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Old 08-23-2007, 08:38 AM   #1
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Too helpful

I am trying not to be too helpful to my daughter .In the past I would jump in and try to solve her financial problems now I'm trying to sit back and let her figure them out .It's hard since she's my only surviving child ( her brother died at 32 )and it's also hard since I have the financial ability to do it but I think it's better for her if she figures out these problems on her own since she will inherit the money one day .Any suggestions on how to listen to your offsprings problems but not jump in with solutions?
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:55 AM   #2
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I have no children and thus no wisdom, but I can offer this: my parents bailed my brother out repeatedly and fixed his financial problems when he was in his teens and twenties and he is now 40 with a family and still cannot manage his finances. They did not do this for me, and for that, I am now eternally grateful!
Sarah
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:57 AM   #3
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You don't say how old she is or what kind/amount of help you have been offering, but I always think that simpler is better. Be sure you know what you are and are not willing to do. Have a heads up conversation with her when things are quiet.

It will be hard for both of you. The first few times she falls into the old pattern and your response is different, she will likely get angry. You will have to hold your ground.

"I am sorry you are having such a hard time right now".

"How do you think you can fix/improve/...... or what plans do you have to .....(fill in blank related to the problem)."

"Is there anything that you would like me to help you with to better understand/to develop a plan to fix this situation?"

Once there is progress, you can decide if you want to offer more - here is $X to put toward your student loans/toward that downpayment you are saving for. But then it will be on your terms and not a request or bail.

Best of luck.
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:03 AM   #4
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My daughter is 30 and she doesn't ask for help .She just tells me her problems and I end up jumping in and offering help .I know i need to be able to listen to her problems and take a step back but it's easier said then done.
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:25 AM   #5
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I would just listen to her and help her come up with an action plan....if you solve her problems with giving her money....she will never learn how to stand on her own two feet.
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:27 AM   #6
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Like Sandy said, offer "thought provoking questions". Offer words of wisdom, but not actions. People are better at enacting ideas that they come up with on their own.

When people that I know run into financial problems, it's because they don't see the forest for the trees. Encourage budgeting, having a plan, etc. Encourage more when things don't go as well as hoped/expected -- when the plan falls through, remind her that it was good to have a plan and just because it didn't work this particular time, don't fret.

Inaction is worse than bad action on her part. Maybe that's not the case.

Good luck.

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Old 08-23-2007, 09:43 AM   #7
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After she tells you her problems, why not ask her what she expects from you?

"What do you want me to do?"
"Do you want me to just listen?"
"Do you want me to offer advice?"
"Do you want me to make suggestions?"
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:50 AM   #8
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I have a super hard time with this myself, except it is with the wife. When she wants to talk about her problems, it is my instinct to fix fix fix, finally after a few years I figured out she just wanted me to listen, so I pretty much sit grinding my teeth with clenched fist, trying my best not to fix fix fix.

Totally opposite of me, if I talk about something, I want advice.
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
.Iknow i need to be able to listen to her problems and take a step back but it's easier said then done.
Yep, sure is. It is going to take lots of deep breaths that will buy you the time needed to let you think hard before responding. You can always vent here.


Easy for me to say here. Taking that advice myself, with my kids, is tough, too.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:26 PM   #10
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Part of our reluctance, as parents, to allow our kids to make mistakes is that it's so easy to treat all the mistakes as "fatal". But they aren't... especially financial ones. I have personally proven that most are survivable, given time.

I've been REALLY poor. I've had bad credit. Starting over works, even when it isn't till you're nearly 40. But, damn, it took some serious scrambling and I doubt I would have realized that if I'd been bailed out at every bump in th road.

Now, my oldest graduated magna cum laude from a well known "Tech" back in December. That was after five and a half years. Is he trying to get a job? No. He's decided he will be a science fiction writer. (sigh). We've discussed it and I've told him he needs to get something, ANYTHING, going - even it it's just waiting tables - to get a cash flow started. But... nope. Instead he's living in various spare bedrooms of other family.

If he becomes the next Isaac Asimov I'll be thrilled and remind him how I was behind him all the way.

The point....? Moemg, maybe you could just listen and share with her some of the less than stellar decisions you made on your way to "today". Just let her know she's in good company.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:37 PM   #11
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My older son is 23 and is doing nicely financially but still seems to be looking for approval/advice/assistance in other areas. It's so easy to just take over and do things for him and I have to STOP myself from doing it. There are times when I will literally hold my hands behind my back as a reminder not to do too much or say too much.

I've found that if I keep my distance he steps up and learns to handle whatever it is for himself. He is very competent and capable when he needs to be.

He's never asked for money, but our 20 year old son occasionally borrows. He's a broke college student and his income over the summer has been erratic. He always pays it back as soon as he can. He hates the feeling of being in debt. There have been times when he needed to borrow a larger sum for a purchase (usually audio equipment or a computer) and we write up a simple IOU and he signs it, just so we all know where we stand. There's never any interest involved, no monthly payments required, just periodic payments as he can afford them. So far, those have all worked out fine.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:39 PM   #12
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I've lived a child-free life. But my father had the philosophy that he would pay for our college (because he went through on the GI bill) but after that, nothing. He did offer to loan us money at the market rate.
We were raised knowing this and had no other expectations. I'm continually amazed hearing about parents just giving their grown kids money.
An in-law kept giving money to his three grown kids and they still expect it even though they're in their 30's and 40's. One has just graduated from college (again) and the other two are living in their cars or worse.
Finally he has cut off one son, saying he'd give money only to pay for counseling. The counselor said she'd treat the son only if the father came in for counseling as well, to understand why he had enabled the son's dependency all these years.
So my unqualified opinion (being child-free) is, whatever the problem, ask your kid, "What are you going to do about it?" Until we accept complete responsibility for our own situation, we are not adults. As a woman, I believe this is doubly important for those of our gender to understand.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:39 PM   #13
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Moemg, perhaps it helps to think of the long-term vs. the short.

if you bail her out, than long term you will continue to do so and/or she will continue to make the same mistakes.

it feels like a good quick fix in the short term to "help" - but it's not helping. so if you focus on the long term, you may see it differently?

what are you "feeling" when you have the urge to help her? what goal are you acheiving? You feeling better (not worried/stressed about her)? You feeling like she's not going to drown? How does your daughter benefit?

then map out what your ideal "goal" for her financially would be and focus on that?

good luck! it's hard to see your kid suffer...but if in fact it's not fatal, than you might need to sit back and be able to offer sign posts for the road, but not the ride to her destination...
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:53 PM   #14
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you might need to sit back and be able to offer sign posts for the road, but not the ride to her destination...
Oh, I like that! I may need to embroider that onto a pillow.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:54 PM   #15
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Thanks everybody for all the advice .I just need to listen & not fix . I guess we just want to save our kids from the rough spots that we all went thru but that's what makes us strong .
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:13 PM   #16
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I spent years bailing out my daughter with few exceptions and limits. Now that I have retired, I had the heart-to-heart where I said in a very nice way "the gravy train is over". She was not happy, and after some careful thought told me that she wished I had never bailed her out and that she honestly believed it did her a disservice. Said it would have been better for her to figure it out on her own in retrospect rather than just suddenly being "cut off". She is far from cut off, but to her way of thinking I'm sure it feels that way. Wish I had known that years ago! My retirement coffer would have been much fuller.

You don't do kids of any age any favors by bailing them out. They don't learn anything and they come to depend on it when it happens repeatedly. She was my only child born very early in life so it was difficult for me to change the dynamic between us, but I did it anyway. In addition, she has 4 kids who also depended on me for lots of things. That has changed, too.

This is something that I am going to have to struggle with from now on because I didn't make her stand on her own two feet long ago. Somewhat in my own defense, let me say that there were circumstances beyond the norm. Her husband dumped her and 3 kids, lost the house, the vehicles, etc. She had always been a stay-at-home-mom and had no clue how to make a living. He decided he wanted a girl barely out of her teens instead of my daughter who was his childhood sweetheart so he moved in with this chick. He lost his high-paying job and everything else. Very sad. Anyway, regardless of the reason, I believe the biggest favor anyone can do is make them stand on their own two feet and learn to solve all of life's problems. Pulling out the checkbook too quickly to solve things just doesn't have a good ending based on my experience.

I don't mind hearing about her problems as long as there is no expectation that I am going to fix them. I can't. I can barely handle my own issues, and I owe it to myself to figure out the next 20-30 years of my life rather than continuing to prop up my adult child. I have given and given and given all my life. Now, it is time for me. Does that sound selfish? Probably. But honestly, I can see how I have not taught my daughter or grandchildren anything about living through tough times. I just took care of everything for them.

Have a talk with your daughter to set new boundaries. Then YOU need to follow your own rules and let her take care of herself or fail or fall or whatever happens. Offer advice when asked but otherwise let her be an adult.

Good luck because it is not easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.

TG
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Old 08-24-2007, 12:54 PM   #17
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I'm 27 and have never been bailed out by a parent and I'm better off financially because of it. I have friends who are married but still rely on mom and dad to help out because they can't curb their spending. I think helping out, while done with good intentions, hurts them in the end. People who rely on their parents never learn to manage their finances.

I'll be FI REing in 17 years and I'd never be in the position I'm in if my parents threw money at me whenever I was a bit short.
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Old 08-25-2007, 08:03 PM   #18
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When you jump in to solve her problems, you are sending an unspoken-yet-powerful-message that you don't believe she is competent, or capable of being a fully-functioning adult who can be trusted to live her own life.

This can be crippling, or at least stunt her growth and self-confidence.

You have to learn to "be okay" with the internal discomfort or anxiety that changing this pattern will cause.
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