I always told my kids I would help them as best I could – but I never thought they would come back to live with me. I am 74 and I like living on my own and I don’t think I can afford to keep them here. Please help.
(PS: they also have two big dogs and I have a 12-year-old cat – ouch!). Margaret
I feel for you Margaret – you need to set some ground rules – NOW !!
Today there are many parents like Margaret. While helping our children is something we expect to do as parents, at least until they are financially independent, it is important to realize the long-term cost this can have on our own future. Many parents are still financially supporting their adult children or have them still living at home with no costs, free rent, and the fridge full.
Unfortunately, today’s middle-aged parents have done this to themselves. Parents of millennials are still not able to stop the “helicopter parent syndrome” even for their adult children. Canadian parents are struggling to save and stay on track to becoming financially comfortable, but then are side-tracked with worry about their adult children. Many believe their adult children are not going to attain the same level of comfort just on their own resources and will need continuous assistance. Please, really?
Obviously, the demands now on parents are dramatically different than they were in the 60’s and 70s. Our parents would never have dreamed of doing what todays parents do for their children. Many now, are willing to sacrifice all; to financially support their adult children in what is believed to be an economic environment where young adults face higher unemployment rates, high housing costs and large student debt. Millennials today are now the smartest and most technically advanced generation of all time, yet feel they have more uncertainty, more stress and have more anxiety and depression than their parents ever did. This may indeed be true and could account for some of the reasons why so many older parents are now having to put their retirement plans on hold.
We all feel the same way as Margaret; we want nothing but the best for our children. We have all worked hard all our lives and have always wanted our children to have a better life than we did. You want them to have the necessary skills to be successful adults, have a solid education, and be whatever they want to be. But, there is a fine line between giving enough and giving too much especially when they are no longer children. Most parents are not able to say “NO” and sometimes they should. It is necessary to teach the lesson that we don’t always get what we want.
Did you get everything you wanted out of your life?
At some point you will need to tighten up the spending and this should not be at the end when your day-to-day finances becomes unsustainable. Adult children must realize that they can no longer rely on the financial support of their parents due to the inevitable limited resources and amount of time left for parents in their working years. Sometimes whether it is forced, planned or necessary, young adults need to experience things that allow them to handle challenges. This will help them build life skills and become more resilient in ways that financial support alone cannot provide.
Margaret – you will need to have a frank discussion about financial circumstances on both sides (and add in some pet boundaries).
To your daughter, she may believe that you should support her financially forever, and that you as her parent, are well set for the future. Remind her of your goals and get her to create some of her own goals. Create realistic timelines, budgets and let them know you want them to get a good foothold on life – but that doesn’t mean subsidizing their current adult lifestyle. As parents, we need to be independent and retire with dignity, and that means we need money. Do not give what you cannot afford to be without later, when you retire. Remember, love is NOT something you buy.
All our readers sympathize with you and wish you luck Margaret!