Money Is Love - Oh, Oh...Strings Attached

Do you give slip a twenty to your daughter when she comes over for dinner because you know she's not making much money?  Has your adult son just moved back home and you're not charging him rent? Do you bail your family out when they can't pay their bills, despite the fact you're not rich? These are all examples of financial enabling, "a need to give money to others, whether you can afford it or not,"  and believe me, it's not in the other's best interest. (Klontz & Klontz, Mind Over Money)

Money equals love, right? Financial enablers, like those that enable someone with an addiction problem, are trying to help, but in fact creating dependency and powerlessness. Because of the economy, this is a growing problem. The longer your daughter  is bailed out, the tougher it becomes for her to deal with her financial helplessness, self-esteem challenges or lack of job-training and to solve her own problems.  I know this territory. I'm the oldest of three and I have financially enabled both my brother and sister in the past around their substance abuse issues. No more, but I really understand where the desire to help comes from.

Often the person helping gives or loans money with strings attached - "Come for dinner, I'm just asking you to stay in touch, Could you can do ____ (this) for me? (And, if they don't resentment builds or builds anyway.) "I'm paying your rent, you need to get a job or stay sober. All very murky territory.

The underlying issues with financial enabling (according to Klontz & Klontz) are that money equates with love. Or, parents feel guilty about poor parenting and are trying to make up for it with money now. Children learn to take the easy way out because that's what's allowed. They manipulate the system.

If you're ready to help those family or friends in a more constructive way first realize your giving money does more harm than good. You're disempowering and creating dependency. Two: The first step will need to come from you - Sit down and talk to your family members. Let them know you've made a new decision and give them a time frame for change. For example, if you're paying rent or they're living with you - say gently: "You have 6 months to find a job, save enough money and get your own place. You'll have to find another place to live at that time." Set the limit and keep it. (Yes, I know it's painful, but remember you're helping by cutting the dependency and trusting they will be ok.)