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Mom and Dad help out -- as usual

More and more adult children are depending on their parents for financial help.

By doubleace May 23, 2011 3:20PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Fifty-nine percent of parents provide financial support for their adult children who no longer are in school, according to a survey done for Forbes.


To which I have two questions: "That few?" And, "What's new?"


The Forbes story has the statistics -- unemployment rate over 14% for 20- to 24-year-olds, huge debt from college loans, etc. -- while my evidence is merely anecdotal. At dinner with friends or on the golf course with buddies, it is a recurring conversation.

Sometimes it is a daughter whose marriage has gone bad moving back home, with a young child. Sometimes it is a down payment on a house. Or back-to-school shopping for the grandkids. Maybe a little cash here and there.


Always there is a little shrug that says, "What else could I do? We're the parents and they're the children -- forever perhaps."


About a month ago, I wrote a blog post, "Don’t blame the kids; it's tough out there," that compared education costs, job availability and home prices now and a generation ago. My conclusions were backed by Forbes' survey: One in three older parents say their children are worse off than they were at the same age.

So they help, sometimes grudgingly but most of the time with the loving understanding that almost everyone needs a helping hand at some point in their life. And sometimes they help at considerable sacrifice: putting off retirement, postponing vacations, stretching a couple of more years out of the car.


I suspect -- again, just anecdotal evidence -- that if you eliminate from the equation the children who do not need assistance and the parents who flat can't help, the percentage receiving support from Mom and Dad might runs closer to 85% (with some offspring, you eventually have to say no).


And it's probably always been that way.


My parents didn't have much of anything except kids -- there were seven of us. Mom was a homemaker and Dad was a grocery clerk. At one point, my oldest sister, her husband and their new baby were living in the basement, while my oldest brother, his wife and their new baby were living in the attic of my parents' small three-bedroom house. Oh, at the same time, my mom came home from the hospital with her final child (the three babies were born in a 12-day span).

Helped through a tough moment by parents who didn't have much to spare, the squatters eventually moved out and on to wonderful, productive lives.


I was just a freshman in high school, oblivious to real-world finances. It was only years later, when my wife and I were raising our own children, that I realized the enormity of what my parents had done in housing and feeding 13 people on one man's rather ordinary wages.


Now I understand. It's what parents do.


More on MSN Money:


Second job? Most of them need to get a first job. LOL

May 23, 2011 5:35PM
Just say no!  Parents who give to spoiled kids living beyond their means money sure aren't teaching them how to be adults.  Every kid deserves to starve (as an adult) and learn the wonders of a second job.

Jun 3, 2011 3:13PM

Parents NEED to say no.  It's called tough love, and it works.  I knew from a young age that my parents would not bail me out if I made mistakes with money or didn't work hard enough to support myself.  Their motto was this: we will be your safety net so you never hit rock bottom, but we will never be your hammock.  I'm 26 years old.  My husband and I own a small home, work hard and live well within our means.  Neither of us has a college education or a trust fund.  I have plenty of friends/classmates who are still living with their parents, going to grad school, racking up ridiculous amounts of debt trying to 'find themselves'.  They pay no rent, always have the latest designer bags, new cars and cash to blow, but say they can't afford to move out because the apartments they can afford are below their standards. my opinion, they have become too accustomed to mom and dad's lifestyle. 

Jun 3, 2011 3:02PM

Aw Cmon in most cases they don't even have one job.  My daughter is in the reserves only, she did have a job but had to leave it ifor reserve duty, which was great but then it ended.  We find that most people don't want to hire you because you have that commitment. 

Tough tooties to them.   She is now currently pregnant and when she has the baby, tricare (medical) will take up all of her reserve pay.  She gets money from the baby's father but can not get a job right now because she is pregnant.  After she has the kid she will be looking for another job.  But who will hire her?  She can go back to her other job and work only 12 hours a week but that didn't pay squat.  You can't afford childcare with that.  So what would you do?  Let your daughter and grandbaby live on the streets and starve?


you are heartless if you say yes.  Now if she had a job and just blew it (like my sister did) then I would say no (but feed the grandbaby).  Sorry I got on my soapbox and couldn't jump off.  Sad


It is just a touchy subject to me.  My sister used my parents in that way and they had to file for bankruptcy and it just ticks me off. 



Jun 3, 2011 4:23PM
Hmmm, ever wonder if it's the opposite way around?  In my case, I lived at home to help support my mother when she lost her job as I was fortunate enough to get a good job straight out of college.  I still despise those that constantly scolded me for living at home a few extra years after college as they had no clue I was the one paying the bills.  I could have easily said no, but that's not the right thing to do.  The morons out there that think you can get away with "tough love" by saying "no" don't live in the real world.  Good paying jobs are harder to find and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to live on your own in general regardless of age.
Jun 22, 2011 7:28AM
I think it is OK to help out family that has fallen on hard times.  However, it seems that my friends' children do not even 'look' for work and seem to think their parents are to provide for them, despite the fact that said 'children' do nothing for their keep, and seem to think that work is beneath them.  What is a parent to do with an adult child living with them?  If they ask them to move out, and they refuse, does the parent call the police to escort them away?  Most likely, if that were to happen, the child would simply disappear when/before the police arrived, and that would accomplish nothing.  How do you deal with this?! 
Jun 3, 2011 3:31PM
Lys1985 - very well put. Safety net vs hammock shouold be quoted to all adult children living at home. 
Jun 3, 2011 4:36PM
s1b5c7:  "More and more adult children are depending on their parents for financial help" is very different than the situation you are describing...I admire your willingness to help your mother, but you're in the wrong discussion board.  Good paying jobs are difficult to find...but in the meantime you pick up a couple of mediocre positions, get a roommate or two, and hold your head up high.  I don't make much, but I don't need much either.  When times get tough, the tough get RAMEN.
Jun 3, 2011 3:22PM
That's why they invented "Power Ball".    :-)
Aug 18, 2011 3:17PM
I did a lot of supporting my kids way past when I should but by george now they are helping me!!!!
I got in some financial trouble and my kids actually loaned me some money!!  It is well worth it, although it didn't seem like it at the time.

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