Doting parents need to learn how to say ‘no’ to adult children still depending on them for financial help
Some older people feel duty bound to help their children. This brings about an interesting question of when help is help or when it becomes a millstone to the helper.
Sometimes people feel they are duty bound to help their children even though they also feel they are being used at the same time, others struggle with the idea of “doing unto others as you want done unto you”.
These are all powerful emotions around what is an often tricky dynamic of parent to child. Obviously when a child is young, they absolutely need to depend on you and your duty is to provide for them.
This is part of why I can never be friends with any man if I find out he has kids that he doesn’t support. I know that if he does that to his own children, I can’t count on him for anything.
It is so difficult to turn away from a loved one in need. But if you do that to the extent that it starts to damage your life or the relationship between the parents of the child, then it’s worth asking yourself: what are we doing and why?
There is a facet of fairness which has to be about proportionality and when people see time or economic resources all pointed towards one person, they can naturally feel resentful towards the recipient and the giver.
The ‘Doing unto others’ idea doesn’t mean you literally do for others what you do for yourself — that’s a ‘golden rule’.
A far more workable solution is the ‘silver rule’ which goes like this ‘don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you’ . . . that’s entirely different.
If you wouldn’t sap your child’s resources to the point it hurt them, then why do you allow it to happen in reverse?
Do you support somebody to the point of dependency? And if so can you be upset when they can no longer stand on their own two feet?
Many families have that one member, the one who just seems to not get a lucky break, who can’t make it on their own, and they often develop into economic out-patients.
By that I mean they become a family member where the parents or other siblings are regularly helping them out of whatever the latest disaster is.
That people do this shows the power of love, but equally, it can also turn destructive. There is a time to grow up once and for all.
Other children may also grow to resent the amount of assistance the one who is getting regular help receives, asking ‘why does my parent or parents always come running for them and not me?’
There is a facet of fairness which has to be about proportionality and when people see time or economic resources all pointed towards one person they can naturally feel resentful towards the recipient and the giver.
That is why I suggest to people in this situation that they try to give the situation an honest appraisal.
Helping your loved ones is admirable, to be encouraged and commended.
But if it goes to far, chances are that you’ve crossed the line into martyrdom. And that is not a good destination, either emotionally or financially.
You will need to learn how to say ‘no’ and ‘no more’. Even though it isn’t easy, it’s the right thing to do.