On The Shore PRIME MAGAZINE — 07 May 2017
Cutting off the kids: When is enough enough?

By Emily J. Minor

City & Shore PRIME Magazine

Joseph Chalom, a financial planner who mostly helps members of the middle class plan for retirement, looks at it this way:

“You’re not doing them any favors,” he says, of parents who financially support their healthy adult children.

Cue Sandra Hoover, 74, a retired school counselor and the accommodating mother of two grown sons. Despite their ages – 44 and 46 – she and her husband, Will, are still very much involved in their sons’ financial stability.

“It’s an interesting question,” she says.

Of course, good parents have always looked out for their children. Years ago, when children tended to stay put, there was always grandma around to watch the kids, help with meals, maybe even splurge on some back-to-school clothes in the fall.

Today, though, with more children moving away – and more children struggling to find a stable career – the generation-to-generation help tends to be more about the checkbook.

Chalom, who’s owned Retirement Council Inc. in Broward for decades, tells clients their needs – not their kids – come first. “Sometimes a little tough love goes a long way,” he says.

“It drives me crazy, but so many people feel this social obligation to take care of family members,” says Chalom, himself the father of two daughters. “Some people can afford it and some people can’t, and I always end up having a discussion with them about the concept of enablement.

“They’re doing this out of a feeling of perceived love, but in reality, you may be enabling that individual.”

Hoover, of Lake Worth, says she couldn’t be more on the fence about all this. One of her sons is married with children; the other is not. And while each has had successful businesses through the years, she says, they’re not the type of entrepreneurs to go work in fast food while brainstorming their next venture.

“I’ve said ‘no’ to them several times, and then turned around and said ‘yes,’” she says, adding that she and her husband can afford to help.

“The decision has been hard,” she says. “I just wish I knew what was right.”

How to cut back financial support

  • Financial planner Joseph Chalom suggests:
  • Set boundaries, and stick to them. At his house, he says, they’ve used an “adult responsibility agreement” – which simply spells out the rules and expectations.
  • Decide when the support will end. That is, establish
    an “end date.”
  • Help them create a budget.
  • Pull back gradually. Don’t email them that all this
    ends tomorrow.
  • Set a good example. If your finances are willy nilly, their’s might be too.

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