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Ask Dr. G. Your Own Question

Dr. G.
Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1467
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist in the state of Minnesota
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Is it okay NOT to financially help a young adult child in order

Resolved Question:

Is it okay NOT to financially help a young adult child in order to encourage independence and to learn what it takes to make a go of things in this day and age? My daughter is 22 and living in a place she shares with her fiance. Both of them split the rent and utilities. They have part-time employment only, having dropped out of college. I am retired and living on a moderate pension. My daughter sees me as having plenty of money and living comfortably and thinks I have no financial worries. I have the sense that she thinks I should be giving her money to help her. But I have not done this because she will not look for a second job, still spends her money on things she wants rather than saving, and won't create and stick to a budget. Am I being too harsh on her? Being under 26, she is still on my health insurance but I expect her to pay for any doctor visits, etc. My dilemma is what if she were to get really sick and have a hug medical bill. Do I bail her out? Help her pay her medical expenses? Sometimes she will tell me that I can't possibly understand how tough things are for her since I am not working. As a single mother of just one child, I am finding it hard not to help her, yet I don't want to because I want her to learn life's lessons as we all had to to become successful in whatever we chose. It is hard to sit back, knowing my daughter is having a tough time sometimes. Am I being too harsh?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 1 year ago.

Dr. G. :

Hello there, I'd like to help.

Customer:

Hello

Dr. G. :

I'm very sorry you are worrying about your daughter this way. Has your daughter asked you for help financially?

Customer:

No, she has not directly asked. She is fiercely independent in some ways, wanting to do stuff on her own. But there have been times when I feel she is hoping I will offer to help.

Dr. G. :

Ok. I see. So to answer your question, the answer is absolutely, positively, NO you are not bein too harsh AT ALL.

Customer:

She is planning to get married this summer. She has not involved me in the planning but has called a couple of times to tell me how much things will cost (the church, the pastor). I know traditionally the parents of the bride pays for wedding stuff, but she has known since she was a young teen that I think big weddings are a waste of money and the money could otherwise be better spent (like downpayment on a house) and back then she thought the same. But I feel guilty that I feel I cannot afford to help with the wedding.

Customer:

I never put money aside for her wedding, although I did have a college plan for her. So in retirement, although I am okay, I do not have the extra money she was used to when I was working. And I don't think she gets that. I guess the problem is mine and my feelings.

Customer:

I have helped her financially when she first moved out, and she was very grateful. But I feel it is time she gets serious about budgeting her needs and wants so her money spreads. And hoping she sees soon that living paycheck to pay check (without any savings) is not smart. Yet, I still feel bad for not helping her.

Dr. G. :

As a parent I can see why you are feeling this way. My suggestion would be to talk to her and tell her what you ARE willing to help her with and what your are NOT willing to help her with. If there is any way you want to help her with the wedding financially then let her know how much or for what you will pay for if anything at all. If you cannot, then you cannot, but likely this should be a conversation with her. If she has not asked you directly for money to help with the wedding expense then you might not have much to worry about.

Customer:

I did pay for her wedding dress. Under what circumstances "should" I step in and help financially (not the wedding, but medical issues for example)?

Dr. G. :

Does she have any medical problems?

Dr. G. :

Will she still be under your insurance after she's married?

Customer:

ADHD for which she takes meds. Sometimes she says she doesn't have the money to buy her meds....yet she seems to have money to dye her hair.

Customer:

Yes, she will be under my insurance until she is 26. The difference in premium I pay to have her in the family plan is actually more than my premium would be if just for me.

Dr. G. :

Exactly, she has money to dye her hair so you are correct, she has money for the ADHD meds. She might even qualify for a program with her local county social services or the ADHD drug manufacturer to received a reduced price for her medication. Should her or her husband's job situation change and they are able to receive insurance benefits on their own they need to let you know, have you drop her from your insurance and she and her husband need to take care of it. Her medical bills are no longer your responsibility, period! She can set up a payment plan with the hospital, clinic, etc.

Dr. G. :

Letting go is a difficult transition. You have been in a "I must take care of everything for this child" mode for many years and it is truly difficult to just "let it go". It becomes so ingrained into a parent to take care of everything for our children, I would venture to guess even more so for an only child.

Customer:

Thank you for the suggestion re her ADHD meds and possibly a reduced program. Presently she only has to pay $10 (thanks to generic and insurance) so I am frustrated to hear her say she didn't have money for her pills.

Dr. G. :

Oh for Pete's sake. Her cost is $10. She can pay that. She needs to get another job or a full time job.

Customer:

Yes, you are right. I am having a problem letting go. I have always been a single mother of a single child (she was adopted at 4 months old) so the vast majority of my life has been dedicated to her. Retirement compounds the issue.

Customer:

She would love a full time job and keeps staying with employers who hint at full time but it never happens.

Customer:

So frustrating. But at least my stress is much less with her being out of the house. We do get along so much better with this distance. :)

Dr. G. :

Ha! I'm sure!

Customer:

Thanks for your advice and understanding.

Dr. G. :

have you read any books by chance on this topic of letting go?

Customer:

no....do you have some to recommend?

Dr. G. :

Yes, there's a book called "Letting go" by Coburn and Treeger

Customer:

I will look into that book. Thank you.

Dr. G. :

This is for parents of college age children, but there is good information in it regarding fostering independence and when to step in to help. This is a VERY common experience you are having, but you are correct in not paying for everything. That does not mean you can't help her, it just means setting limits with what you will help her with should you decide to do so.

Dr. G. :

There is another book that is a Faith based Christian book that i cannot remember the name of at this time. It is Let Go, Love ____ something. I apologize, but it is also a good book for parents who are feeling anxiety and guilt about this subject.

Customer:

Many thanks.

Dr. G. :

Thank you and best wishes for you!

Customer:

What do I say, how do I explain to her that since I am now retired I do not have any more income coming in than this reduced amount (i.e. I do not have years to seek and maintain employment as I did when younger) and thus cannot help her out as much as she might need IF she were to ask me?

Customer:

oh, sorry, just realized that I probably might find advice on my last question in one of the books you recommended.

Customer:

Thanks again.

Dr. G. :

Thats ok

Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1467
Experience: Licensed Psychologist in the state of Minnesota
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