As you watch your children grow up and have families of their own, sometimes there are challenges and struggles for all of you. You may wonder if you should help. When is it appropriate to step in and “bail them out”? When should you let consequences be consequences? And how can you help your adult children be more independent? There are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions. Each family has its own dynamics and issues, so as you look over these suggestions and ideas, remember that these are a starting point to get you thinking and to help you make your own decision.
So here are some thoughts on helping adult children.
1. Be Responsive
Experts who deal with parents trying to make a decision on whether or not to help their adult children generally agree that you need to be responsive. However, that response does not have to be the financial or other help your adult kids are asking for. The point is to listen, and to express genuine concern and consideration of their quandary. Your final decision will likely be more respected by your kids if you have shown you really do understand the situation and are concerned for their welfare.
2. Lead Them to Other Help
Sometimes, helping your kids means directing them to other resources. Perhaps your married adult kids need a marriage counselor, or perhaps they could apply for some sort of financial assistance besides you. There’s nothing wrong with directing them to other resources. You don’t have to be the only one who can help.
3. Saying No
There’s no doubt that it can be very hard to say no. Your adult children may be very angry with you, and so might other members of your family. They may try to make you feel guilty. But if you are sure that “no” is the right answer, then stick to it.
4. Saying Yes
Only you know your unique family situation, so if you agree to give your kids help, there’s no need to feel guilty. However, experts suggest placing limitations and/or conditions on the help you offer. For instance:
-Your son wants to move to another state to start a career, and wants financial assistance to get an apartment. You could tell him that you’ll pay the deposit and the first month’s rent (or however long you’re comfortable and able to), but after that he’s on his own.
Set limitations and boundaries with your help, so you don’t feel taken advantage of and your kids still learn some problem-solving.