3 Ways to Stop Enabling Your Adult Child

According to the latest census data, more than half of people aged 18 to 24 live with their parents, and roughly 13% of adults ages 24 to 35 do as well. While many of these young people are hard-working individuals, trying to save money to pay off school loans, buy a house, or start a business, some are simply children who remain dependent on their parents, unmotivated to live life on their own. These children, though they may not mean to, can become emotionally and financially draining on their parents.

Here are three warning signs you may have children who are too dependent on you, and three ways you can stop enabling them.

Red Flags

1. You are Responsible for Them

If you find yourself shouldering your adult child’s responsibilities, and he or she is perfectly happy to let you do it, you may have a problem. If your child is non-productive while you take on a second job to pay off his or her debt or pay his car insurance, it may be time to have a talk.

2. Your Child is Constantly Borrowing Money from You

It’s perfectly fine to financially help out your adult child every once in a while. But if your son or daughter is constantly borrowing money from you because they can’t seem to hold down a job, and if they constantly promise to pay it back but never do, this is a red flag.

3. You are Often Disrespected

Young people who are struggling to find their place in the world and start their own life are often moody.. But there is a fine line between a bad mood and blatant disrespect in your direction.

Does your son or daughter seem respectful and even loving when they want or need help from you, and then become disrespectful or passive-aggressive should you say “no” to their requests? Though you may want to give them the benefit of the doubt and pass off this behavior to those bad moods, this is a warning sign that your child is too needy in your direction.

Encourage Independence

It’s important that you encourage your child to be independent. It’s equally important that you remain upbeat and avoid being adversarial when talking with them. Calmness yet firmness will go a long way in setting healthy boundaries in the relationship.

1. Agree on a time limit

Sit down with your child and discuss an exit plan. Yes, they may stay but only for an agreed upon amount of time.

2. Have them contribute

Having no financial responsibilities while living with you will not help your adult child prepare for the real world. Ask your son or daughter to contribute to the monthly expenses. If they are currently unemployed, ask them to do chores like gardening, grocery shopping, or cleaning.

3. Don’t indiscriminately give money

Borrowing money to get on their feet and make a car payment is one thing. But you cannot continue to give your adult child money forever. You may lend money with the understanding it should be paid back.

Sometimes, having a heartfelt discussion with your son or daughter can be difficult. At times like these, it’s often helpful to have a family therapist, a neutral third party, guide the discussion and make sure everyone is heard.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

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