As a consumer bankruptcy attorney I frequently find myself advising clients who need bankruptcy relief because they have taken on the burden of not only their own debt but also debt incurred for their adult children. Of all the folks I try to help, this is oftentimes the most heartbreaking client. I know the client has found themselves in financial turmoil because of love for their child and it is hard, but necessary, to advise the parent to stop this behavior in order to find financial solutions.
Many news articles have been written on this topic of “tough love.” Most interestingly, a parent’s act of taking on the burden of their adult child’s debt appears motivated by two directions. The parent wants to shield the adult child from the struggles they remember as a young adult which is easy for us to understand. More difficult for me is the motivation of the adult child to seek such help from the parent. It has been described as “emerging adulthood.”
This concept reflects the young adult’s fear that “growing up and moving out – permanently – means downgrading your lifestyle.” This is tough to say, parents, but you are doing your children no favors if you are not allowing them to learn the financial lessons necessary to become productive members of our society. “It is vital for parents to instill the importance of financial savviness in their children from an early age and steer them towards financial independence while offering support where needed.”
Young Adult and Home Ownership
One significant statistic is this: in 1996 the percentage of young adults becoming first time home buyers was 68%; in 2015 that percentage had decreased to 46%. If we consider the importance of home ownership to the U.S. economy, this is an alarming trend. Buying of new homes means more new homes being built. More new home construction means more jobs for our economy. Home ownership has been a driver of our economy since the 1950’s. When young adults are forsaking or delaying buying a home, this has a real impact on our economy and a real impact on the young adult’s opportunity for viable employment. Finally, here is the last point I will make on this difficult topic. At some point in the future, the parent will pass away and there will no longer be anyone for the adult child to look to for financial bailouts. It is better to initiate tough love now so that the child you love is in position to care for themselves when you are no longer here to do so.
If you find that you are in possible need of bankruptcy relief and wish to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney about your options, please contact one of our locations nearest you in Alabama, Mississippi or Tennessee for a free, confidential consultation.
Carla M. Handy is the Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Gadsden and Anniston, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law. She has been helping families navigate consumer bankruptcy cases since 1994.Read her full bio here.