Saturday, September 21, 2013

How To Help Your Grown-up Child

Got a job/career?  Let your teen or adult child help you or learn from you or a co-worker.

Got a business?  Train your child and let them take some control.

Lately this is something I've been thinking about a lot.  With the economy the way it is, it's tough to not notice a lot of relationship struggles taking place alongside the economic.

A lot of adult children live with their parents, and while I don't think that in itself is an issue at all, it can be when either of the following is true:
1. The child is under or unemployed
2. The child has been out on their own before and would rather not live with parents
3. The parents want the child to move out
4. The parents want the child to learn, work or "apply themselves" in a way the child doesn't want to
5. The child is starting a business
6. The child has children
7. The parents are starting a business or work from home
8. There's massive debt and bills between them
9. There are other adult children or dependents living in the house

You get it.  Some families choose to live together past the standard 18-22 because it works well and they all want it to be that way.  Sometimes this is not the case.  Sometimes the adult child isn't even living in the house but is still somehow a dependent.

The issues regarding these situations be balanced.  I certainly don't have all the answers but I know that underemployed, unemployed, self-employed, entrepreneurs, single parents, one-income families, etc. are full of experiences and skills.  Any moderately healthy adult has lived long enough to do something of help to the family.

If the adult child is not bringing in any or enough money, I think it's a good idea as a parent to give them some extra support.  More than likely you know some opportunities, you know people, you have skills and resources that your children are unaware of, so why not make the connections?

If you help your child get training to do something you're familiar with or someone you know and trust is an expert on for free, that may be the thing that helps your child get ahead of their current struggles.

Without naming any names I know a few families.
One of those families owns a business.  A local business.  They trained their children to work for them when they were teenagers, but they barely paid them, it was more of a family demand than a job, so their children also worked various fast food and retail jobs as teens.

The parents also work regular 9-5 jobs.  Two of the kids are now in college and one graduated from college a few years ago.

When one child comes home from school, he works a menial job.  The older graduated child got a regular 9-5 job but then was fired.  He wants to help his parents business but they won't let him.  He also wants to go back to school or somehow learn to take this skill that the family business is based on and make it more of an artistic and professionally opportunity for himself.  He wants to take the business and his skills to the next level and make it more than local, but he needs a little support and permission from his parents.

They encouraged him to get another job in another field that is uninteresting to him.  Why are jobs somehow better than self-led work for so many people?  Why not encourage people to make their own way?

Anyway, on the other hand there is another family member in this family who tried to come up with a plan with the son who wanted to take over a part of the family business. This family member has a lot of skills in growing businesses and marketing, though none of the technical skills.  The parents also shot down this member of the family (who was like a child to them).

I know a couple other families with very similar stories.  It leaves me wondering, if parents want to help their adult children to be more financially stable, why not start at home, where they are, with what they already know or can be learned easily through regular family interactions?

How helpful is it to continuously hold on to the ideas of testing children with independence with small bits of abandonment poured on top of each other.  Parenting doesn't end at the age of 18 or 22 or whenever the child graduates.  Rather they are financially stable or not, children will still need their parents support, especially during those first years of working and trying to support themselves, switching careers, losing jobs, finally finding your passion, trying to make your own way.

Do your kids have something to fall back on, if and probably when their first course of financial independence falls through?  Something you can and will support them in developing, training or starting of their own volition and by allowing them to share their own skills to make a project uniquely their own?

If you have work or resources, would you encourage your child to share their solutions, expertise and learn enough to give them a grounded approach to starting something where it's most comfortable to start...with people you know, love, trust.  Parents, grandparents, family friends? I don't suggest parents go out of their way to hold their child's hand step-by-step, but to maybe walk together to that place where they can discover and make an impact.

Maybe, we should start doing these things long before children reach adulthood.  Maybe that first 5-year-old business idea should be thought of as more than a dream, but as an opportunity to learn, make an impact, to make their own way.  Why not indulge these tiny pieces of trust, rather than push them away leaving holes of abandonment that may eventually leave a huge gash in your relationship?

What would you suggest to families in this situation?

1 comment:

  1. We have a son in this age-range and he did live with us until he was about 22, but we never really had a problem with it. I think because we set clear expectations for him from the time he was pretty young. The theme in our house is that there are no free rides. You want a cell phone - you pay for it. You want a car - you pay for it. You want to go out to the movies or whatever - you pay for it. We love you and want to encourage you in whatever you do, and if we see you are working hard and just can't quite make it, we are happy to help you, but if you're not willing to work, then you just aren't going to have the things you want. We have bills and obligations of our own to worry about. That said, son is now saving up for his wedding, and we are helping him by allowing him to do some painting and other work around the house, and also help with my husband's landscaping business. And we have offered to pay for the venue, but they have to keep it within reason. I'm always much more about a hand up than a hand out because I think that's a better way to teach kids to be independent.


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