How to Deal With Mooching Adult Children

If you make excuses for your son not being able to find a job, you're simply allowing -- and encouraging -- his mooching off you to continue.
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These days, it seems to take longer to raise children to independence. A May 2011 report by the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University says that young adults are extending their years in college, earning 10 percent less than people who graduated before 2009 and facing even higher levels of unemployment than the rest of the population. With these conditions in place, many parents extend the years of dependency or offer financial support to help their kids out.

You want your child to do well and succeed in life, and it's tempting to think you can help them along that road by continuing to support them until they get on their feet. But what happens when that day doesn't come? When the temporary solution becomes a fixed habit, you've got a problem on your hands. Here are some tips and strategies for dealing with mooching adult children.


How to Deal with Mooching Adult Children

Unfortunately, dealing with mooching adult children involves a complex web of emotions that extends throughout your relationships. While you (and possibly the grown kid) could experience a simmering stew of guilt, hope, denial, worry and disappointment, your friends and other relatives feel frustration that the moocher is taking advantage of you. Here are some steps you can take to temper the emotional hurdles and begin to put a stop to the mooching:

  • Examine your own finances. A hard bottom line can help take emotion out of the picture.
  • Understand that emotional support and guidance are as valuable as financial support.
  • Get a team or support group on your side. Either can help you stand firm on ending the mooching.
  • Look at your own behavior. Are you sending the message that you think your child isn't capable of taking care of him or herself?

You may actually be an unconscious partner in the mooching, enabling your adult child's dependency. Keep reading to learn how to stop being an enabler.


Stop Enabling Mooching Adult Children

Successful parenting means raising your kids to be healthy, independent adults. Like it or not, dealing with a mooching adult child means making more hard parenting choices. Like other phases of parenting, you'll have to adjust your thinking and behavior. Your child won't be an independent adult until you make him climb down from the parental money tree.

First, figure out what you're doing that enables the mooching -- and stop it. Second, don't make excuses for your kid's neediness. Coddling and excuses encourage dependency; they'll never help your child stand on his own feet financially. Finally, learn to say no. While it may not seem like it at first, making your adult kid pay his own bills and living expenses could be the kindest thing you ever do -- for him and for yourself.


Want to Jimmy off your couch and on his own? Follow the steps on the next page to help your mooching adult child become self-sufficient.

Help Adult Children Become Self-sufficient

Set a firm deadline of when you'll be cutting off support to your adult kid and regularly communicate your expectations to him or her.
Š Jackson

Do you feel guilty about cutting your child off? Don't. Self-sufficiency is rewarding and highly desirable. Here's how you can help your grown kid achieve it:

  1. Expect your child to become self-sufficient and communicate that expectation. This will spur each of you to actively work toward the goal.
  2. Help your adult child develop a budget to live within his means, not yours.
  3. Set deadlines. Let your kid know that on X date, you'll stop paying the bills.
  4. If your child wants to move back in with you -- or is currently living with you -- make it clear you'll help for a limited time, such as three months. Stick to it, and periodically remind him of the goal date so it doesn't sneak up.
  5. Give your child duties and responsibilities while living with you. Your goal is twofold: to help him save money for a fresh start and to make him want to move out.

Getting your mooching child to live independently takes work, but it's a wonderful feeling for everyone when the grown-up kid in question realizes that he can take care of himself.


See the next page for lots more information on parenting adult children.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Ameriprise Financial. "Money Across Generations Study." 2007. (June 6, 2011)
  • Blumenthal, Karen. "Helping Kids Fend for Themselves." The Wall Street Journal. June 5, 2010. (June 1, 2011)
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "Seniors face 'sons in the basement' syndrome." Dec. 3, 2007. (June 1, 2011)
  • Cancino, Alejandra. "Recent college graduates earn less than those who graduated before the recession." Los Angeles Times. May 20, 2011. (June 2, 2011)
  • ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. "Are Baby Boomers Financially Spoiling their 'Kids?'" (June 6, 2011)
  • Dr. Phil. "How to Deal with Your Mooching Child." (June 1, 2011)
  • Griffin, Greg. "Unemployment rate for young people highest in decades." The Denver Post. Dec. 22, 2010. (June 6, 2011)
  • Pacella, Sherry. Experienced parent and businesswoman. Telephone interview. June 7, 2011.