Have you ever had a misunderstanding with your adult child? About money? We hear that a call home from an adult child is about as frequent as a solar eclipse. Texting, maybe, but still. So when our friend, Brenda, saw her daughter’s name pop up on her phone she was thrilled.
It went like this:
Brenda: “Hey, Steph!”
Steph: “Hi, mom.”
Brenda: “How’s it going?”
Steph: “Not so great. Apparently you need to come sign this loan too.”
Steph: “I’m at the car dealership and it’s taking forever, and NOW it turns out I need to wait for you to come sign the loan for my new car.”
Brenda: “New Car? What do you mean new car?”
Steph: “Mom! You know how gross my old car is. It’s nasty and the air conditioning doesn’t even work.“
Brenda: “… yes, but it’s paid for and summer’s almost over.”
Steph: “Seriously? Come on mom. Pleeease? It won’t take long. Just come meet me.”
Brenda: “How are you planning to pay for this car?”
Steph: “I interviewed for another awesome job last week. I’m sure I’ll get it. And I am not going to drive this hunk of junk to a new job!”
What would you do?
Block all future calls?
Drive your late model car down to the dealership to help?
Meet her for lunch to try and talk some sense into her?
Or think, here we go again?
Money Growing Pains
Unspoken or unclear communication about money between parents and an adult child make the situation even worse, because we all hear what we want to hear.
“That was a loan? What? I’m your kid. I thought it was a gift.”
“I didn’t know there was a time limit on when I paid you back!”
If you plan to assist your adult child with financial support, be sure to put it in writing – don’t call it a contract, call it a Letter of Understanding. (Tweet this!) Put the agreement in writing so both parties understand the expectations. It doesn’t have to be a formal contract, but a “Letter of Understanding” serves the same purpose and settles the relationship side of it.
Don’t feel squeamish about it. This piece of paper shows you value your relationship and you want to preserve it. It’s not that you don’t trust them, but you understand that time will pass and memories get foggy.
IF, you decide to lend money to your adult child, try to honor his or her “adultness” with a real agreement so everyone is on the same page.
Do you have questions about money situations with your adult child? We’d love to help. Oh and be sure to take the Money Personality Assessment and find out both of your Money Personalities. Email us at [email protected] or ask us on Twitter or Facebook.
Scott & Bethany Palmer