I’m reading a fascinating book, “How to Raise Your Adult Children,” by comedy writer Gail Parent and psychotherapist Susan Ende. It’s not quite like any other parenting or money book I’ve ever read, but it makes some great points about how many parents are failing their kids by not expecting more of them.
- No one is truly independent unless they’re financially independent. Our kids may resist cutting the financial umbilical cord because of fear of the unknown, but our job as parents is to teach them to be independent and then boot ‘em out of the nest.
- The dependent resent those they’re dependent on. Parents who support adult children may believe the kids will be grateful and will love them more, but financially dependency creates “shame and self-doubt” in the offspring.
- Living on their own is part of becoming independent. “We need to expect and prepare our children to live on their own after school,” the authors write. Financial setbacks and unemployment may bring them back to the nest, but their stay shouldn’t be indefinite. There should be a plan for returning them to the wild and they should contribute to the household in the meantime.
- College is a proving ground, for kids and for parents. “By the time a kid leaves college he should have mastered the skills of budgeting, financial planning, delayed gratification, working, spending wisely and saving for a rainy day,” the authors write. “College is a good time to practice those skills. We shouldn’t send money on demand, or bail a kid out.”
It’s still early days with our daughter (she’s only in elementary school), but I can easily understand the temptation is to keep her “close,” safe and dependent long after it’s time for her to start spreading her wings. I know it’s our job as parents to make ourselves obsolete, and teaching her to be financially independent is just one of the ways we’ll do that.