To parents who give money to adult children, the rule is this: if you give money for specific things, you can attach strin

Hot Button # 4:  Money and Support. part 5A

To parents who give money to adult children, the rule is this: if you give money for specific things, you can attach strings. It’s perfectly fine, fair, and reasonable to say, ‘We want to give you money for XYZ–to lease this car, to go to Israel, to get a tutor, and so on.”  There’s nothing wrong with this, and the child can either accept your offer, or choose not to.

However, for the adult parent who is financially supporting a child either partially or entirely, give the money unconditionally.  If you give it with strings attached, you’re using the money as a weapon that will only serve to damage the relationship. If you use money to control the lives of your child, you’re making an all-too common, and sad mistake. It is  likely too, that you  tried every other way to control the child, when he was younger, and it hasn’t worked out too well.

Try to find one person who is able to dictate the terms of how his child lives his life while at the same time, maintaining a happy, healthy relationship – it simply doesn’t work.  That child is already feeling a sense of dependency, and perhaps even inadequacy.  And now you’re going to control how he spends the money?  Nobody wins.

More machlokes, more challenges, more strains, more estrangements, and more feuds have developed from parents who, with good intentions, give money to their adult children, only to use it to exert influence over their lives

Now you may be thinking that: it’s my money, I worked hard for it, and I’m  not going to let my child waste it away. Why shouldn’t I have the right to tell my child how I want him to spend it?

The answer is, that you’re not going to accomplish what you want to. While the bills may be paid, the emotional price tag goes higher and higher, and your relationship with him can only spiral downwards. Yes, it’s your money, but if you choose to give it to your child, then give it— unconditionally—or don’t give it at all.

To the adult child who is being supported by a parent or in-law, you must make a decision.  Sometimes,  money will solve one problem, while creating many others; and on occasion, it’s not worth the exchange rate–you’re giving up too much.

Nonetheless,  you’ll find an amazing thing happens when you , with  extreme respect,  tell your parent or parent-in-law, “We very much appreciate your desire to help us and we love you for it. But this is not the way we want to live our lives, and so we can’t accept the money under these conditions. We hope that you understand.”

The response just may be, “OK. Let’s talk about it”

There’s a saying in negotiation: He who wants it less wins. You have to be able to walk away from the table.  You have to be able to look at a situation and say, ‘Is this worth it?”  It’s a beautiful, wonderful, and sometimes necessary thing that parents do to help out their children, particularly those children who want to learn.  But the parent must   recognize, that any attempt to dictate how their child lives his life, will be met with  unconscious resentment, if not over, fierce  anger.

Hot Button # 5:  Criticism Vs Praise. Statistics show that  the average child hears one bit of praise to forty bits of criticism during the course of a day.  If you had a job and you heard forty bits of criticism and one bit of praise, you wouldn’t want to work there.  Can you imagine a job like that?

No matter how old we get, we still want the approval, accolades, and praise of our parents.  So to parents of adult children: Lay off the criticism; your job as an educator has mostly ended. You are no longer responsible for your child’s character and integrity.  You’re not going to improve his midos. Your job now, is solely to try to have the best possible relationship.

Your child does not need to hear a non-stop stream of criticism.   Catch your child doing something right, and praise him for it.  Give him a pat on the back. That’s what he really wants and needs more than anything else.

Copyright © 2011 by Dovid Lieberman

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