Helping Adult Children Achieve Independence

According to a recent study conducted by Experian, a national credit reporting agency, 70% of millennial and Gen Z (ages 18-42) participants reported receiving financial support from their parents. Times are undoubtedly tough financially due to higher food, gas, rent, and housing costs. Still, it may be time for parents to use some tough love and have a conversation with their children about reordering priorities.

I recall a friend’s child who, upon completing her college education funded by her parents, was told by her father, “Come to visit often. You are always welcome. But as of today, you are on your own (financially).” Being completely independent was intimidating and came with significant pressure, but despite struggling initially, she landed her first job and eventually found an even better one. Although she shared an apartment with a few roommates, she managed to afford her own place. She continued to work hard and never relied on her parents for financial assistance. Twenty years later, she owns a successful business generating a 7-figure income.

With over forty years of experience working with families and observing what works best, I have found teaching children independence early is one of the most important lessons to learn. On the other hand, if you throw a child a (financial) lifeline, they will grab it and will not let go until you cut it. Unfortunately, some individuals continue to hold on even into their sixties. Because of the dependency, they never truly develop their potential. Often, this characteristic is passed on to the next generation. True potential is often reached through hard work and determination.

Steps to Helping a Child Become Independent

  1. Set a deadline for your child to move out of your home and stick to it. While many parents may allow their children to stay in their home and pay rent, staying at home can make them too comfortable and complacent. Moving out to an unfamiliar environment, finding their own place, and getting roommates can push young adults out of their comfort zones and help them grow.
  2. Set a deadline for ending all financial support. Many parents provide their children with financial assistance for decades, such as paying for auto insurance with the excuse that ‘it’s cheaper if they stay on our insurance’; however, these forms of support can send a negative message that their child can always rely on their parents for financial help.
  3. Buy them a financial consultation. Sometimes parents may not be the best source of financial guidance due to their own financial instability. We had a prospective client with financial resources that barely cover their own retirement insist on continuing to financially support their adult child, which would not be sustainable in the long run. Seeking the help of a financial professional can help your child develop a solid financial strategy and reduce their dependence on your finances both now and in the future. Hiring a third-party professional to meet with your child and help create a transitional financial game plan would be a valuable investment. Here are three resources for hourly financial planning:
    • can help you find members of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors who are fee-only pros who can help with budgeting, etc.
    • – The members of this network are committed to working with clients on an hourly basis.
    • – This resource provides Certified Financial Planners who are legal fiduciaries.

If you are looking for an advisor experienced in basic financial planning and budgeting who is fee-only (doesn’t sell products) and charges hourly, be sure to get a fee estimate in advance.


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professional photo of certified financial planner Stewart Welch wearing black suit and red tieStewart H. Welch, III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including 50 Rules of SuccessJ.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaireand 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch GroupConsult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.



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