Some of the articles take a firm position As parents, you have already done your job. The grown child is on his own. The money saved for retirement is not going to be used to solve someone else's problems. Maybe a small loan here and there, but no full scale bailout. You are not going to become a full time babysitter for your grandkids. The house is no longer set up to handle an extra person, or two or three.
The flip side to that is your child needs your help and you are going to provide it. When you became a parent you believe your responsibility doesn't end after a certain age, regardless of the circumstances. You do what you have to do to provide shelter and food, or money for an education or a car to get to work, or whatever. If your retirement savings take a hit, so be it. Family trumps your portfolio.
So, what do you do? Cut the cord and tell the robin to fly, or provide support, both emotional and financial, as long as needed? How much should your own future be adjusted for an adult child?
Here is another toughie. I received an e-mail from a fellow a week or so ago asking for feedback and ideas from readers on another adult child-parent issue. His youngest daughter was into her final year of college. She had done her part by getting scholarships and taking on a rather sizable student loan. Even so, helping her with college tuition put mom and dad further behind each month. Saving for their own retirement had to be delayed and their own debts were increasing.
This couple is within a few years of retirement. They are worried that the financial hole they have dug for themselves means retirement may be just a dream. The fellow's question was a simple one: if you have committed yourself to doing what you must for a child, do you have to accept that retirement is not a likely scenario? Is working well into the future the only option? They willingly helped their daughter and took on these obligations but wonder where they are headed.
These are not easy questions. My last post on the history of retirement noted that when we were a rural society this type of problem rarely arose. Everyone stayed close to home or accepted that each family member was responsible for the well-being of the rest of the family regardless of age or circumstances. That model no longer exists for most of us. Multi-generational living is still the exception rather than the norm.
Do you have any experiences in this area to share? Can you give some solace to the parents who have put their own retirement in the deep freeze for their daughter? Do you have feelings about where and when the obligations of parents ends...if it does? Would the door to your home and bank account be closed or open in a similar situation?