Helping Your Adult Children With Tough Issues

Updated on August 1, 2019

Your kids are grown, out of the house, and likely have families of their own, but your role as a parent never ends. As your adult children pave their own ways in life, there are bound to be pitfalls along the way. It is during those times that they seem to cling to their parents the most. As it is in a parent’s nature, of course, you want to be there to see them through. 

What must be understood, however, is that your children are adults. Therefore, you cannot demand or coddle them through their ordeal. This not only tarnishes the relationship you have but can spill into your personal life. 

So how do you help your adult children with tough issues without enabling them or hurting yourself? It can be tricky, but below is a bit of advice. 

 Hear Them Out

When your child comes to you wanting to talk about their problems, listen to what they have to say. You may have already picked up on some signs or even have some opinions yourself of what should be done and how they ended up where they are, but listening is key. Sometimes, all they need is a sounding board to vent. 

Consider the Circumstances

Now that you have heard what they have to say, consider the circumstances. Why? Well, the circumstances can tell you right away whether or not this is something you can help your child with or something they must allow life to teach them a lesson on. For instance, when the issue is something that couldn’t be avoided like a car accident, house fire, or a layoff, you might reach out to help your child with such matters. However, if your daughter has a habit of spending her money, falling behind on bills, and then asking you to dig her out of the hole, perhaps it would be best to allow her to learn from her poor choices. 

Know When it’s Beyond Your Expertise

You want nothing more than to help your kid, but there are things in life that, unfortunately, you cannot fix. It is important to realize when this is happening and guide your child in the right direction to get help with your support. For instance, if your child is struggling with substance abuse, you can’t hide it, keep making excuses, or continue to fund their abuse. You must point them to rehab centers like Reflections Recovery to get detox assistance and therapy. Parents have a lot of power, but curing addiction isn’t one of them. So, be there for moral support as your child takes the necessary steps towards sober living. 

Be Mindful of Giving Out Money

Everyone needs a helping hand on occasion when it comes to finances. So, it’s only common for mom and dad to get asked periodically for assistance. That being said, be mindful of giving your adult children money. While helping them out of a jam is certainly okay, if it is a repeat occurrence, it could get out of hand and cause you to fall into debt.

Also, when lending money to adult children, be sure that you set up clear guidelines for repayment and stick to it. Yes, you want to help them but you don’t want to bankrupt yourself in the process – especially if you’re retired or living on a fixed income. 

It’s Okay to Say No

You love your kids so much that you would do anything for them, but when helping is going to cause more harm than good (to you or your family), then it’s best to say no. Sometimes tough love is the only route to take for your adult children to realize how their decisions impact their futures. Other times, it simply isn’t within your means whether physically or financially to help out. You can love your kid and still tell them that right now, the only help you’re able to provide is a lending ear or a shoulder to cry on. They may be upset initially, but in the end, they’ll understand and grow from it. 

When your child is going through a difficult time, helping is what a parent does best. Just make sure that you pitching in to “save them” won’t end up for the worst. You don’t want a ruined relationship, to be bankrupt, nor do you want to hinder them from becoming the amazing person you raised them to be. The above advice will make it easier to support your children through this crazy thing we call life.   


Senior Outlook Today is your go-to source for information, inspiration, and connection as you navigate the later years of life. Our team of experts and writers is dedicated to providing relevant and engaging content for seniors, covering topics such as health and wellness, finances, technology and travel.