Setting Boundaries: Money

When is it right to give my Adult Children money?

Is it ALWAYS wrong to pay their rent?

Should I pay for a divorce to help get them out of a bad situation?

When will I know I have given too much to my Adult Children?

What if giving gifts is their love language? Then shouldn’t I give money to my Adult Children?

 Why would you give money to your Adult Children? 

Everybody needs help from time to time. I remember when we were adopting two of our children. The attorney’s fees and expenses were adding up. As my stress level increased the bank balance decreased. One day my dad came to visit and left a “welcome to the family” gift for my kids. I was in my mid-30s and had been married for more than a decade. I wasn’t reckless with cash and my husband had a good job–but what a nice surprise.

Life happens. Sometimes our adult children have a life or health challenge. They can’t work and need help with rent, groceries, necessities. How would you feel about helping out?

Or maybe they need help with a new project or venture. Several of our adult children own their own businesses and getting off the ground can be expensive. That seems more of an investment than a hand out, right?

What are some of the limits you have on giving your adult children money? Never? Only for education or business ventures? Would you help with the down payment on a house? Or do you do it like a “dividend pay out: If we have extra we give it to the kids?

Many of our Adult Children have a great education. They also experienced more opportunity than has ever been possible for young adults before in America. Most of us, as parents, made sure that they were smothered in possibilities we never had.

The result: too often our AC now believe that they cannot move forward unless they have ALL the opportunities, education, possibilities to take on a new venture.  They refuse to take risks out of fear of failure or perfectionism.  Their lack of initiative might put them in a financial bind and they end up needing us to bail them out–with cash! 

We have said YES! to some of the requests for financial help with our kids. As I think of those times I am so glad we said yes. The benefits far out weigh the cash expense.

And there have been those times we did not hesitate to say “no, not this time.” I have no regrets about those times either. If we had given the requested help I believe that we would have resented it and felt used.

It takes lots of wisdom and discernment to know where to set the boundary in giving money to our adult children.

There don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about when to say “yes” and when to say “no!” to our kids about money. But communication rules do dictate that every family needs to have rules and guidelines about loaning, giving, forwarding money to our adult children.

What are your family’s house rules concerning money? I would love to hear from you!

Setting Boundaries: The Principle


Why do we need to set boundaries with our Adult Children?

We barely ever see them, shouldn’t we just be HAPPY to have them around?

What if they need me and I am not there?


As young children, our kids knew boundaries kept them safe. They ventured as far as the fence in the backyard, or the neighbor’s house, or the next door woods. As long as they knew where the boundary lay, they felt safe to go RIGHT UP to the line. 


Time, such as bedtime, threw up a boundary.  Teeth brushing, story reading, prayer saying all happened BEFORE the appointed hour.


When they became adults, some of our kids lost sight of the boundaries. Staying up all night at college or wandering far from home blurred the lines that once stood as fences around their time and space. Re-enter the life of Mom and Dad.


When adult children return to the nest, clear guidelines make for happy home life. When a young adult is free to roam with no limits on her freedom she begins to feel insignificant to the home life. Often, parents of adult children believe that their adult children want NO BOUNDARIES to the time they can come and go, money they can spend, or space in the home they can take up. However, if a child was raised with legitimate boundaries in the home and no boundaries remain the person experiences diffidence.  A once boustrous, fun-loving human now becomes sullen and depressed. 



 Remember when your teenager would ask you if she could spend the night with a friend or go to a party only to cup her hand over the phone so the friend couldn’t hear and whisper to you, “Say no! I don’t really want to go?”  The same is true now: your adult child returning home might SCREAM “I wanna be free!” And you must hear, “I wanna be free inside the graceful boundaries you set for me.”

What boundaries do you set for your adult children? In the next few weeks we want to talk about boundaries of our time, our money, our space and how all this relates to our Adult Children. I would love to hear some success stories (and even a nightmare or two) of the boundaries you have set with your Adult Children.  

Setting Relationship Goals with your Adult Children

Do you set New Year’s goals?

Gonna lose weight?

Gonna earn more money?

Set a goal to improve your relationship with your adult children. Here are four simple tips: 

  • Setting relationship goals with our adult children is not a one size fits all proposition. The way I treat my eldest son is very different from the way I treat my youngest daughter. However, I can improve both relationships. I need to set goals to connect with both of them in 2019. Thinking of their love languages helps me connect uniquely with that adult child. 
    • We often speak our own love language to our adult children and can’t figure out why don’t feel loved. Be curious in knowing their love language. (See my previous blog posts on that topic explaining each love language and how to speak it to your adult child!)
    • As parents to adult children we leave the past in the past. Regardless of how rebellious they were as teens or the crazy antics they performed as adolescents–we approach them as adults now.
  • Time ALONE with our adult children pays big dividends in terms of insight and info. Although as teens they may have run from us, while pursuing other relationships, as they mature they want more time with us. And what do we do with the time? We listen–more curiosity needed. We remove the judgmental filters that cause us to think, “Well, that’s dumb. Why do you think that?” I often told my teen daughters, “You are not held accountable for what you DO NOT SAY!” I take my own advice often now.
  • Can you be interested in what they are interested in? Can you listen to them talking about what they are engaged with now? One of our daughters is in school so Ted and I are back in school. One son loves to talk about cars–so we listen about cars.  Building a relationship means building interest in their interest.
    • We tune in to their intellectual and emotional wavelength. We engage them in THEIR LIFE not ours. We must get to know THEM.  Recently someone gave me the great compliment, “You are a student of your kids.” Yep, I work at knowing them. 
  • Noah St. John suggests, we ask to improve the relationship with two questions, “On the scale of one to ten where do you see our relationship?” When the person answers anything less than 10 your next question is, “What can I do to make our relationship a 10?” Then LISTEN and take action on what your adult child suggests.

We CAN improve our relationship with our adult children. Like ALL goals this one will take a PLAN and WORK! But what is more important? As we all know, the most important things in life are not things at all. 

Happy New Year.

What are some goals you have for your relationship with your adult children this year? I would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments below!

Lowering Expectations

One sure way to increase happiness this holiday is to lower the expectations you have for others to perform.

Relationships can make any holiday tough, especially when your Adult Children are juggling their time between you, other relatives, and their new adult friends.

When we are tempted to self-pity or sadness about our lack of time with our adult children we have to remember:

We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions during this holiday season to be more peaceful and unifying.


This is fourth in a series on: Putting More Happy in our Holidays! 

The goal this week:

acceptance vs. expectation.


If you had a time machine, what is the one suggestion you would go back and share with your 30-year-old self? 

My first answer to that question is EASY:


The memories that make me cringe are ALWAYS the ones where I allowed my emotions to get away from me because I had set the expectations TOO HIGH!


As a  high achieving family, our STRIVE for Excellence sometimes spilled over into our holiday planning.  OF COURSE, we thought we could make a four hour car trip, visit three sets of parents and grandparents, feed the kids WAY too much sugar and expect them to act like ANGELS in front of the relatives!

Naturally, I thought I could keep the girls up cooking until midnight, the boys up to the same hour loading the presents and expect everyone to roll out of bed with a happy face the next morning to start the trip to the grandparents.

Sarcasm can’t even make those disastrous holidays sound better: they were nightmares waiting to happen. 

The phrase, “shoot yourself in the foot” was invented for me during the busy overachieving years. 

I had to learn the harsh truth: I was going to disappoint someone during the holiday. Aunt Betty would surely not understand if we didn’t make it to the Christmas party two hours away during the work week. But otherwise, I was REALLY disappointing my kids and husband by being such a GROUCH! 

And now…I have to give grace to my 30-year-children like I wanted someone to give grace to my 30-year-old self.


Although I would love to bake cookies with, wrap gifts with, and basically just BE WITH my adult children for hours during the holiday, I cannot expect all this from them. 

I have to be realistic and extend the kind of grace to them that I needed: I must want them to enjoy the time we have together without compromising their own holiday happiness!

If I can focus on the child(ren) right in front of me (and not the ones who are absent) and enjoy every moment I am with that child, then I can let the unmet expectations melt like snow on a sunny day.

AND we will ALL have a happier holiday.

Juggling Family During the Holidays!


Relationships can make any holiday tough. Especially when your Adult Children are juggling their time between you, other relatives, and their new adult friends. We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions during this holiday season to be more peaceful and unifying. Let’s work together to put more “happy” in our “happy holidays.”


Juggle commitments–not relationships

I don’t think it is fair that they never spend Christmas with us. They always go to her family!

Why should we have to share them during the holidays? The other side of the family never even visits them.

I can’t believe she is spending Christmas with her friends instead of her family! What did we do wrong? 

Often heard over Christmas ham and potatoes

For young families, Christmas holidays are SO SHORT and the opportunities so numerous our calendars and schedules are full before we REALLY get time to think, “How do I want to spend this time?” 

I remember when Ted and I had young children and he served in a growing suburban church. Every Sunday School class had a Christmas party starting December 1 and filled the calendar until December 22! Some nights there were two or three events to attend including Christmas pageants and children’s choir performances. It was no wonder that by the time Christmas Eve came around one or all of the family had the flu! 

Some days we can’t  remember the days that we BEGGEd for a quite moment! 

As the children grew and started having parties and events of their own, our life reached a normal rhythm where we could survive without a trip to the ER. Now, we may even have four or five nights in a row with no obligations.

Yippee! More time to do the kinds of things we dream of for the holiday–cocoa and Christmas carols. Maybe even a Hallmark movie! But does that sentiment make you nostalgic? Are you longing for the “good old days” that almost made you crazy?

Are you longing to be the only one planning your children’s holiday plans?

Recently, I confessed to my husband that I wanted to wave my wand and have all the kids home for Christmas without  any “sharing.” 

“You mean like you did at Thanksgiving?” He is such a smart-mouth. Yes, exactly like I did at Thanksgiving!  (That wasn’t even TOTALLY accurate, two of the eight kids couldn’t return this year!)

Time to be an adult about our adult children

Of course, we can’t REALLY be greedy with our married children–their “other family” deserves to enjoy them at the holiday as well–at least that is how we want to be logical and ADULT in our thinking!

We are blessed to have adult children that others WANT to be around.

The friends and extended family can’t wait to be with our kids because they are so relaxed and comfortable to be around. Our adult kids make others feel better just by walking in the room–of course people want them for the holiday. 

This year I am going to juggle my schedule. I am going to juggle shopping, parties, cooking, and decorating. And when I MUST  juggle my people, I am going to CELEBRATE them for the amazing humans they are when I get to see them.

Obviously, pecan pie can’t cure everything–but it is a good start! 

And when I think about not having them as often as I wish–I am going to eat enough pecan pie to wash that bitter taste out of my mouth and spirit !


This is a series on how to survive the disappointments that come to our adult children. I would love your feedback and insight with ideas on how YOU have survived and helped your children survive. These are the topics in the series:

  • Disappointed by an untrustworthy friend?
  • Disappointed in a job situation?
  • Disappointed in academic possibilities?
  • Disappointed in marriage? 
  • Disappointed with infertility?
  • Disappointed with rebellion from their children?




Recently one of my daughters shared her HUGE concern with me about her middle child’s rebellion. About three weeks before our conversation, the four-year-old began having temper fits and crying melt-downs every day.  Mom’s request to, “wait till after lunch for gum,” was met with over an hour of crying while following Mom from room to room.



When our children rebelled as teens we took whatever means were available to stop the behavior. Many of us took away privileges and privacy from the would-be rebel. Some of us resorted to counselors and therapists for the period of rebellion, but watching your adult child struggle with her daughter is different:

you don’t control the situation in ANY way.





The only thing you can control when your Adult Child’s child is rebelling is your own ATTITUDE…and this is often difficult. 

When another daughter’s 20 year old wrecked havoc in their home by destroying property and refusing to either stay in school or get a job, I was HELPLESS, frustrated, and a bit panicked.  The only thing I could do was set the emotional tone:

  • Model calmness and control
  • Never put down your adult child in her parenting role
  • Do not side with the rebel
  • Don’t give ultimatums or “if that was my child” statements
  • Lead with love and kindness for both parties

Seasons of rebellion, like diapers, can seem endless.



Pray for long-suffering attitudes of peace and kindness.

Are you dealing with rebellious grandchildren and parents who are clueless and approaching hopelessness?

Drop your comments below and receive our


“10 Commandments of Overcoming Anger.”





Next up: Special Holiday Blogs

Relationships can make any holiday tough. Especially when your Adult Children are juggling their time between you, other relatives, and their new adult friends. We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions during this holiday season to be more peaceful and unifying. Let’s work together to put more “happy” in our “happy holidays.”

Topics include:

  • Exhibiting Gratefulness: Even if Yesterday was Sad
  • Family Traditions: How to Keep Them when the kids are grown
  • Juggling Family During the Holidays
  • Lowering Expectations During the Holidays
  • Focus on Today: No Holiday Pity-Parties
  • Setting Goals for Being a Better Parent to Your AC


This week is the fourth in a  of nine week series entitled


Hopefully, this dialogue will occur between myself and other parents of adult children!


Leaving home is never easy for mom and son.

When Scott left for boot camp I had HUGE fears because of the war in Afghanistan as well as some strain in our relationship. Our separation transitioned our relationship from a confused mother of an angry son to an empathetic mother of a open-hearted son ready to have his dad and I investing in his life.


When I dropped off John at college for the first time, I cried so hard that the man on the plane next to me asked which relative had passed away.  The flight attendant offered to bump me to business class so I could “be more comfortable” (read that as “move to a place where you can cry alone”).  


Obviously, I recovered from John’s departure to college, but the memory still reminds me of the emotion of that initial departure.

Parents can make leaving home a little easier by doing hard things in advance.

This  is culminated from a lot of moms who have launched kiddos to college or to another city to work  ) : 

  • Talk about how “adulting” changes your relationship
    • Do not act like this is NOT A HUGE change. This is information sharing. Put it on the table.
    • What decisions will you make together?
    • What decisions will the adult child make on his/her own?
      • Will the child make decisions about health or will you? (Are you going to keep tabs on their eating or sleeping? I know some parents whose kids have had health issues who are very stressed about the student’s health concerns.)
      • Will the child make spiritual decisions? (Can s/he skip church and still receive your support? Has the child been spiritually growing or stagnant? How willing are you to let this area go? )
      • Will the child make financial decisions? Does s/he have a job for spending money that is TOTALLY at his discretion or is some of that cash for eating, housing, expenses?

When our Nikki got a loft with a friend after college she made TONS of friends, learned about life, and only OCCASSIONALLY ran out of money!


  • Establish a regular time/form of communication.
    • Do not expect to talk every day.
    • Establish the frequency you want to hear from your child.
    • Establish the form of communication you are comfortable with–do you like to text? Instagram? Maro Polo? Talk on the phone? What’sApp?
    • DO IT BEFORE THEY LEAVE! How many ways can I say, “set your expectations OUT LOUD!”


Will your adult child have the freedom to experience financial independence or will you be monitoring that aspect? What happens when they run out of money?


  • How much freedom will the child have?
    • NO ONE HAS COMPLETE FREEDOM: no child, no parent.
    • Define the freedoms and PLAY THIS UP!!! Let them know you trust them with freedom–do not focus on the limitations.
    • Are you going to know where they are constantly? like an app? like Life360? Mama Bear or GeoZilla? Find my Friends? All of these safety apps help you locate your family or friends round the clock to protect them. Some young adults will find this intrusive and others will see it as a way to keep up with each other without having to communicate every day.


  • Explain the benefits and consequences of all these freedoms. What are your responses going to be if the child violates a freedom? (What if she is caught drinking at 18 years old?) What will be your response? LET YOUR CHILD KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT! NO SURPRISES! 


  • Make an ideal budget and talk about REAL numbers (this didn’t happen till our last one!)
  • Create a contract style agreement that establishes under what circumstances you will continue to support them (if you are going to continue to support them!) Ted had all our adult children sign a contract after their eighteenth birthday if they were still being supported by/or living with us. This left no room for surprises when it was time for rewards or changes. 

What were some ways you helped your adult child adjust to college, the military, or a new job life? Share your victories and those other times as well…