Closing The Bank Of Mom and Dad

As the cost of living soars, more young adults are turning to their parents for financial help. Sometimes the best help of all is saying no. I recently read an article entitled “Keeping Your Kids Afloat” in the AARP magazine. After reading the article, and visiting the message board associated with the article, and reading many comments from parents and grandparents alike, it is mind-boggling to me.

Excerpts from the article:

Six months after Sue and Jim Pearson of Washington, Indiana, were married, Sue’s daughter, Kimberly, 22, called and said, “I have nowhere else to go. I’m coming home.” Kimberly had been living with her fiance’ and his parents. Then the engagement ended, and her daycare-center job didn’t pay enough to support her.

When Russ Phillips was 19, “he heard there were jobs in Utah, so he just took off,” says his mother, April Phillips, of Reston, Virginia. Armed with a high-school-equivalency diploma, Russ found a series of menial jobs-waiting tables, sorting cans, working as a ranch hand. Sometimes he had to ask his mother to help out with money for food, rent, or a car payment. “I never sent him enough to come home, only enough to solve the problem,” says April, an elementary-school teacher.

Families like the Pearsons and the Phillipses are popping up everywhere these days as young adults confront higher hurdles on the path to independence. Since 1970 the number of adults ages 25 to 34 living in a parent’s home has ballooned by more than 50 percent, to 39 million-and parents, on average, are spending an inflation-adjusted 13 percent more on their grown offspring, reports a University of Michigan study based on Census Bureau data. For many parents the financial strain of this longer haul means postponing retirement, raiding savings, or taking on debt in an effort to help their kids. For all, it means added worry.

“This is a cultural sea change.” says Linda Perlman Gordon, a psychotherapist and coauthor (with Susan Morris Shaffer) of “Mom, Can I Move Back In With You?”, of the phenomenon of parental involvement in grown children’s lives. She and Shaffer use the term adultescence to describe the prolonged period today’s young people spend as no-longer-adolescents and no-quite-adults.

Economic pressures have certainly contributed to greater dependence on the parental pocketbook and homestead. Entry-level salaries have not kept pace with inflation. A booming housing market has made setting up a household beyond the reach of many young adults. And education costs are spiraling upward, saddling the average college graduate with $18,900 in student loans, a 66 percent gain since 1997, according to a study published by loan provider Nellie Mae Corporation.

Some observers think there’s more at play then sheer numbers, however. Grown kids are more dependent on their parents’ money because they have been raised with a sense of entitlement, they say. “Baby-boomer parents tend to be freer with their money than were their own parents, who grew up in the Depression,” points out Jane Adams, author of “When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us”.

“I see young adults struggle with this notion of stepping backward.” says Nathan Dungan, president of Share-Save-Spend, an organization that teaches financial responsibility to families. “They are the first generation that’s been marketed to since they were little children. They’re used to their own rooms and bathrooms. They’re used to eating certain foods and driving in certain cars.”

And they may not know what they’re getting into when a bank offers them a credit card at age 18. Little wonder card balances average $5,000 for 25- to 34-year olds today. For parents, the upshot can be both painful and expensive, as Melissa and Chris Skelton of Las Vegas learned. The Skeltons have always paid their bills on time, so imagine their surprise recently when an application for a zero percent loan on a new Suzuki came back with a counteroffer–a whopping 12 percent interest rate. The reason? Their daughter, Tiffany, 25, had been late with payments four times on her car loan, which Dad had cosigned.

“I love my daughter–she’s awesome, she really is,” Melissa emphasizes. “But this has really hurt us.” Raising Adult Children Not Moochers.

Further Reading:
A Sense of Entitlement
How to Stop Enabling: When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us
Support Groups for Parents with Grown Adult Children Living at Home with Parents

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors.

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109 Responses to “Closing The Bank Of Mom and Dad”

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  1. Betty says:

    Hi Lin, Suzanne, and Kym.
    Happy 4th! Suzanne, you and your daughter are really on track! I’m so happy for both of you.

  2. Betty says:

    Sorry, Kym. My trigger finger was too fast so I didn’t say what I wanted to say to you. Just wanted to tell you that you are in our prayers and hope that everything works out for you. It’s rough, but you had to do something to help yourself. We all try to work through our problems and stick it out in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere, but sometimes we just can’t do anymore.

    Life is difficult enough without having to deal with someone’s selfishness and meaness! I wish men could be forced to see themselves as their mates see them. I guess that would work for women, too. People who think they know everything and are mean are a pain! They sure are controlling and must have the self-confidence of a flea to treat others the way they do. It’s THEIR problem! Their families just get in their way when they are steamrolling through life and destroying all of their relationships along the way! Too bad. They’re missing so much good that they could share with their families. I just wish they wouldn’t leave so much destruction in their paths! I guess we just have to do what is necessary for us to survive. Good luck to you!

  3. tiredmom says:

    I sure hope that Lin and Suzanne still check in here from time to time. I have a situation that is SO similar to Suzannes and wanted to touch on it tonight and maybe get some support from her, Lin, and the rest of you. I have a 25 year old daughter who is living in a rental home of ours. She was NOT ever supposed to allow her boyfriend to move in and she did. He will not work, sleeps all the time and seems to have zero motivation in anything in life except to sleep and eat. We are going to him know that soon he must move out. She did not have the respect for us in the first place to not let him move in. I have noticed a real change in our daughter over the past few years and I suspect drugs may be involved. I would like to hear from any and all of you. It also seems that I only hear from her she needs something. I call her, text her, and get no replies until days later. This really hurts me. Give me some direction but I tell you this, her boyfriend is on his way out. I know that with her hot temper, we may pay for it by her never seeing us again but then again we don’t see much of her the way things are….

    • Lin says:

      Tiredmom, your situation with your daughter is extremely common, unfortunately. Since you’re only asking about the problem of your daughter allowing her boyfriend to move into the home without your permission and consent (versus typical problems of grown kids not paying their bills, rent etc), I hope getting him out of there will be relatively easy for you. But I doubt it. If you can manage to get him out with just putting your foot down and firmly telling him he’s got to go, then more power to ya. How it all plays out, how well it goes or not, will likely have a lot to do with your daughter’s reaction and what she says to him about it. It may become a situation where you’ll have to at least consult with a local attorney about legal eviction, if necessary. Since I’m not an attorney, I certainly can’t advise you on legalities of kicking him out, if there is or isn’t a signed lease/agreement where your daughter admits/agrees that she’s not allowed to move anyone in etc. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a hot tempered fallout from your daughter, but as you say, she knew the rules ahead of time. Hang in there and let us know how it goes.

  4. tiredmom says:

    Lin, thanks so much. Well, i found out more. Now she is saying she cannot live without him and will be leaving too. I am just sick and cannot get over how my daughter can practically turn her back on her dad and I without a second thought. More later

    • Betty says:

      Where’s everyone go? My situation is eerily similar to tired mom’s. I’m wondering what happened?

  5. KT says:

    Great website…thank you. Read most of the posts because I’m dealing w/my 28 year old son who is on his own but contiinually needs financial help….he is at the point he verbally abuses me w/emotional guilt from the past about my mistakes, being a bad mom, etc. I’m disabled and can’t help anymore other than prayer. He says he now has health problems w/blood pressure and I certainly don’t doubt it, but I’m not giving in…he may loose his car, apt. and end up homeless but I’m not giving in. Unfortunately, his life may change for the worse but I’m done and emotionally and physically worn out.