Parents As Resources for Adult Children

When I was a young adult, fresh out of school, my desire for separation from my parents was fierce. I was stubbornly determined to live independently. Now that I am the parent of adult children, I am beginning to understand at least some of the reasons Mom and Dad offered what they did. It’s just a darn shame they are both gone and I can’t talk to them about my revelations.

Four things I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn about:

Money for wedding or future use?

When my spouse and I married, my folks offered a fairly significant (back then anyway) sum of money – along with a choice – I could spend it on the wedding and reception, or I could put it away for future use (down payment on a house, savings, investments, etc). I, of course, chose to spend it on the wedding.

What I know now: They were probably presenting me with a test to see how I would handle lumps of money. I’m sure I disappointed them and probably would have received additional beneficial lessons on finances if I had chosen the other course of action.

Did your parents test the waters with your money management skills at a young age?

Great deal on a house.

Mom and Dad bought their first home when I was born. It had 4 rooms (kitchen, living room and 2 bedrooms) no bath, coal stove for heat and no running water. When I was 7 they bought a bigger house and we moved, but they kept their starter and rented it. When I was in college they bought an even bigger house and moved again, but kept both of their prior houses.

A bit after I married, Dad decided to get out of the rental business. He sold the second home and he and Mom offered my spouse and I the little one at a bargain basement price, with seller financing. What a great deal! But would I take it…. nooo. My spouse and I were into a brand new apartment complex with a pool and I didn’t a) want to be obligated to my parents or b) live in the house I had lived in as a child. Once again, I’m sure I disappointed them.

What I know now: Mom and Dad were eager to share their resources with us and were probably hoping to keep their first home in the family.

Have you ever let your pride stand in the way of letting family help you?

Failure to consult

During a stint in the Army, my spouse was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. We lived off base in a rented house. The country side there is in the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozarks and we decided to buy some raw land.

Dad came from a long line of farmers, and he and Mom had conducted multiple real estate transactions. It would have been logical and practical for us to consult with them prior to making this raw land purchase, but we didn’t. We didn’t even think about doing so. When he saw the property, his first question was – are you going to live on it? It did have a couple of dilapidated buildings with zero services (except a well). I guess he was thinking that it might be an acceptable purchase if we were going to live on it, but otherwise raw land is not a real money maker. We never did live on that land or develop it. Many years later we were able to sell it for next to no profit – after adjusting for inflation.

What I know now: If we had discussed the purchase with Dad and Mom prior to making it, they would have clued us in to the fact that raw land is usually a raw investment deal.

Are you afraid to consult with your parents on a decision?  If so, why?

Failure to Consult – AGAIN

Finally out of the Army, we moved to the big city and lived in another apartment with our new baby for 5 years. What took us so long you ask? Well, the money we could have used as a down pay had been paid down on that raw land! We scouted around and found a home we could afford and charged right ahead with the purchase, again failing to consult with either set of parents. As we proudly showed off our new purchase and shared what a bargain it was, Dad’s comment was that the neighborhood was probably not the best (of course he used more colorful terms!).

We lived in that home for 10 years, watching the neighborhood degrade around us. Fortunately we were able to sell, once again with little or no profit after adjusting for inflation.

What I know now: Parents really should be used as a resource – just get past yourself and let them advise!

How do you feel about accepting gifts and/or advice from your parents? Do you feel like they would try to control you if you did?


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