Financial Assistance for Older Grown Children

Should we provide financial assistance to our middle-aged adult children? Our son-in-law just lost his job. He's always made a good living but has struggled with serious health issues that have placed a burden on their finances. Our daughter has never once offered to help with their income by seeking work of any kind. I'm sorry to say that she's been unkind, self-centered, and lazy throughout their marriage. We don't feel much sympathy for her, but in view of everything our son-in-law has been through, we do feel compelled to keep them afloat while he looks for employment. We've done this for them on several other occasions when he's been between jobs. Do you think we're doing the right thing?

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We don’t believe there’s right or wrong in a case like this – no biblical should or shouldn’t. So the first thing to do is relax and shift the burden of pressure off yourselves. If you have the money to give, it’s entirely up to you what you do with it. But there are some questions you may want to ask yourselves before making up your minds.

Consider your motivation.

If you’re going to help your daughter and son-in-law financially, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it. Is it a matter of genuine love, concern, and compassion for your son-in-law? If so, great.

But if you may be acting out of a desire to control the situation or manipulate your daughter – or if you have a deep-seated need to be seen as a “rescuer” – you may want to reconsider. Ask yourselves how it would feel if you were to stop providing further funds.

And if your daughter has siblings, think about how they might react to what you’ve described.

Consider your gift’s effect on the problem.

Do you think your giving might aggravate the situation and make your daughter and son-in-law even more dependent on you than they already are? Could it make your daughter even less willing to look for a job and shoulder some of the load?

Remember: Marriage is about leaving father and mother and cleaving to one’s spouse. Your daughter and her husband are grown, mature individuals. You’re no longer in the position of parenting them. Their problems are not yours to fix.

Consider your gift’s effect on the marriage.

If you step in with financial help at this point, how might it impact your daughter’s marriage? Would the intervention help or harm resolution of any issues she and your son-in-law may have?

As we said at the start, there’s no absolute right or wrong here. It’s up to you after thinking through the pros and cons. But we will add that since you’ve given money in the past, if you decide to pull back, perhaps the best thing you can do is come up with a graceful and incremental way (over several months) to stop the financial aid.

And if you’d like to discuss this at greater length, call our Counseling department for a free consultation. Our licensed counselors will be happy to help in any way they can.

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Boundaries

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children

How to Really Love Your Adult Child

Blessing Your Grown Children

Complete Guide to Faith-Based Family Finances

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Splitting Heirs

Resource List: Family & Personal Finances

Referrals
Crown Financial Ministries

Dave Ramsey

Debt-Proof Living

Articles
Money and Finances

Establishing Boundaries With Adult Kids: Taking Action

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