According to census data, more than half of people aged 18 to 24 live with their parents, and roughly 13% of adults ages 24 to 35 do as well. While many of these young people are hard-working individuals, trying to save money to pay off school loans, buy a house, or start a business, some are simply adult children who remain dependent on their parents, unmotivated to live life on their own. These individuals, though they may not mean to, can become emotionally and financially draining on their parents.
Here are three warning signs you may have adult children who are too dependent on you, and three ways you can stop enabling them.
1. You are Responsible for Them
If you find yourself shouldering your adult child’s responsibilities, and he or she is perfectly happy to let you do it, you may have a problem. If your child is non-productive while you take on a second job to pay off their debt or pay their car insurance, it may be time to have a talk.
2. Your Child is Constantly Borrowing Money from You
It’s perfectly fine to financially help out your adult child every once in a while. But if your son or daughter is constantly borrowing money from you because they can’t seem to hold down a job, and if they constantly promise to pay it back but never do, this is a red flag.
3. You are Often Disrespected
Young people who are struggling to find their places in the world and start their own lives are often moody. But there is a fine line between a bad mood and blatant disrespect.
Does your son or daughter seem respectful and even loving when they want or need help from you, and then become disrespectful or passive-aggressive should you say “no” to their requests? Though you may want to give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute this behavior to those bad moods, this is a warning sign that your child may be too needy in your direction.
It’s important that you encourage your child to be independent. It’s also important that you remain positive and avoid being adversarial as much as possible when talking with them. Calmness yet firmness will go a long way in setting healthy boundaries in the relationship.
1. Agree on a time limit
Sit down with your child and discuss an exit plan. For example: yes, they may stay but only for an agreed upon amount of time.
2. Have them contribute
Having no financial responsibilities while living with you will not help your adult child prepare for the real world. Ask your son or daughter to contribute to the monthly expenses. If they are currently unemployed, ask them to do chores like gardening, grocery shopping, or cleaning.
3. Don’t indiscriminately give money
Borrowing money to recover from a unexpected circumstance and to get back on their feet is one thing. However continuing to give your adult children financial assistance, particularly if it begins to negatively impact your own finances, can become a bad situation for everyone involved. If you choose to lend money to your adult child there should be a clear understanding of the expectations and parameters involved, and any gifts that you decide to give should not hurt your own financial well-being.
Sometimes, having a heartfelt discussion with your son or daughter can be difficult. At times like these, it’s often helpful to have a therapist to assist you in formulating a game plan, preparing for difficulties that may arise and practicing healthy and effective communication skills.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.