Its Not Too Early for Tough Love

Money Hand by Neuble

Money Hand by Neuble


Mary Pleshette Willis wrote an article over at called Tapped Out: Supporting Adult Children.  She talked about parents who are still supporting their kids out of college or who fail to put the reigns on handing out money like an ATM when their kids face hard times.   Most of these parents were aware that they were doing too much.  But, when it came down to it, they were not willing to let their children fall into subpar living conditions and in many cases, anything less then the [sometimes high] standards they had become accustom to at home.

In Ms. Willis’ article, she is talking about grown children in their 20s and 30s.  But, what about beyond that age range?  If continued support goes well into adulthood and middle age, when does it become too late say no, set limitations, and begin enforcing those limitations?

Not having any children myself, I can only imagine how hard it would be for a parent to stop providing a safety net for a child and what a tough start it would be for a child to stop relying on parents when the groundwork for independence had never really been laid.  Sometimes this process is initiated by a guilt-ridden parent tormented by the hours spent working away from the child or some other event occurring during the kid’s early years.  Sometimes the parent’s reign is so heavy that the child never develops the will or the desire to take care of his – or herself.

Many readers may not consider this scenario applicable because you do not yet have children or because your children are still children.  But, for young parents, maybe now is the time to start practicing a bit of tough love.  Maybe now is the time to start teaching your children to be self-sufficient… to want to be self-reliant. 

I don’t know.  Again, I don’t yet have children.  But, it makes sense to me to start as early as possible.

What’s your take?  Have you thought about these things when it comes to your children?



Filed under Family, Tough Life Thursdays

4 responses to “Its Not Too Early for Tough Love

  1. Nice post. This issue resonates with me. As an adult there were times I wished (immaturely) that my parents would have helped me financially. I believed then, but not now, that it would have made life so much easier. Easier isn’t always better. By not being helped by my parents I enjoyed (!) working my way out of a number of struggling situations.
    Now that my two older children 21 and 19 are on their own – together – I help them out when I can. They are just starting out on their own. I am consciously encouraging them to set achievable goals for themselves. I feel it is disempowering to them to receive financial handouts from me when they are of an age and ability to make their own way in life. It’s a balance.

    • suprieta

      @Suze – good for you for teaching your children early to set goals and go after them. It definitely makes life more interesting when you are controlling your own destiny. And although I can imagine how hard it is for a parent to see their children suffer, it must be immensely rewarding to see them overcome difficulty and emerge a stronger and more mature individual.

  2. Paulette

    Great article and so true.

    Carolyn Hax a columnist in the Post wrote a column that addressed the issue of parents who continually give money to their children. She said “custodial finances produce grateful, thriving children roughly 0 percent of the time, and ingrates with ill-tended stockpiles of seething resentment about 100 percent of the time.” Since these kids/adults have been proped all their lives “there’s no foundation for looking inward for blame. There is, however, an easy target: the parents. (And, to a lesser extent, any siblings, especially those who do take responsibility for their own lives.) For an adult sense of cause-and-effect to kick in, it often takes a very hard fall, without any kind of net.”

    • suprieta

      @Paulette – Great quote! It is very interesting that the kid who gets the handout then often turns and bites the hand that is feeding him. What anguish must be felt by the parent who is sacrificing resources to help a child that is unappreciative, bitter and hostile.

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