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Setting Financial Boundaries With Your Children

As a parent, you want to help your kids.  You also need to plan ahead for your own financial needs.  You’ll find some great advice in this financial article I found on Yahoo news.  But here’s the thought I had running through my mind the entire time I read it – the title of this article is really missing something.

Protect Your Money From Your Children

What?!  That’s what I thought when I first read the title.  It conjures up an image of your children stealing and sneaking your money behind your back.  But that’s not the real story here.

The title makes it seem like the children are largely at fault for wanting their parents’ money.  Yes, it may be selfish and fairly childish (even for an adult child).  However, the only way they will get the money is if the parents willingly hand it over or allow their kids direct access to their accounts.

It’s important to clarify whether your children might truly be stealing from you (taking money without your consent or knowledge) or if you are giving it to them.  If you are giving your kids so much “help” money you are putting your retirement at risk, then you need to strongly reconsider what your long-term plan is.

Before you give your kids “help money,” you’ll make the best decision if you consider a few things first.

  1. Consider their character, lifestyle, and how likely they are to use your money wisely
  2. Consider how much they may be able to help themselves as well as or instead of using your money
  3. Consider ways of helping that don’t involve money but will still help them get back on their feet
  4. Be sure you know whether your money is a gift or a loan, and make it clear to them
  5. Consider whether they have a pattern of “emergencies” or if their misfortune is truly out of their control
  6. Beware of emotional manipulation when money is involved

There’s nothing wrong with giving your adult child a gift of money, for example, to help them with a down payment on their first home. If they have a good job and they are likely to take good care of their home, it can be a wonderful and much appreciated gesture.  But if you are asked to cover your child’s rent for months because they can’t manage their money, that’s a whole different story.

As I said, this article has some great suggestions for teaching your kids how to use money.  But first, realize that your kids probably won’t put your retirement at risk unless you give them permission.

Money is often tangled up with emotion, especially when family members are involved.  What positive and negative ways has money been used in your family?

Creative Commons License photo credit: 22CheyenneMarie

Setting Financial Boundaries With Your Children

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2011). Setting Financial Boundaries With Your Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2011
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