I can only imagine the angst a mama bird feels as she kicks her chick out of the nest. “Please fly, honey. Please.”
As a father, I’m already preparing for that moment despite having a few years before it will be here. I know there's a fine line between helping our children financially and enabling them, and I want to set them on the right path.
If you’re approaching the time for your fledgling to test its wings or if you have an adult child who is struggling to take flight financially, perhaps these tips will help:
- Discuss needs vs. wants. Help your child understand the difference between necessities and desires. For example, a smartphone with an expensive monthly contract might be OK if your child is working, but it’s probably questionable if not. The same is true for a new(er) car. List everything you pay on your child's behalf and discuss what's necessary and what's not. Then work toward shifting responsibility for the “what’s not” to them.
- Ask “what if.” Get your child to think about this question: "What would you do if you were entirely on your own?" Research the cost of rent, utilities, insurance and other grown-up bills for your area so your child can see the real cost.
- Focus on yourself. This may sound like I'm suggesting that you be selfish, but I’m not. The point is to take care of your own financial house so it doesn’t fall apart. You don’t want the tables to turn so that you’re the one needing financial help. Understanding your own financial situation can help you make a decision, based more on facts and less on emotion, about how much assistance you can give your children.
Since all families are unique, I’m sure there are other ideas out there. But these three can get you started.
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