy with the young lady I’ve raised.

light

March 16th, 2011
11:56 am

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

Blessed to Prosper

March 16th, 2011
11:57 am

I came from a single parent home where my mother worked more than 40 hours a week, not only to make ends meet, but to give me additional things beyond necessity.

I had an aunt who would give me nice things such as designer clothes and shoes, when she cleaned out her closet. I started working at 15 because I liked shopping and wanted to continue wearing designer clothes.

I started college, and continued to work, but was forced to contribute to the household bills since I was still living at home. I wanted a car, so my mom put a down payment on my first car, and I had to make the monthly payments.

Paying some of the smaller households bills and paying my car note, taught me how to manage my money and bills. I think it’s imperative that parents start lessons of responsibility early, as kids will not learn any where else better.

I am blessed to have a good job and pay my bills and I am very grateful to my mother who taught me how to do these things. I could never repay her for all that she’s done. My job now is to help her. Everything I do to better myself is to help my mom even more. I pray that I am just as responsible and influential with my kids as she was, and still is.

Kids, parents should not have to take care of us for the rest of their lives.

Kate

March 16th, 2011
11:59 am

There is certainly no shortage of shameless freeloaders out there taking advantage of their parents, but as the daughter of a rather controlling mother, I can attest to the fact that helicopter parents will use financial support (needed or not) as a means of retaining control over their adult children. My older brother made the mistake of borrowing a large sum of money from our parents so that he and his wife could buy a house. Although he paid them back in full (and with interest) my mother still felt his house was at least partially hers and she had the right to show up whenever she pleased and harshly critique my brother and SIL’s housekeeping and decorating abilities. Although my mother almost had me convinced that I would NEVER be able to support or take care of myself without her, once I moved out of their house (in my early 20s) I never asked for, or accepted, a dime from my parents no matter how much I could have used it since I knew the strings attached to any money they gave me would stretch far and wide. Of course there is nothing wrong with helping out a family member in need, but I firmly believe one of the greatest, and unselfish, gifts you can give your children is their independence.

b

March 16th, 2011
12:03 pm

Good question. We are struggling with that right now. Oldest is graduating from college next month. Grad school acceptance just arrived but doesn’t begin until Oct. Decided fine to come home until then as long as working. We will not pay tuition for grad school. Will still carry health and car insurance and cell phone. Since no loans for college, grad school loan should not be a problem. Still up in the air about living expenses. After grad school, we will probably have the same discussion but unless there is no viable job, we won’t be subsidizing.

mom2alex&max

March 16th, 2011
12:13 pm

@doormat: no way. That money is YOURS. It is reimbursement for all the stuff (food, clothes, board, education, etc) that you have already paid for. Stand firm.

Becky

March 16th, 2011
12:19 pm

My parents never helped me after I moved out, nor did I ever ask..As has already been mentioned, as long as they are in school, I would be more than willing to help out..DB is right, there is a difference between supporting and helping out some..

To those that are saying the ex is way behind in child support, I think that now it never goes away..My sisters ex went on disability a few years back and she has been getting child support every month since then for her 31 year old..That might be some consolation..:~)

As for parents buying things for you here and there, if they want to and can, that’s great..I think as parents, you always want to help your children..Both of my parents are gone, so this isn’t an issue for me..:(

Have a coworker that lives at home with her Mom and her 21 year old son lives there as does the coworkers 45 year old brother..They will all be there until the Mom dies and then none of them will know what to do as the Mom babies all of them..The brother only works about 30 hrs. per week, drives the Mom’s car and complains all the time that he doesn’t have any money..Mom pays for all the gas in the car, car ins. all the food, and his cell phone bill..The Mom does all of the laundry for all of them..

@DB..Your last line is so true..Kids bitching about their parents spending their inheritance is so true..The coworker’s brother wants the Mom to sell the house and both cars, so that he can get “his money” now..WTH?…

catlady

March 16th, 2011
12:20 pm

Have I helped my adult children? Yes. And will as needed. Do I agree with every decision they have made? Not at all. (Heck, I don’t even agree with every decision I make!) Would I give them money to avoid having to work? No. Will I give them money if they just want something unnecessary? No. If they have an emergency need, or if I can provide something special but not expensive for my grandchildren (like lessons, for example)? Yes. But they are becoming more sensitive to my needs now, as an aging, not-in-great-health adult.

And they can always get some of the fresh or canned vegetables from my garden–no problem there.

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Denise

March 16th, 2011
12:40 pm

I had to move home for 6 months after I graduated from college because I didn’t have a job and that was the biggest hit to my self-esteem ever. I felt like the biggest failure! I had been on my own pretty much (full scholarship, Dad paid some of my bills, Mom did not) for 5 years and then I had to come home and go back to ask for spending money for the movies. Horrible! Not the staying at home part. My daddy was lenient and didn’t care what I did (I did because I was living in his house and I had my mind right.) Anyway, I didn’t work for a month; spent that time faxing resumes and trying to get a job. That didn’t work out so I went to work at a school supply store…with a degree in chemistry and a degree in chemical engineering…anything to have my own money! I was blessed with a job as a chemist 6 weeks later but I wanted to move back to Atlanta to be back on my own (and to be back by my boyfriend…don’t judge me, I was young and stupid. LOL). I took a low paying job to move back here. But I was on my own. Thank God I haven’t had to ask my parents for money! Prayerfully I will be able to stay on track. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to need HELP. Who can predict when you need HELP?

Now, there are people, like my brother, who put themselves in a position to need more than help. For example, his wife didn’t work and he worked in a restaurant as a cook. She brought 2 kids into the marriage and they have a kid together. (They are separated now…whole other subject). So they had 5 people eating and running the electricity on a cook’s salary. Hmmm…who do you think was filling in the gap? Not HER family! And no, she is not disabled. She can work. I know Mama has given my brother about $20K and Daddy gives them money and pays for most things for the boys (school supplies, uniforms, team sports registrations, etc.). Yeah, my brother works everyday. He has a better job, making much better money and he’s getting better at managing his money but there was a time when what he got was support…because he was stupid and not handling the business of his family right. THAT is the kind of “support” that puts a bad taste in your mouth. Oh yes, my parents complained about it…as they pulled out their check book. And yes, I participated. I felt guilty that I had so much and he had so little. I’m over it now.

DB

March 16th, 2011
12:47 pm

@Becky: It’s so sad — growing up, we had a family friend that often caused my parents to just shake their head in disbelief. He was utterly charming and completely irresponsible — four wives, no financial sense whatsoever, and his mother lost her paid-for house after he convinced her to take out a mortgage to pay off some of his debts “and he would pay the monthly payment”. He didn’t, she lost the house, and ended up living with a sister until she died. He ended up “living” in a 4th rate motel room and died there, buried in the county cemetery. I think the old-fashioned word for it is “feckless”. *sigh*

@catlady: Laughed at your comment (”Heck, I don’t even agree with every decision I make!”) Isn’t that the truth?! Goodness knows mistakes have been made — the trick is not to keep making them!

TinaTeach

March 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

@ jarvis- That’s funny! I think my life is insanely boring and routine. But I’m happy with it :o) (for the most part!)

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 16th, 2011
1:02 pm

“He said that I didn’t understand, that it made him feel bad that he wasn’t able to leave us an “estate””

Wow, my father has been quite clear since as far back as I can recall that if he dies with any money in the bank it means he failed at having a good time in life. But seriously, I am not expecting any inheritance at all. My dad has a pension and he lives a good life on it – he isn’t saving anything. Inheritance? Bah. When people in my family die you can tell they had fun cuz there ain’t a darn thing left. :)

TCH

March 16th, 2011
1:40 pm

I bought my first home @ 27, and was laid off @ 29. At the time, I told my dad I was thinking about renting my house out and moving back home. He told me no. He said he would help me if I stumbled while searching for a new job, but that I was an adult and adults don’t run challenges. At first I was a little hurt – after all, I am a daddy’s girl. But then, there was the realization that he was right, and that made me improve my interview skills and increase my career goals.

MomsRule

March 16th, 2011
1:50 pm

Excellent share TCH! And such a good lesson!

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
2:02 pm

@Tina, I think you guys are so interesting. A polyamorous couple with a child that is supporting/housing the husband’s parents.

Some might think that this would be a disfunctional situation, but at least from what you put on here, it seems to be a really normal healthy life.

deidre_NC

March 16th, 2011
2:04 pm

i have been a single parent for years….with low paying jobs for a while. my grandparents helped me out when i needed it, mainly with extras such as sports stuff for the kids. i was very gainfully employeed for several years and then was laid off right when the ‘recession’ hit and it took me 9 months to find a new job. and a much lower paying one at that. by then i had maxed my credit cards and savings (hard to live on unemployment as lots know) but i have been very lucky in that my kids have always worked as soon as they were able to do anything for pay. i have helped them at time, y sister has helped me at times, my kids have helped me at times. we all just help each other when one needs the help. the kids all help each other at times. i really have no problem with my kids living with me as long as they are working and helping with the bills and the house/yard work. my son mows my grass and wont take pay for it even when i can afford to pay him. i cant imagine my kids ever taking money from me for doing something to help me (there are things i cant do due to physical problems) but we all have helped each other out financially at different times. i was raised in my younger years with very extended family living under one roof, so i guess that doesnt bother me. my kids have all moved out now, but i have a 19 yo who has been my kids friend for years living with me. he got into drugs and went downhill and then picked himself back up, he works and pays a share of all the bills and does work around the house. he wants badly to get his own place and will as soon as he can, bu he just simply is financially able to at this time. as long as he goes by the rules (and that goes for any of my kids who may need to move home) and contributes to the household in a significant way i have no problem with my kids living here if they need to.

as far as living here freeloading…no way. there has to be some contribution.

Becky

March 16th, 2011
2:06 pm

@catlady..:~) being able to have canned or fresh food would be good enough for me..

@Thersa..Not sure if this is a good suggestion for a topic, but was wondering..I have a neice that lives in Texas and she’s a vegetarian..I’m not sure to what degree, but I just found out over the weekend that her 20 month old daughter has never eaten meat..Just wondering what others think..

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
2:14 pm

LOL. That read really funny. Obviously your child isn’t supporting your husband’s parents :-).

TinaTeach

March 16th, 2011
2:15 pm

@ jarvis- You’re right, many people do see it as disfunctional and outside the norm but I can say we have the same problems as many married couples (work stress, money stress, worry about our kid).
We both grew up in tri-generational households so having the in-laws with us really isn’t any different from the way we grew up.
As far as being polyamourous, it doesn’t work for everyone. You have to open, you can’t get jealous (well a tiny bit is okay!), and that if the other spouse say “no” you have to go by their word because your marriage comes before getting to play around with anyone else. It works for us.

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
2:20 pm

@Becky, while it is weird to me that the baby hasn’t ever eaten meat, it’s not that terribly unusual on a global scale. Nearly a billion Bhudist and Hindu children have never eaten it either.

What’s REALLY strange is that there is a vegetarian in Texas.

Kar

March 16th, 2011
3:08 pm

My father had a financial advisor talk to his Sunday School class about planning in their golden years. When someone asked how much of an estate they should leave, he said bluntly,

The last check [to them] should bounce. In other words spend it all. You could hear the jaws hitting the floor, they couldn’t think that way.

Denise

March 16th, 2011
3:22 pm

Becky, my friend and her “husband” (yeah right), eat meat but don’t let their kids eat it. “We’re going to stop eating it so we don’t want to get them started”. Oldest kid is 6. And yes, vegetarian and Texas is really the odd part. :-)

Wayne

March 16th, 2011
3:24 pm

@Denise: how long have they been eating meat and telling the kids they aren’t to do so?

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 16th, 2011
4:04 pm

@Denise – I went fully off meat, including fish and chicken, as well as eggs and milk..but have occasional cheese if the mood strikes…at age 10 (31 years ago OMG, when did I get so old?) by personal choice. Although I have generally been a “bad” vegetarian/vegan by not doing so, I know that with a properly balanced diet you can get all of the protein and other nutrients you need. One thing to watch for is B12 anemia….I used to have to get shots and now I take liquid when I am feeling low. Strange that they would put the kids off of meat first – normally it is the parents who settle into a vegetarian/vegan diet and then when they are comfortable and able to juggle the diet properly they bring in the kids. My 12yo son is a meat eater (and generally hates veg, go figure) and I would never dream of telling him that he had to share my diet, but if he ever wants to make the leap I will be here to help him…until then, I do my best to help him manage a proper diet that includes meat.

Denise

March 16th, 2011
4:06 pm

@Wayne, this is what’s funny. Both of the parents have been “trying” to be vegetarian for years. The mom (my friend) was a vegan wannabe for 13 minutes…until I had spaghetti at the house one day. The dad is Muslim so no pork (that’s the only thing that REALLY stands). They SNEAK and eat meat and seafood behind their kids’ backs. If they want to eat it at home, they have to eat it when their kids aren’t in the room or if they are in bed. Oldest kid is 6, going on 7. Youngest is newborn. I guess newborn is getting some meat by-products.

Wayne

March 16th, 2011
4:36 pm

LOL Spaghetti gets’em every time! I was heading down the path that it was a cost saving measure, but now, I’m not so sure. Why bother going through all that work hiding it from your kids? I just re-read your post and ‘got’ the meat by-products – very clever!

Becky

March 16th, 2011
4:38 pm

@jarvis..Yeah, I see that gobally..I just had never really heard of it with a child in the good ole USA..As far as there being a vegetarian in Texas, she’s originally from VA, so does that sound better:~)

@Denise..The neices Mom & Dad were that way about sugar..When the kids were little, they were never allowed to add sugar to anything..My sister
said her and BIL would sneak into the kitchen and put sugar into anything that needed it, then take it back to the table and eat it..She said her boys (bout 8 or 9) came home once after spending the night somewhere & were all like, Mom, they put sugar on cereal..Guess it worked out good for them, all three are grown now and none of them have ever had a cavity..:~)

motherjanegoose

March 16th, 2011
4:55 pm

@ Becky…I never had a cavity until I was an adult, had a child of my own and on my own dime. What was that all about?

Denise

March 16th, 2011
6:34 pm

I just laugh at my friends. I love them but sometimes the things they do and worry about make me shake my head. Sneaking shrimp but having to buy a vegan cake makes me shake my head. I have to ask what is in the food when I go over there because she tricked me one day. She told me it something was sweet potatoes and it was…with white potatoes, turnips and rutabaga (sp?) blended in it. I spit it out. Not quite ladylike but that mess was nasty! Don’t do that to your guests ladies and gentelmen! LOLLLLLL

Back on the real topic – how do you balance making the adults who live with you contribute to the house and save money to get out? Do you make their contribution non-financial (housework, yardwork, etc.)? Do you give them a time frame for moving out? Fake vegetarian friend was a squatter at my house. Would call her a roommate if she ever paid me rent and on the bills as we’d agreed. I had to put her out because I couldn’t take watching her go to Sevananda and Whole Foods while I’m buying stuff at Publix on sale. And watching her party and go out to eat plucked my nerves too. The coup de gras was hearing her talking about purchasing property when she owed me $5K. I went from “helping” to “supporting” to “kicking out”.

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 16th, 2011
8:20 pm

“Spaghetti gets’em every time”

How? Dried boxed spaghetti is semolina flour and water….you only have to worry about eggs if it is fresh or one of the more intense pastas like cannelloni or shells for stuffing with meat or cheese because then they use eggs in the pasta “dough”.. I eat dried pasta all the time with vegetables and tomato sauce.

redhousecat

March 16th, 2011
9:57 pm

My mom and stepdad helped me out in my 20’s if they thought I needed it. These days, I am married and debt free. We currently help out my parents with a few finances as well as some things for his parents. It’s the least we can do; after all, they did raise us right!

Becky

March 17th, 2011
8:43 am

@MJG..It was in response to Denise saying that her friends used to SNEAK around and eat meat and seafood behind their kids backs, so that reminded me of what my sister & BIL did about sugar when their kids were younger..

Mrs. G

March 17th, 2011
10:10 am

I like this topic…it’s pretty relevant these days. When I was in college (I graduated six years ago), I had a full-time schedule of classes and I worked part-time, so my parents were happy to help me out financially (with things like gasoline and car maintenance and insurance). I had a handful of friends whose parents paid for them to have their own apartments while in college (and for everything else – they didn’t work), but my parents said no apartment until I could pay for it myself (I was so excited to get my first apartment when I got my first “real” job; I think the fact that I didn’t have my “own place” (other than a dorm room) until I was 22 made me appreciate it that much more). My parents were also happy to help out if I needed it after college (they made that clear), but, now that I’m married, my husband and I are essentially on our own, which is how it should be. I can’t imagine having my (or his) parents supplementing our incomes; I would feel guilty!

Kat

March 17th, 2011
5:36 pm

@JJ: I was “with” you and the rules you set out from your daughter, until you brought up the fact that YOUR mom helps YOU out – and your daughter as well.

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Ole Guy

March 21st, 2011
4:34 pm

Let’s keep one thing in focus. The current economic malaise which seems to hinder recent grads’ employment search is nothing new. The real problem is this gens’ unwillingness to “throttle-back” on their expectations. When I graduated from my first degree program, the average age of the typical graduate’s car was 10-plus years. Even former military officers, accustomed to the lifestyles afforded to O-3s/O4s, learned to downsize. Fortunately, however, then as now, preparation/credentials made all the difference. As a former aviator, RIFed, along with thousands of other officers in a down-sizing military of the mid-70s, I had to accept some pretty sorry employment for what seemed an eternity. Seven months after graduation, however, I stumbled into my first “real job”, and the beginning of my first career.

It’s not easy, grads…don’t expect it to be. The first thing you should get used to is the fact that you just may have to lower your expectations for the unforseeable future. Many many generations have been faced with the same situations you now face. Yours’ is no different.