Parenthood is full of highs and lows. If you have children, you probably know firsthand what it feels like to be in debt. Because you know how debt feels and you love your children, you probably want to step in and relieve them of their own financial worries. However, there are productive and unproductive ways to help adult children through their debt. Here are a few practical strategies that can help your kids with money without coming to the rescue financially.
Give your time.
The costs of child and pet care can add up quickly, so you can lend a hand with babysitting or pet sitting while your child works extra hours or travels for business. If they don’t have children or pets of their own, offer to cook or clean for them once a week. Simple acts of kindness like this help eliminate stress at home so they can focus on earning more money.
Donate your items.
If your child is a first-time renter or homebuyer, it may be tough for them to furnish their new space without stretching their budget thin. Go through your own items at home and decide what you can hand down to your children—especially if you’re planning on downsizing soon. A coffee table, chair, or even just a few kitchen utensils can go a long way in helping your child start off after college or in their first home. Keep your eyes and ears open to needs that might arise for material goods you can provide to them.
Share your skills.
With age comes experience and wisdom. Teach your children the financial habits that got you through tough times. Offer broad advice like budgeting techniques, as well as more specific skills like gardening, sewing, and changing the oil in a car—all of which can save your child money. If you have a financial advisor you’ve known and trusted for years, this could be an opportune time to give your child their information.
Lend an ear.
Sometimes just listening to your child’s financial worries in a non-judgmental way can help them. Only give your two cents if they ask you for it, and be prepared to listen to their stress and concerns. It can be tough for your children to talk about money with their friends, especially because people can be in very different financial places in their 20s and 30s. However, they know that, as their parent, you will always love them unconditionally, so they may trust you more than anyone to encourage and support them.
Every family is unique. Therefore, every parent-child relationship is different. You might find that a combination of these techniques works for you, or you can use them to brainstorm strategies that fit your relationship. Try to match their level of investment, because if you push too hard, they might become distant about sharing financial information. It’s a balancing act that might take time. But don’t become discouraged, because your children will need you when they decide they are ready for your help.
At the end of the day, remember that money is just that, money. Don’t strain your relationship with worries about debt. If you implement these tips, you can resist the urge to pay off their debt for them. Because above all, they need to be able to stand on their own as the responsible person you raised them to be.