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How to cut off financially dependent adult children

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Sep. 30, 2013 at 7:34 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's not uncommon for parents to help out their adult children when they need money, but how can parents best cut off a mooching child?

Is it better to wean an adult child off of their financial support, or should parents just cut them off cold turkey?

American Credit Foundation spokesman Mike Peterson said he believes it's better if parents wean them. He said a lot of mooching adults wouldn't be able to handle their own finances. That's why he recommends parents sit down with their adult kids to map out a very specific budget.

"It'll be very enlightening for both the parent and the child to walk through that exercise and see where that money is going," he said. "The parent can instantly identify areas where the child is buying things that are not particularly needed."

If parents decide to give their kids financial help, Peterson said they need to be very clear on exactly when it will stop.

  • Map out a budget
  • Set expectations and timetable
  • Specify whether gift or loan

"How long will it be available? For instance, if I'm going to help you with rent, I will be willing to do that for the next three months, or something of that nature," he said.

Parents also need to set clear rules about whether their support is a gift or a loan.

"Also, is there anything expected of the child to receive this financial support?" Peterson asked.

Of course, not every adult child who needs money should be considered a sponge. There will be times when the child legitimately needs help. Still, Peterson said parents don't need to respond to their kid's request right away.

"We're going to think about that and evaluate it for a period of a few days or maybe a week before we make a decision on that," he suggested.

Paul Nelson

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