a young adult kissing her senior mother on the cheek

Is Supporting Your Adult Children Financially Holding You Back?

When to Stop Financially Supporting Your Child

Times can be tough. It’s harder than ever for young adults to strike out and find successful careers.

At least, this is what we hear American parents saying when their grown, adult children are still living at home and enjoying the privileges of pampered teenagers — a car allowance, insurance, rent and utilities, cellphone and a personal allowance.

But is it really that hard for young adults to make it on their own? When is it time to pull the plug?

The question isn't should we or shouldn't we ever
support our kids
— it’s how to recognize when enough is enough. Or when perhaps our support is actually crippling them, or eroding our ability to help them substantially in the future.

Are You Sacrificing Your Own Security?

Are your grown kids having a difficult time because, "It’s a recession?" Well guess what — if it’s a recession for them, it’s a recession for you, too! In fact, if you’re a Baby Boomer, you’ve lived through ten recessions. That means you’ve had a much harder time of it than your kids have ever experienced.

It’s important to protect your own bottom line. Sacrificing your savings now may mean you’ll become a financial burden to them later, and if they never learn to achieve stability on their own, your fragility and reduced circumstances later on will leave you all in a financial pickle.

Your kids should understand that by keeping your wallet closed, you’re protecting them from a future where they may have to support elderly parents with health issues.

Are You Enforcing Negative Habits?

It’s one thing to support a college education, because let’s face it, college loans are just not the way to go anymore. And many parents will support an entrepreneurial enterprise, or help with daycare and expenses when kids are starting out in a new career.

But the litmus test for this question is to evaluate if there is weekly progress. Is your child going to work or school every day and bringing home a paycheck? If they’re living at home, are they contributing physically and financially to the household?

If your child is doing nothing all day but sitting around texting and playing computer games, it’s time to pull the plug. Maybe even yank the plug. And don’t be afraid to become the "Show Me" state if your child claims to be lining up interviews or doing homework. If pay-per-view and pay-to-play works in the gaming world, it can work in the real life world too.
Take a good hard look at yourself, as well. If you’re giving your grown child money for support, and yet you’re also filling their gas tanks, washing their clothes and making their meals, it’s definitely time to review the situation.

Are You Creating Lifestyle Expectations?

We all want to see our kids get the best that we can give them. But are you creating lifestyle expectations that your adult child does not have the skills to support themselves on their own? If something happens to you, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they can blow through a trust fund if they have no other source of income.

And let’s be honest, lazy people attract toxic influences into their lives. If your kids have a hot car, latest tech gadgets, unlimited free time and a generous allowance, they’re going to attract other people who want all those things too — from your son or daughter. Adults in the same age group who are working and going school are going to gravitate to people who share their interests and concerns.

When to Stop Financially Supporting Your Child: How to Taper Support

Mike Duffy, a parent in Sebastopol, California, says, "If a parent wants to stop supporting their kids, then communicate a schedule and limits. If it’s been regular support, then taper off. Set a limit on the amount of money you’ll extend for bailouts. Don't set kids up to fail, but do set limits and change expectations."

Kimberly Tippit, a parent from Alta, California, says, "I put a lot of thought into this with my two girls. I encouraged them to get jobs while in high school, and help pay for some of their things, like gas.

"So far this has flowed into college for my oldest and the help I provide her is very limited as she has learned to budget her summer earnings to spread out through the school year.

The younger one watches this and is taking good notes on how to be and what is expected. I still hope to be able to provide them with an automobile at the end of college, but other than that I do not give money away.

"I think it is good for them to struggle a little and learn from their mistakes while having a bit of protection to fall on if they really need it."

No matter what, it is important to recognize the warning signs that your child is taking advantage of your financial support and when to stop financially supporting your child.