I support my parents financially. Can I have a say in their spending?
Q: I have two children who are 16 and 19. We live together. We don’t have an agreement about money. This made me sad, but I never thought about having an agreement at this stage. What do I do?
A: Having no agreement is a complex matter, not just for the child, but also for the parents – it is better to resolve this before any kind of money commitment is signed. Ideally, you need to discuss your parents’ finances with them in the same way that you discuss your own money with you. If your parents are well-off, you might choose to help them towards their needs – for example, by paying rent. But be careful, as you may be changing your values and should be very careful. Money problems are the leading cause of marriage break-ups.
If your parents are struggling, look at practical ways of helping, and also consider talking to your siblings about their options. Money problems can be the starting point for any kind of conflict in the family. And, as with all conflict, having no resolution is difficult.
If you feel you can not have an agreement before your children start university then try again after this time. When discussing money with your parents you should be more willing to talk about their needs and wants, as well as your own. Financial stress can make a bad situation much worse. You can find help and support on your local area’s Children’s Social Care Teams website (childssocialcare.gsi.gov.uk) or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau (0800 688 2182, so that someone can help you with family disputes).