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Posted on July 12, 2018 by Christine Crosby in adult child, josuha coleman, money, when parents hurt

How Do I Say No to My Adult Child’s Requests for Money?

How Do I Say No to My Adult Child’s Requests for Money?


Sometimes you have to say no. But, how do you know when you should and when you shouldn’t? In the current environment which says that parents should give, give, give no matter what they get back, it can be pretty darned confusing for parents to know when it’s okay to say to give a good old-fashioned nyet.

The following are provided as some guidelines:

money* Say no if you can’t afford it. Can’t afford it doesn’t mean that you don’t have that much in your checking or savings. Can’t afford it means that it will take away money from savings that you need for other important parts of your life

* Say no if the request is made in an overly demanding or entitled way. This doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t eventually say yes to the request; just that you would provide a little education in the process.

For example, if your adult child rudely tells you that you need to give him money for his car, kids, house, etc. without a hint of affection or humility you should say something like, “Well, I have to say, when you ask like that it really doesn’t make me want to. Which is a shame because I do like giving to you. But, it has to be a request not a demand. I don’t do very well with demands. I’m sure you can understand. Wanna try again?”

* Say no if you’re going to feel too resentful even if you can afford it. If you have tried setting limits or tying the request to a visit and it hasn’t worked, then you should say no for the simple reason that you really damned well don’t feel like it.


Dr. Coleman is a psychologist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-partisan organization of leading sociologists, historians, psychologists and demographers dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. He has lectured at Harvard University, The University of California at Berkeley, The University of London, Cornell Weill Medical School, and blogs on parent-adult child relationships for the U.C. Berkeley publication, Greater Good Magazine.

Dr. Coleman is frequently contacted by the media for opinions and commentary about changes in the American family. He has been a frequent guest on the Today Show, NPR, and The BBC, and has also been featured on Sesame Street, 20/20, Good Morning America, America Online Coaches, PBS, and numerous news programs for FOX, ABC, CNN, and NBC television. His advice has appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London, The Shriver Report, Fortune, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Psychology Today, U.S. World and News Report, Parenting Magazine, The Baltimore Sun and many others.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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