For many people, adulthood is a time to find your own path and walk alone, but some parents and children have difficulty breaking the financial ties that bind and the financial dependence continues well into traditional adulthood. This is a dangerous path, fraught with many challenges for both the parent and the child, some of which aren’t obvious at first glance. If you are a parent with a dependent adult child, or an adult child who relies on financial support from your parents to get by, keep the following in mind:
It makes saving for retirement and long term care difficult for the parents. If a parent is still spending a significant amount of money each month financially supporting an adult child, that’s money that is not going towards retirement investment, which means that the parents will be required to remain in the workforce longer and have a greater likelihood of becoming a financial burden upon their children late in life.
It reduces the parents’ standard of living. At a time when parents should be enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of work both in the workplace and in raising a family, they are still saddled with a serious financial commitment which reduces their security and their quality of life in the present.
It creates a sense of entitlement in the relationship. As time goes on, financial support moves from being appreciated to being expected. Children begin to treat financial support as part of their salary and begin to live a lifestyle beyond their means. They begin to feel entitled to this support. It is a natural occurrence; any repeating event soon becomes an expected one in a person’s life, like watching 24 on Monday evenings.
The longer the relationship continues, the more emotionally devastating ending the tie becomes. As the financial connection becomes entrenched, it becomes more difficult for both parent and child to cut that tie. The parent is often consumed with unnecessary guilt when the thought occurs and also is afraid of negative ramifications from cutting the tie, while the child is ever more reliant on that financial support to sustain their lifestyle.
The key to severing such ties is to do it as early as possible. When a child is able to walk alone, that child should walk alone. It allows for a healthy relationship between parents and children that isn’t tied to a financial situation, reduces the impact of emotional damage, and allows the parents the financial freedom to plan for their future.