"As children grow older, parents must give them greater freedom, including greater freedom to make mistakes. "

Finances and the Bank of Mom and Dad

Question

We have our first child in college. We are giving her a monthly stipend to pay for incidentals. Room, board and tuition are paid for both with money we saved and a scholarship she earned. She also has her own money from working at a part time job both during the semester and in the summer. If she has a true required classroom expense as in an additional book rental, she sends the receipt and we reimburse her for that. She is now saying what we are giving her is not enough. We said we are willing to consider an increase but would like to sit down with her and look at her financials to see where the money is going. She flat out refused to show us her debit card transactions or phone bill and when we asked her if she was aware what her balance was and where her money was going, she literally covered her ears and said she refused to look as that would stress her out. We told her balancing her budget is a skill that will serve her in her adult life and that now is the time to start and that she could meet with us or a financial advisor but that we were not going to throw money at the problem until we had a clear financial picture. Your thoughts?

Answer

Greetings. First, let me give you a standing ovation for teaching your daughter that she must be personally responsible for her expenses. Now to further the teaching moment, you have outlined what will be involved for you to consider increasing the stipend. Just like a bank, you will require the lender to produce certain information so that an informed decision can be made. This adult child just may have to learn by experience that people are not lining up to hand her money at her request. You have already told her what needs to happen. If she is unwilling to come to the negotiating table that will be her choice. Stay away from preaching your point – it has been nicely stated. If she opts to use a financial advisor, the expense should be on her. Meanwhile, you and your co-parent can rest assured that you are being reasonable parents of an adult child.

Gretchen Slover, Psy.D., LMFT
drgretchenslover@gmail.com

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