Comments about ‘Loving kids to debt: Older Americans in trouble for 'helping' children’

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Published: Saturday, April 20 2013 8:35 a.m. MDT

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Twin Sister

This is a sad situation. I believe that part of what contributes to this problem is that those over 50 with adult children have discovered that these children are part of the "entitlement" generation. Many of these children expect their parents to give them anything and everything they want, and they haven't learned to distinguish between wants and needs. Additionally, I know of a few couples in their late 60s and 70s who haven't been able to retire yet because they felt that they "owed" it to their children to pay for their education---both undergraduate and graduate tuition. One couple is now in debt $70,000 because they helped pay for their son's law school. The son now makes a lucative six-digit income and "can't afford" to pay his parents back for any of that tuition they paid on his behalf. Obviously, not only did the parents err in helping their son out, but the son is also irresponsible and entitled.

Salt Lake City, UT

Although this story centers on the problems of parents who do more for their children than they can afford, it triggered a note of gratitude in me because of my very different experience.

I was raised by parents who did all they could for their six children but who had so little, what they could "afford" was miniscule. So, we children never even gave a second thought to the idea of them providing **anything** to us when we were grown. Rather, our mindset was to try and raise enough ourselves that we would be in a position to provide for them. Unfortunately, they both died before the question of how we were to provide for them became much of an issue.

I realize our economy has changed a great deal in the 45-50 years since my "youth". But, remarkably, with all its challenges, most of which are self-inflicted and societal rather than economic, I still see an abundance of opportunity. As hard or easy as it might be, we must do a better job of instilling the idea of independence and self-sufficiency in our children, or doom them to some form of servitude and/or disability.

G L W8

"Entitlement" has become a euphemism for the "I want it now, it's my right!" syndrome. We act like we were sent here to mortality to live a happy life of ease, not learn from life's hard lessons. But the profile is not new--every generation has had its share of loafers and coasters, and parents that encourage it: "I want my kids to have what I didn't" becomes "give 'em anything they want!"

Hayden, ID

Stop rescuing your children. They will never learn about self reliance and being accountable for their choices. In other words, they will never grow up. We have way too many people like that in this country already.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I can relate totally. I've tried to bail out my kids I've learn the lessen about assuming, and what the word makes me and them.

Michael De Groote

I just realized I don't want my parents to read this story. ;-)

Albert Maslar CPA (Retired)
Absecon, NJ

These younger people mostly in their thirties, forties, and fifties, are usually college graduates who should know better but who have adopted non-traditional lifestyles and spending habits, and do not understand that merely having credit is not enough, there needs to be a willingness and ability to repay loans and borrowings. Easy come, easy go, and a dependence on the old folks to feel sorry for the kiddies and continue to sacrifice themselves for their indulgent children is a recipe for disaster, eventually for both.

Salt Lake City, UT

Great article, Mike! (This is Stephan).

I think you would agree that, while Kay and Connie have made significant sacrifices for their adult children (as many parents do), they have also probably done a better-than-average job of trying to find a balance between being perfectly frugal/fiscally responsible and perfectly compassionate/accommodating.

On a number of occasions I have been the beneficiary of my parents' generosity in times of need -- something for which I will never be able to adequately repay them, though I have tried. I hope to "pay it forward", as I am able. In contrast, my sister, who is not remotely self-sufficient and probably never will be, exploits my parents' unwillingness to see her and her young daughter go without the necessities of life. There is a "day of reckoning" coming for her, when our parents will no longer be there to enable her bad financial choices. The sad thing is, her daughter will end up being the victim, because I won't continue enabling my sister's behavior.

Ogden, Utah

I had a neighbor tell me once, that as a Christmas gift, her and her husband were going to pay off their daughter and son-in-law's Nordstrom credit card, which had accrued thousands of dollars in charges.

I suggested that perhaps a better Christmas gift might be a pair of sharp scissors that her daughter and son-in-law could use to cut their credit card into pieces.

I don't think she liked my suggestion.

Huntsville, UT

I hate to have to admit this, but I agree with Mountanman and several of the other conservative's comments on this.

Eagles push their chicks from the nest for a reaon.

Plano, TX

Two words: entitlement and enablers.

Lone Star Cougar
Plano, TX

I wonder if people will see themselves in this article either in the older set or younger set?

orem, UT

Enabling stay-at-home adult children or dependent-on-parent adult children is often a result of parents who need to retain control in their children's lives for one reason or another. It may be because of guilt for not feeling like they were a good parent when the kids were younger or because if they pulled back and let their kids be independent adults the parent's life would be reduced to a marriage that may not be happy. As long as there is a dependent kid (no matter how old) the marriage takes second place.

Often it is easier to wring hands over a dependent adult child and continue to prop them up than face the reality of a miserable marriage or to let the past go. I've seen both reasons play out in my own extended family and everyone looses.


I agree with everything the articles states, but I really wish my parents would've managed their own money better and had the OPTION of helping their children if needed. They are both at retirmenet age now and mostly destitute and will probably end up living with one of us kids which will add a financial strain to a younger family. My primary goal in retirement is to have enough for and my wife and I to live comfortably and have the OPTION of helping our children in times of crisis or emergency. I would never give regular hand-outs to my grown children, but the ability to financially help a child without compromising our own financial position is something I would strive for.

Hayden, ID

@RanchHand. I am honored that we agree!

American Fork, UT

I agree with pretty much everything posted here. I'm working hard to get my kids to own their lives and their decisions, and to learn from them. I'm not being selfish by not taking them on my vacations. I'm living my life. They can own, and live, theirs. That's where dignity lies.

South Jordan, UT

I recently graduated from law school. I am paying for it myself, and will be for quite a while. My parents support me in my decisions, and help here and there, with things like carrying boxes and helping drive a moving truck when I moved for school. I am proud that I am paying for my own education. But, that said, the problem isn't solely with the sense of entitlement. Tuition rates are out of control. In the last ten years, tuition at my law school has almost doubled. And in the last twenty years, it has gone up exponentially (about 15x the cost now than it was 20 years ago). So, before casting all the blame on the generations who seem to think they are entitled, perhaps some of the blame ought to be on the outrageous costs of higher education. I chose my career path, and went in with my eyes open, but the student loan debt load is a problem nationwide.

Wasatch Front, UT


You are right that college costs are going up faster than wages. And there are fewer jobs available at typically lower real salaries when you get out.

These are a couple of asons why it is particularly shameful tat the retirement generation and their lobbiest are fighting against decreases in the social security payment benefit growth rate, or any reductions in Medicare spending. The Boomers will bankrupt this country and many future generates if entitlements are not reigned in.

Elizabeth G
Vancouver, WA

Maybe the reason students expect help with college is because the Federal Government expects parents to help with college. When filling out the FASFA (the form the federal government requires for consideration for college assistance and most colleges require for their scholarships), you must include your parents income information until you are 24 yrs. old. Even if you don't live with your parents or receive any help from them between the ages of 18-23, you must include their income information. The government & college decide your "need" based on that information. If your parents are making great incomes, the students receive little or no aid to pay for college. It doesn't matter if they divorced and kicked you to the curb right after high school graduation.

Bountiful, Utah

My husband is 78 and I am 66 yrs old. My middle son lived with us for a time but paid $700.00 a month for rent. Now my youngest son has been out of work for 10 months and he and his son, 16 yrs old, have been living with us. He moved back to Utah from California about 3 yrs ago and has lived with us all that time. We have incurred about $18,000 in credit card debt during that time. We were debt free before he moved here. We love him to debt I guess. He does much around the house while looking for work such as redoing my kitchen and landscaping my yard and some of that debt is from those things. He does the yard and the snow removal and fixes a lot of things that are needed that my husband cannot do. However, if he doesn't find work soon we don'g know what we are going to do. This economy adds to the problems we older Americans have because there is so little work available for him.I hope something breaks soon for the both of us.

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