We’ve all heard the expression a puppy is for life, not just for Christmas, but the fact that there is no equivalent regarding children suggests that is taken for granted, and rightly so, of course. The emotional bond between parent and child is established even before birth and continues for life What is not so clear is that the initial years when the parents handle all the financial stuff may appear to end when the child gets out into the labor market, but if they get into trouble, who are they going to turn to?
They may hate to do it, but if all else fails, that’s what families are for. There is no actual obligation, no contractual commitment to be honored, but when the chips are down, Mom or Dad may be the only answer, and as parents, most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. A parent may already have become linked to their offspring finances as a co-signer on a student loan, taking joint responsibility for paying it back because the lender required more security than the prospective borrower could provide in terms of track record, or credit score.
Mentor vs. Supporter
The wise approach for a parent is to act as a mentor, rather than just a supporter. The senior figure will have opinions about careers, lifestyles, the suitability of partners, and so on, but these opinions are sometimes best kept to us. A mentor acts as an adviser and helps the next generation onto the ladder of the finance world. Even if the parent has a humble or even checkered financial record, they can use this as a cautionary tale, showing the child what can happen if you’re not careful and don’t take this finance business seriously.
Ideally, though, the adult should be able to demonstrate how they got over the obstacles life has thrown at them, from repaying loans to taking out new ones and eventually a mortgage, the good management of which has resulted in homeowner status outright. You might see your child racking up the charges on a credit card as if there is no tomorrow and no consequences. This could be the time to step in with advice on taking out a personal loan to pay off the card, with the loan’s lower interest rate making your financial life easier. The role of supporter is an admirable one, if the support isn’t taken for granted and the younger person learns to stand on their own two feet financially, to be helped out occasionally if the situation demands it.
Let Go, But Don’t Be Too Far Away
Just as a child learns to walk, swim, ride a bike, and drive a car, they will eventually become pretty much self-sufficient, which is good for both parties. But when you are teaching your kids to be responsible as that mentor/supporter we are always there in the background, the lifeboat available in times of distress.
They Might Know Better Than You
There comes a time when a child knows things the parent doesn’t. You may notice the schoolwork you used to help with is now beyond you. They are suddenly bigger than you and can beat you at tennis. This is great and it’s what we should all be hoping for, that we have raised a good, talented, competent person.
You Really Don’t Understand Some Things Because it’s Different Now
While it is tempting to think we are closer to our children than our parents were to us and the generational divide doesn’t exist, that is not true. They are growing up with certain things, not least technology, which are second nature to them, while you may struggle to understand or make things work as a mom.