Are your adult children still financially dependent on you? Is there no end in sight?

Parents – if you’re subsidizing your dependent adult children consider these steps to really helping them become self-sufficient, motivated and competent.

Do you worry your financial support is hindering your adult child from becoming independent? Are you trying to “cut the cord” (again)?

Contributing money to your adult child is risky. A well meaning hand-up can become a handout. You can develop an adult who lacks motivation, discipline and willingness to earn a living. Working helps build confidence and problem-solving skills that are important for survival and happiness.

Reducing financial dependency may involve painful conversations and decisions. Here are 10 steps to help:

  • Try to see your dependent adult child’s situation from their perspective.
  • Share why you are making these changes. “I’m feeling stressed about money” or “I worry that you won’t learn to be self-reliant”.
  • Be forthright about why you’ve made that decision. That doesn’t mean you have to justify, defend or argue that choice.
  • Set a duration and dollar limit and write it down. State your position as clearly, accurately and directly as possible.
  • Be sure there is agreement by both members of the contributing couple; even if one is a stepparent.
  • Extend or reduce aid based on the actions and accomplishments you feel are important to your child’s independence.
  • Acknowledge that siblings or other family members have been impacted and may feel resentful and angry.
  • If possible, have the dependent adult child give something back in return.
  • Get emotional support if you need it.
  • Be sure to track progress and celebrate achievements. Establish new behavior patterns which reinforce positive changes.

The end is in sight if you take control of this situation. If you are hesitant or afraid to take this step consider working with a counselor to help guide you through the process.

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Your optimism challenge:

Consider if the level of support you are providing to your adult children is negatively affecting your well-being or theirs. If so, what changes can you make?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Share your feedback, questions or comments at

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