Millennial Money: Should You Financially Support Adult Kids?

Millennial Money: Should You Financially Support Adult Kids?

Elizabeth Ayoola of NerdWallet  Mon, June 19, 2023

Some parents will tell you firsthand there’s no expiration date on this raising kids gig. For some, that means they extend financial help to their kids into adulthood. When I was 21 and got into a master’s program at a college of my dreams, my mom swooped in to help me pay for my degree. Many parents have been kind enough to do this and more.

When I say “many,” I’m backed up by a 2023 survey from that found 45% of parents with a child 18 or older spend an average of over $1,400 per month supporting their kids financially, excluding adult kids with disabilities.

But is this financial support always a good idea? A certified financial planner and a therapist who both have experience in this department share their thoughts.

Why Parents Support Adult Kids

There are many reasons a parent may choose to support their adult kids. Disabilities and wanting to help them achieve major life milestones are a couple. Shelmeshia Hill-Brown, the CEO of Wholistic Resolutions LLC in Chesapeake, Virginia, is a social worker and therapist who works with parents who financially support their adult kids. A major theme she sees is parents helping pay for school, especially since the pandemic. Buying a home and exploring infertility treatments are other reasons her clients financially support their kids.

While some parents offer financial support because they want to, others feel obligated even when it’s financially inconvenient. Sometimes, the obligation stems from guilt of not preparing their kids for financial independence early on, Hill-Brown says.

“They didn’t do that one-on-one time with them, to sit down and actually teach them,” she says. “But a lot of that also stemmed from, it never (being) done with them, as well, so they were learning along the way, and it made it a little bit more challenging to sit down and come up with a plan to implement with their own children.”

Risks Of Supporting Adult Children

Supporting your kids can be satisfying, but it also may be detrimental if you’re not financially secure. It also can affect retirement savings, which many Americans already have concerns about. Fidelity’s 2023 Retirement Savings Assessment tells us 52% of American households may not be able to cover essential expenses in retirement. And roughly 50% even plan to work during retirement.

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