Friday, December 23, 2011

The Talk

Cal Poly Pomona

You are an adult, but most likely you do not have total autonomy to do as you wish, because your parents are still calling many of the shots in your life.   How you view this situation, and how you respond to it will help to determine the final outcome of this phase of your life.  If you receive parental financial support I hope you are grateful, because they don’t need to support you any longer.  In fact, all parental legal responsibilities end when children reach age 18.  

 This is can be surprising and a bit scary to hear this, but relax; most parents feel a sense of duty to support their children throughout their lives.  A recent survey by Sun America Financial and Age Wave found that 70% of older adults expect that they will need to help their adult children financially.  I am financially independent, but my parents still do nice things for me as well as for my family. Besides good advice and general loving towards me, my parents are awesome grandparents who enrich my children’s lives by enrolling them in things like art, science, gym and swimming classes.  

 These are gifts and carry no obligation or loss of independence on my part.  Just yesterday, my Dad insisted on paying for dinner when we all went out.  I like to joke by saying, “Dad, you do realize that I DO make money.”  His response is that when he was in my place his parents did the same for him, so I should accept it and be grateful.   He is right, and I plan to do as much as I can for my kids when they are the parents. 
The point I am making is that families tend to be interlinked financially.  This is a good thing and it functions as a primary source of insurance and that is how it is supposed to work (1 Timothy 5:8).  When other areas of support dry up, family is often there to lend a hand, so you should not turn your back on them. Staying connected with your family includes doing some of the things you classify as dumb, because that is what makes them happy.  

 Dr. James Dobson in his book Life on the Edge explains that the power roles will someday reverse to the point where you will be parenting your parents in their old age.  Because of this try to understand that you will be granted more and more freedom and at some point the relationship will move more towards friendship and mentoring, but eventually you will have to pick up the dual role of caring for your children while taking care of your parents.  Some of you can see this now with how your parents interact with your grandparents.  All of this should help you to see that it is all temporary and you shouldn’t get so bent out of shape with the current situation because it will change and all the responsibility will be on you.

We live in California, and if we had an earthquake the rendered our house unlivable, we would probably go live with my sister in law in Kansas.  If there was a tornado there, they would probably come live with us.  Family must be preserved, because of so many benefits beyond the financial.   

Helping family comes natural, even jerks seem to get this, but you will still want to walk away at times.  Resist the urge and be nice.  So as a young adult, don’t reject help from your family just because you want to be independent.  If they want to help, let them help.  The issue is that the money comes with strings, so it makes sense to find out what the strings are.  Then you can decide whether to take the money or not.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could negotiate the strings?  There is a way. Continued Next Post…