John Cowan - Helping Your Adult Children

Publish Date
Thursday, 18 May 2017, 9:15PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan


Gidday I’m John Cowan from the Parenting Place

Before you had kids you were dinkies: Double Income No-Kid Couples with lots of money and time and freedom. And then you became sitcoms, Single Income Three-Kid Oppressive Mortgage Families. And that’s where a lot of you are at the moment but you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it doesn’t seems as though the tunnel ever ends these days.  The kids just stay. So you end up as  kippers: Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings. 

But research shows helpin our young adult children is actually good.. A survey showed that young adults who received help in this way tended to have a much better sense of wellbeing. They also tended to end up better off and in better jobs.   One important thing: it has to be help that they actually want: if parents are overbearing or intrusive then that can both wreck your relationship with them and get in the way of them developing.   A good thing: it seems parents are able to judge this well enough.

There are two positive types of support: one is scaffolding: supporting them to build up training or assets to eventually go higher and further in life. It’s an investment. For example, at my son’s graduation, the speaker said research shows my boy’s BA degree will be worth 3 million dollars to him in extra earnings over his career – that makes supporting him at home for a few extra years seem very worthwhile.    The other type of support is providing a safety net: stepping in during set-backs, illness or divorce to stop them falling back too far.

Why should our supportive roll as parents end in their teenage years?  If we give them a longer runway, they will climb higher and fly further. And who wouldn’t want that for their kids?

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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