The following is a question that was asked of Chris Theisen, creator of “The Parent Coach Plan” and co-owner of www.ContractForAdultChild.com. This Q&A first appeared in a forum that appeared on the ParentCoachPlan.com website.
Question: I saw your article and thought perhaps you might help We have a 30 year old son with crones disease. He works for us in a family business and earns 70K/year. He is always asking for money and I want it to stop. The problem is that his Dad and I have a lot of money. We are in our 60’s and are finally spending money we’ve been saving all our lives as we lived very carefully knowing retirement could be hard. The son has a house, three cars, 5 scooters and is getting married tomorrow. For his wedding he spent nothing, not even for the photographer. His girlfriends mother footed the whole bill, we kicked in for the caterer and are giving them 1000 for an airplane ticket for Hawaii. Earlier on we also paid off his second mortgage so he could afford to stay in his house. We also pay his medical bills as crones is expensive. I just don’t know where this ends. My husband says the next issue will be children. Even if his wife stays home to have kids, he makes 70K a year in a small town. He has expensive hobbies and I guess he doesn’t want to give them up. They also do not need 3 brand new cars. I have paid his property taxes twice in the last two years. I’m so tired of his sob stories that I do not want to see or speak to him. He only calls or comes to see us when he wants something. He is a totally selfish and needy to the max. I realize he has never learned to budget. Giving the tax money was done so he wouldn’t lose his house. The medical money is out of guilt. Is 70K enough to live on? One of his last statement was “her parents are giving us a honeymoon and they aren’t as rich as you. You need to pay for some.” He feels we owe him money because we are wealthy and he is not. Where does it end? Because we have money will I always have to give it to my son. Oh, my oldest son has never asked for a penny. It’s really a strain on our family. Top this off with he works about 25 hours a week instead of 40 and he is paid anyway. (again, the crones and I don’t want him to lose his house) I need a shrink I’m sure, but they don’t have any advice on financial matters. I could sure use help…. I keep saying “not one more penny” then another issue arises and I feel guilty.
Answer: Let me first begin by answering your question…yes, 70K is enough to live on…unless, of course, you have a $100K lifestyle. I’m not sure which is worse…the fact that he is obviously taking advantage of you or the fact that you are allowing it to happen. Lessons are never learned when enablers are in charge. I, too, have parents that are wealthy and I feel guilty when they buy me dinner while I’m out visiting them. Your son should feel the same way. I would highly suggest turning your “hand-outs” into “loans.” Next time he asks for money, tell him that you will loan him a reasonable amount of money to help him through his “situation” but only if he signs a written agreement which states the terms of repayment. Do not loan him any more money until the previous loan is repaid. You could even have him do odd jobs to work off the loan (at a fair wage, of course). I’m sorry to say, but you should not be supporting expensive hobbies just because you feel guilty about his disease. Life will go on for him and he will cope. If you continue to give him hand-outs because you feel guilty then he will never learn to be responsible and he will always depend on you (or others). He certainly feels entitled to your money and that is not okay. Even if it means that he has to move into a smaller home (or condo) and sell one of his cars, then so be it. You are creating a monster by continuously giving him hand-outs. When the money stops, he will be forced to figure things out for himself…whether that means getting a second job, spending less money on hobbies, selling a car, or whatever. Good luck and keep me posted. I’d love to hear about what you choose to do and how it turns out.