Lifetime provider: Many parents still provide for their adult children

  • Family
  • Thursday, 15 Feb 2024

It can be difficult to prepare a child for financial independence, even when they reach adulthood. — AFP

IT’S often assumed that young people are eager to gain their independence. But many of them continue to live with their parents for lack of financial means. This phenomenon is gaining considerable momentum in the United States, as a recent survey reveals.

The figures speak for themselves: 32% of Americans continue to support their child(ren) financially beyond the age of 18, according to a survey by Qualtrics for Intuit Credit Karma, among 1,249 Americans over the age of 18. Responses were collected between Nov 20 and 26, 2023.

This support, the survey reveals, takes different forms, but in most cases it concerns housing and daily living expenses. Thus, 64% of parents continue to house their offspring. Around half of them pay some or all of their adult child’s monthly bills (telephone, public transport, food, etc.) to prevent them from falling into financial hardship or even into debt.

Some 23% give them pocket money so that they can manage their budget as they see fit.

Whether they come from modest or privileged backgrounds, the majority of parents surveyed feel it is their duty to support their children even when they have grown up.

Others do so because of the high cost of living (42%), the difficulties young people face in entering the job market (33%) or rising property prices (23%).

Mental and financial strain

Whatever the reason, Americans recognise that this helping hand is far from trivial. Most of them confide that it has an impact on their personal finances (76%), and even forces them to cut back on current expenses (52%).

Generally speaking, 38% of parents who help their adult child financially think that it impacts their own lifestyle.

For some, however, the consequences are far more alarming. A third of those surveyed said it had driven them into debt.

Some have stopped contributing to their retirement savings plans, or delayed their retirement to provide for their grown-up child.

The survey reveals that young adults’ dependence on their parents can also become a source of suffering. Nearly 60% of parents surveyed said it caused them mental stress, and 62% financial stress.

These figures show just how difficult it can be to prepare a child for financial independence in economic circumstances that make striking out on one’s own so difficult.

Some young people use this situation as an excuse not to grow up, while others experience it as a real failure. Parents are sometimes just as ambivalent: they secretly dread their child’s departure from the family nest, even if their offspring’s lack of independence weighs heavily on them.

Still, it’s important to remember that providing for a child isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t keep them in a situation of dependence. – AFP Relaxnews

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