When your adult children are asking for too much

There has been a growing trend over recent years of adult children moving back in with their parents for anything from

There has been a growing trend over recent years of adult children moving back in with their parents for anything from a few months to a few years.

These ‘boomerang’ children move out of home in their late-teens or twenties, but return to the nest after failing to make it on their own.

There has also been a rise in grownup children asking their parents for financial help and support as they struggle to make ends meet on their own.

Many of these children have families of their own now and are failing to keep up with the costs and time needed to raise their own kids.

The answer to these problems are clear for many kids: ask mum and dad.

Not only are parents called on to lend financial aid and support, they are asked to devote their time and energy to help get their child’s family through the day-to-day activities.

Millions of grandparents across Australia, and the world, act as part-time carers for their grandchildren. They pick them up from school, babysit them on the weekend, help them with homework and entertain them for hours of end.

While many parents are happy to help out their children, the pressure can become too much for some.

Jacquelyn McClellan, 74, was already retired when her son came to her for help. He and his wife were struggling to keep up with the costs of paying off a mortgage and affording all the kids’ activities.

She decided to help and ended up using her pension to pay for dancing lessons, family holidays and school fees, all of which eventually led her to bankruptcy in 2011.

Now, Jacquelyn can’t afford holidays of her own and has little savings left in her account.

She did all this though because she felt like she had a duty to help her grandchildren and son.

“I didn’t want them to have a bad life,” she said.

While Jacquelyn’s case is extreme, it’s a concept many parents are dealing with; adult children who ask too much of their parents.

After years of hard work and raising a family, you’d like to think you’d be able to sit back and enjoy your retirement and the money you saved so carefully to get there.

Unfortunately, many parents find they are instead worn out from all the extra duties and pressure they are placed under as they help their children navigate their way through financial struggles and family matters.

We can’t place all the blame on our kids though. The cost of living and unaffordable housing market has placed unprecedented pressure on today’s young adults.

They are facing financial barriers many of us were lucky enough to avoid in our youth.

While we didn’t exactly have an easy run of it either, the average price of a house when baby boomers where first looking to buy was four times their annual salary.

Now our kids are faced with property prices that are 12 times the cost of their annual salary, making it near-impossible to get ahead.

For many parents though, it comes down to this: despite the financial challenges their kids are facing, they want to be able to enjoy their retirement without the burden of having to drain their bank accounts and their energy helping their children out all the time.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Do you ever feel like your children ask too much of you? Have you had to help your adult children with money, or sacrifice your time to help them out?

  1. Gail Rogers  

    We have two children, we have helped both the big difference is that while one seems to expect it the other will do everything not to alert us to her needing help. We also babysit our great granddaughter while our daughter works, she has full custody. Makes me wonder how two people raised exactly the same can be so different. I can get very upset with our son as he never seems appreciative when we have bailed him out of financial trouble. He is about to learn though because the Parents Help Dept is now closed unless it’s a life or death situation.

  2. Liz Tant  

    Have always helped and will always help when needed. Can’t take money to the grave.Our children need help when they are are raising families.By the time we are dead they dont need help they are established financially.

  3. Tough love applies all the way though life with Adult children.there to help when needed. With small loans,But they do have to sort out there own spending in the end.I worked for a Lady, with a Daughter and Son law with an 8 year old child, living in her house full time .. She the lady gave up her funeral plan , cash it in for them…

  4. I am fortunate my two have been able to stand on their own and not even hinted they needed financial support. My son moved to WA in his early twenties and worked hard to save for a deposit on his house,, has done lots of improvements and now also owns his own business. That has been 25 years all told, as you say would be so easy today but he made sacrifices in order to achieve his goal so it can be done.

  5. Parents who help their grown up children financially are not doing the children or themselves any favours. I was one of five who were brought up to be independent and responsible for our own behaviour and I would never have gone begging to my parents.

  6. I’ve never understood why people think they have to provide for their adult children infinitum.I was bought up to be independent from the day I started work.So was my wife.Reap what you sow.

  7. Some do’s and dont’s
    Am not a perfect parent by any means. I have learned from my mistakes and from observing others. , I have overstepped boundaries, I have done the wrong thing even though my intentions were good.
    I have felt insulted by well meaning parents and in laws when I was a young newly we’d and new parent. It is overwhelming to have the “expert advice” given and then be expected to follow it.
    Don’t start something that you don’t intend to continue. My children are very independant. I raised them to be.
    There have been times when I have offered, and when I have offered financial help it is a gift. There are also no strings attached. Be respectful if you notice they may need some help ask them if they will accept a gift of help.
    Let it go, do not use it as leverage to manipulate them into providing you with something layer on. Don’t discuss these situations with your other children either, that is gossip!

    All too often the relationships break down because the parents who help out have expectations. Don’t do that to your kids. If they ask and you are not in a position to help, then say so. Don’t guilt your adult children about what you do for them, that is nasty.

    Mind your own business. Love your I laws. They love your child as much as you do, respect them. I love my in laws, and have positive relationships with their families.

    Stop parenting your adult children, they are capable of taking care of their own business. Don’t pry. If you have done a good job of raising them, they will be self actuaries do adults who don’t “need” you to continuing parenting them. Understand how difficult it is for them if they do ever need to ask for your help. Do not offer your advice. If they do ask your opinion, depending what it is about be honest about the information you share and don’t get all snotty if they do not act on your “advice” observe other families, you will be able to see what works for them and what does not!
    Do not overstep boundaries, let them parent their children how they want to. Each generation comes with new methods of child rearing.

    Do not create a situation where you believe that your children just could not manage without you…..they can if you let them.

    Don’t be the unpaid babysitter who then uses grandchildren as an excuse to not go and live your own life in your retirement, and become resentful because you created the situation you are in.

    Do not interfere unless you really need to because of neglect or safety or illness issues.

  8. Faye Dapiran  

    I have the grown up children, but i bought them all up properly – obviously. I have helped out in small ways financially, but they would not ask or expect me to do anything else. I baby sit as I want to, and my daughters are very mindful of this, and do not use me. How sad for the woman in the article, that all her money is gone now. I would ope her children are now helping her out – surely.

  9. Robyn Rylands  

    Our 3 children have never asked for financial assistance mainly because they know they wouldn’t get it. I don’t think we do them any favours by bailing them out. I know a woman who for years paid private school fees for her grandson. Her daughter no longer speaks to her and access to the grandchild is forbidden. I think that ‘children’ in their 30s and 40s running home to live with mummy and daddy every time things don’t turn out to be to their liking is taking advantage in a major way.

  10. One of the principal aims of bringing up children is to make them able to cope with the world. That includes time and money management. It is therefore very dissapointing when they cant manage repeatedly and you can see that they are time and money wasters. It makes a parent feel like a failure. By the way housing costs per household income have not changed. The big change is that most households have two or more incomes and income tax is not at the 65% marginal rate any more, so its really a shortage of time and the ease of credit thats new.

    • I agree Neil. I think a lot of the problem is expectations – and parents/grandparents who want their offspring to have easier lives than they did. Many young people seem to expect to get the big house, big furniture, big car(s), holidays, entertainment, restaurants, electronic goods right from the start.

      I remember collecting bottles, working extra jobs, paying cash, saving, and going without. I had a tiny first house, sat on packing cases and had second-hand cars, furniture, clothing for years. Interest rates on mortgages were up to 18%. I would never have asked my parents to help make life easier or pay for extras. As far as I was concerned, they had fed, clothed, and educated me – and now (as I was not disabled) it was my turn to stand on my own two feet. Eventually, I got a bigger house and a better (second hand) car. I did this all as a single person – before I got married in my 40’s. I had no help from anyone. Now, I never borrow money and have a debit card – not a credit card. My parents taught me the value of hard work and “make do”.

      • By-the-way, I am not saying all young people are going overboard with their expectations. I do know young people who are working hard to get educated and who have a plan to improve themselves and their situation. Where older people can help is by introducing them to work opportunities and people who can help head them in the right direction.

        It is the degree of help expected, demanded, or received which is the problem. Neither party should feel obligated, taken for granted, or “put upon”.

  11. barcoo  

    I’m getting a bit tired of the bragging by parents who say they’ve “never” had to help their children and never will. Well, good for you and aren’t you lucky? Spare a thought for very well-meaning good children who through no fault of their own do not work in a high-paying job and really, really struggle week after week. I’m not going into detail but there are people who have trouble even getting a job because of a disability. When they get a job it’s a basic wage, and then a huge proportion of it goes on rent. They can never save enough for a deposit on a house, even though a mortgage would probably be cheaper than their rent. There’s never anything left over and they have no life apart from work and home. I have to help a lot financially and I really don’t see an answer to the problem.

  12. Cristin  

    Just say no.

    It’s your home. It’s your future that you’ve sacrificed and saved for. You put in your time as parents and, while you love your children and grandchildren, you’re doing more harm than good by helping your adult children avoid the consequences of poor choices. If, for some reason your children fall on hard times and the situation is out of their control, insist on a written contract with an end date, and demand accountability. Do not give your adult children money unless you intend to bankrupt yourself and wind up homeless. Never, ever agree to be a full-time or part-time babysitter and do not agree to be day care. Your time spent with grandchildren should be according to YOUR choice. Establish early on that the house is yours — not theirs — and that you have INVITED them to visit temporarily. Reinforce that this is your home, that you expect certain conditions be met. Above all, don’t apologize to your adult children and don’t ask them for permission to live in YOUR HOME in accordance with YOUR lifestyle. Insist that your guests respect your property and your feelings. If they have a lifestyle that offends yours, demand that they leave it away from your home. I speak from experience as we’ve had an adult child and her children move in with us three times, each time abusing our hospitality. From leaving dirty dishes and diapers everywhere in the house to going on shopping sprees when she said she needed to borrow money for daycare or a car payment, it was a disaster. Twice weekly our neighbors were witness to the spectacle of a screaming match between our daughter and her husband. We actually considered selling our home and running away just so we could have some peace!!!! When we took a firm stand for ourselves, she moaned and cried, told us that her world would end, that our grandchildren would live in poverty and be left at the mercy of strangers. We stood firm against the wailing that was so much a part of her pre-teen years. Guess what? She found a way to make her marriage work. But more importantly, we learned that for so long as she had a way to leave the marriage and her responsibilities she would never put any effort into becoming the woman she could be. In short, it was our inability to let go and expect her to grow up that was a big part of the problem.

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