Our kids are needier than ever. The statistics on a twentysomething finding a job make it sound more likely they'll be crowned king of Tongo. Waves and waves of college grads are returning home to live with their parents.
It's the rare parent who can say no to a child in need of a home. When it comes to money gifts and loans, it may be a little easier to deny a request. Here, some guidelines for helping your children.
Should You Let Your Kids Move Back In?
For parents of adult kids, Dr. Phil has four ground rules. Can't say I'm always on the same page with the good doctor, but these rules are sound: Set boundaries and don't feel guilty about it; allow your kids to plan their lives; help them in a way that allows them to develop self-sufficiency and pride of accomplishment; and prepare them for the world by not constantly diving in to save them.
Should You Lend Them Your Money?
If your child approaches you for a loan - to start a business, buy a home, go back to school - only you can decide whether to say yes or no. If the answer is yes, SmartMoney has some ideas about how to set up the loan.
Of course, you need to consider whether the use of the money is valid, whether you can spare it, and what your spouse's wishes are (which can be extra-tricky in a blended family).
Should You Give Them Your Money?
The first thing you should consider is yourself. Really. Be tough about whether you can afford to give. In a recent survey, 30 percent of midlifers said that financial help they were giving their kids was imperiling their own retirement. So be generous if you can, but don't feel guilty if you can't.
If you can give, the next question is, should you? Think about the pickle your child is in. Will it be better long-term, for him (or her) to suffer the consequences and learn from them? Does this fiscal emergency arise from a pattern of bad decision making, or is it the result of bad luck - loss of a job, a whopping medical bill. Get out a scratch pad and write down the plusses and minuses of making a cash gift. Whatever you decide, you'll be more comfortable for having thought it through.
Should You Give Them Your Time?
I'm a new grandmother and my favorite job description these days is babysitter. That goes for the rest of my friends who have grandkids too, and a number of them provide grandchild care while the parents are at work. The smart ones don't just say yes, anytime, anywhere - no matter how tempting that may be - but sit down with their kids and figure out a game plan that works for the entire family. Our kids need to know that they can count on us; and we need to know we have enough free time to live the rest of our lives. This is the easy one: a win-win way of helping your children.