Parenting is a never-ending job.
From newborns to adult children, your kids will always need you in some capacity, but there is a such thing as helping them too much.
Starting at birth until roughly 18 years old, children need their parents to guide then through life. They learn to feed themselves, use the bathroom, get dressed, clean up after themselves (no, really, they can do this!), learn to cook and hopefully how to earn, save and balance money.
But then it comes... the time to let go. Yes, they may seem too young-even though you did the same things on your own at that age-but they are capable of standing on their own two feet.
It's not that you should avoid parenting your adult children, but giving them too much can actually harm their future (and yours) more than help, according to a recent study.
So where's the line of helping vs. harming? These three guidelines can help you out.
Adult children still need guidance while navigating unknown territory, such as purchasing their first home, caring for their first child or learning to live within their financial means. Giving practical advice that ultimately helps your child become more independent and self-reliant is crucial. These are things he or she needs to know to further their future in a positive manner.
Even into adulthood, kids are still learning to balance the emotional load of life-heartbreak, work stress, anxiety, becoming overwhelmed and learning to find a balance can be difficult. Parents can offer support, mostly in the form of a listening ear. Make sure they want advice rather than just giving it to them. Sometimes, they may just need to vent or need a sounding board to talk it through and figure it out on their own. A listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love can do wonders.
This is where things get sticky. How much is too much? Are you helping or hindering their future? Is it going to harm your financial future if you dip into your own retirement to help? How much and when to help may vary kid to kid. Some children may borrow money for an emergency, while others may be taking advantage of you and using money for non-essentials like entertainment (TVs, manicures, ATVs, eating out, etc). If your child is mooching off you, you need to put a stop to it. Your child will never learn to take care of themselves and budget responsibly if you enable them to live within their means combined with yours!
It's best to not get into a situation where you are supporting your child at a more expensive rate than if they lived at home (i.e. paying for their rent, car payments, bills and food).
Encourage them to get a job that will pay them enough to live the lifestyle they want and to live within their means. If they need to borrow money, write up an agreement with a payback schedule-maybe even one that includes interest. This will help teach them to make responsible financial decisions rather than waiting for you to come rescue them with your perpetual "money tree."
Though parenting never really ends, your goal is to raise adult children who can take care of themselves, independent of you and your pocketbook. Offering practical and emotional support may be necessary for awhile, but beware of over-giving financially. There is a difference between helping and being taken advantage of by mooching adults.