Many parents of adult children – and those who have opinions about them – are convinced that, by helping out your kids financially, you are somehow damaging them in myriad ways. From killing their motivation to succeed (it’s too easy to depend on Mom and Dad) to turning them into spoiled brats (living in the basement and eating your food), it seems that the general consensus is “If I could survive on beans while sleeping in a sleeping bag on a floor when I first started out, so can these millennials.” That may be true – but is it necessary?
My children are both out of college and working, and we still help them out – though not a lot – financially. There is nothing lazy or unmotivated about either of them. We are not supporting them – we don’t pay their rent, or pay for their groceries, or give them a monthly allowance – but we do help them out here and there.
The fact is, many parents are helping their adult children, and not just the 20-somethings who are getting started in life.
From Money Magazine – “How to Avoid Paying for Your Kids Forever”:
A 2013 Pew Research Center report shows [even more] startling figures: Among adults ages 40 to 59 with at least one grown child, 73% said they’d helped support an adult son or daughter in the prior year. Half of those middle-aged parents said they were their grown child’s primary means of support—in some cases because their offspring were still in school but also, more than a third said, for reasons other than education. In another study, Pew found that nearly a quarter of 25- to 34-year-olds are now living with parents or grandparents, up from 11% in 1980. “It’s not at the margins,” says Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a consultant on the aging population. “It’s kind of everybody.”
From Smartaboutmoney.org, among parents helping their adult children financially:
- 50 percent are providing a place to live
- 48 percent are helping with living expenses
- 41 percent are helping with transportation
- 35 percent are helping with health insurance
- 29 percent are providing spending money
- 28 percent are helping with medical expenses
- 19 percent are providing emergency money
- 16 percent are assisting with loan repayment
- 10 percent are helping pay down credit card debt
Our reasons for helping our adult kids include these:
- They work hard at their jobs and love what they do. Our son has recently relocated back to our city, which we are thrilled about, and he’s working hard at his new job. Our daughter found her dream job right out of college and 4 years later is still working at the same company and has been promoted. She works an average of 50-60 hours a week. They are both the antithesis of the myth of the millennial slacker.
- Our daughter lives in Los Angeles. Our son does too. There are very few places in the world more expensive than LA, and for our daughter’s career, this is the best place to be. She doesn’t need our help anymore, but we sometimes can’t resist. Our son is adjusting to much higher rent and general living expenses, but we’re so glad to have him nearby again that we don’t mind giving him a little help.
- It’s cheaper to keep them on our cell phone plan than for them to get their own. The extra $100 a month we pay for both of their phones isn’t going to break us, and it’s a pain to switch plans. At least, I think it is.
- I enjoy shopping for clothes with my daughter. When she was born 25 years ago I started buying her clothes and I haven’t stopped since. Am I indulging her? A little. But it makes me happy.
- They aren’t whiners. Sometimes it’s tough on them to live on the money they earn – just like it is for most people. Big expenses – car repairs, taxes, etc. – are up to them. When they come to us for help it’s usually for a good reason. If it’s not, we say no.
- Family time is invaluable. We enjoy being with our kids as much now – if not more – as when they were children. By treating our children, we are treating ourselves to time with them.
- They don’t live at home with us. And that is the biggest reason of all for us to slip them a few bucks here and there. We enjoy being empty nesters, almost as much as we enjoy our kids. And we want to keep enjoying our kids, who are now adults. Having them at home would not work for any of us, and we all know it.
A version of this post appeared previously on Purple Clover.