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Should I Offer Financial Support to my Adult Child?

Should I Offer Financial Support to my Adult Child?

Q: My adult child is going through some financial struggles. I’d love to help them out, but I’m wondering if this is a wise choice for their long-term future. Should I offer financial help to my adult child?


A: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The answer will depend on many factors and your relationship with him or her. Before saying yes to an adult child’s request for financial help, ask yourself these questions:


Is my own financial situation stable right now?


If you’re comfortable enough to offer support without feeling pinched, dipping into savings or scrimping on money you’d put toward your own future security, you can afford to help. However, if you stand to lose your own financial wellness while covering your child’s bills, you won’t be doing anyone a favor by supporting your child.


Is my child’s situation by default temporary?


Your adult kid might be in a tight spot that is just temporary. For example, they may be completing a necessary, but unpaid internship or having expensive and/or underinsured medical treatment. Under these circumstances, you may want to consider offering some support until the temporary tight spot is over.


If, however, your child is asking for financial support because they’re spending beyond their means, you may want to think twice before agreeing to help with money.


Will offering financial support hinder my child’s financial independence?


If your child has not yet learned to responsibly manage their finances, offering financial assistance is likely not in their best interest. You won’t be around forever to bail them out, so it’s best if your child learns to make smart money choices now.

How will my financial support affect my relationship with this child?


Many people believe that offering a child monetary support will improve their relationship with him or her. However, this is not always the case. First, the child may come to equate your relationship as transactional. Also, when you decide (or are forced) to stop offering support, this can create tension between you and your child. Finally, if your money will be accompanied by resentment, it’s not fair to yourself, or to your child, to offer financial help.


How will I structure my financial support?


Will you offer a set monthly amount, or use a give-as-needed approach? Will you expect your child to pay you back, even partially, when their situation improves? Do you have a planned date for when you will stop offering assistance or to reevaluate whether your child still needs this support?


Setting up clear parameters before offering support can help you avoid hurt feelings and uncomfortable situations later. 


Be sure to ask yourself the above questions before offering monetary assistance to a grown child. 

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