Help Your Adult Children Without Enabling ThemApr 23, 2020
Being a parent doesn't stop just because our kids reach a certain age. Many of us find that our love for our children is wrapped up in our desire to protect our kids and make sure their basic needs are taken care of, and that can go on well past any given age for a lot of parents. Helping our kids feels really good in the right situation, and sometimes we're the only place they can turn to when they're trying to make positive change in their lives. But we're also the place they're most likely to turn when the going gets tough, and sometimes struggling is necessary for our development.
When do you think it's a good idea to support your adult child directly? Not just moral support or love, but financially?
Every parent-child situation is different, but let's say that all parties agree that you've found a fair way to provide support for your adult child and that you have the means to be able to help them while they work toward a goal.
When you help your adult children, you're a resource. All resources can be depleted, and it's important that your kids understand that. While earned success is the best and most rewarding way to demonstrate the effectiveness of one's efforts, living up to an agreed upon standard of accountability is the right way to conduct this kind of support.
You're saying: I believe in your future enough to invest in it with my hard-earned money. You have my faith in your ability and desire to accomplish your goals, and I have a strong wish for you to have a wonderful life.
Making this situation work is about connecting the resource that you're providing them with to a commitment to making progress in their goal. Failure to progress needs to have appropriate consequences attached to it. If your son or daughter lacks seriousness about accomplishing his or her goal, or gets lazy, or loses interest, you have to be ready to pull your financial support. Something to keep in mind though, is that not all failures are equal.
There's a saying in business -- Fail fast, fail often. The lesson here is that we can learn our best lessons from our failures, and that we can utilize that knowledge to improve our future attempts to achieve our goals. Failure doesn't mean that progress has stopped, it means we're about to learn something hard. What we do with that knowledge defines our character.