I have a lot of conversations in the run of a day with many different people. Commonalities are sure to come up. Anytime money comes up, I’m usually game to talk about it. Last week during an appointment a patient had to answer a phone call from her daughter. The daughter is away for university, all of which, according to mom, she and her husband are paying for. One of moms ”biggest accomplishments in her life” was being able to allow her daughter to attend any school she chose, no questions asked. Her and her husband had worked hard for many years stashing money aside for their daughters impending high school graduation. Though they were sad she chose to move literally across the country, they were able to afford for her to do that if that’s what she wanted.
I have no issues with parents helping with their child’s post secondary education, heck, we contribute monthly to a savings account for our daughter too. While we will save until a max goal is reached, if a main life goal of yours is to 100% fund any desires of your child’s post secondary dream, that’s great too. Where I draw the line is 100% controlling all money.
In this situation, the child has never worked. She’s never earned any money of her own. She knew from day one mom and dad would be paying for school, and focused her efforts on getting good grades, socializing and playing sports. Again, no issues with this at all, if it’s what works for the family, the problem I have is that mom and dad continue to pay all of her bills, at twenty years of age.
If mom and dad want to foot the bill ”100%, no questions asked” (<<their words, not mine), they should at the very least allow her to physically pay the bills. Given that she will be graduating at 22 and have never paid even a cell phone bill, how is this preparing her for the real world? Even if it’s mom and dads money, I’m of the opinion that the money should be placed into, at the very least a joint account, and she should assume responsibility of paying her own rent, utilities and budget her spending money.
During this phone call in my office, mom was writing down the total of her daughters lunch and shopping purchase (which I overheard included a new cell phone). The daughter pays for everything on a credit card, tells mom the total and they pay her balance off. Mom told me ”not to worry” she and her husband could only afford to do this while she was in school, come graduation, she would be ”cut off”.
Sooooo lemme get this straight. Kid is attending a school thousands of kilometers away, all paid for by mom and dad, they pay for all of her bills and she is to rack up a credit card, consequence free since mom and dad pay the balance off immediately? This my friends, is a problem, don’t you think?
When I asked mom why they don’t allow her to manage her own money, by even paying her own rent, she point-blank said, she couldn’t be trusted and would waste the money. Hmm…
Though the parents are trying to help their daughter by paying her way through school, by not giving the child and monetary control they’re doing much more damage than good. I would rather graduated in debt, fumbling my through financial mistakes if it meant I was able to graduate with life lessons learned and my financial head screwed on tighter than the day I started.