608. Sending Money

Parents are often in better shape financially than their grown sons and daughters, and they’re often asked to help their adult children with money, or they help without being asked. Parents give their offspring plenty of other kinds of help, like babysitting, advice, and emotional support, but there’s something different about financial help.
I think it’s because of the role money plays in our society. Time, energy, and love are great gifts we can give, and they’re not as complicated as gifts of money. But money is a reality, and sometimes our sons and/or daughters, though appreciating all the other gifts we give, really do want money. And we have to figure out whether to give, how much to give, and how to give.
We can also lend. I, personally, don’t like to do that, because it puts me in the position of having to get people to pay me back. When love and friendship are factors, collecting debts can be difficult. I’ve only loaned money to friends a few times, and I’ve been paid back even fewer times. And I don’t lend money to my daughters; if I help them at all with money, it’s in the form of grants, not loans.
Then there’s the issue of how they use money. We use some of our own money the way we want to and some the way we have to. Of course, there are many shades of grey; we do have to pay some money for living quarters, for example, but we get to decide what portion of our incomes we want to spend on that. When we
give or loan money, the budgeting practices of our beneficiaries or debtors can become issues: are they using the money “wisely” (i.e., the way WE would), or are they frittering it away on “junk” (i.e., the way WE wouldn’t)? I’m not above spending money on things I could easily do without. I’ll bet you aren’t either. But it gets complicated when money we’ve given or loaned is used that way. If you can afford to buy THAT, we may think, do you really need help with money?
Most children in our society get allowance from their parents. I’ve already written about the different ways allowance can be interpreted – as payment for services rendered, as charity, or as welfare payments. There are many ways parents try to teach their children to budget – to save or to spend wisely. But even regarding allowance, parents have to know how to let go; if the money really belongs to THEM, then THEY ought to be the ones who decide how it will be used.
By the time children grow up, they are often used to coming to their parents when they need or want money. On the one hand, they can’t keep doing that; we’re not “MADE of money.” But on the other hand, we don’t want to just push them out of the nest. Because what if it turns out that they really can’t fly?
And so, when parents get messages from their children that say, “Please send money,” those messages can bring up complicated thoughts and feelings.

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