When to Stop Financially Supporting Your Adult Child -- Ask Noah

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- An honest and heartfelt conversation becomes essential when you think it's time to stop financially supporting your capable son or daughter.

Q: I'm a successful financial analyst with a challenging 25-year old son, pursuing a career as a painter. He's a brilliant kid who went to an excellent school, but has had meager job opportunities since graduating. It's evident that pursuing any jobs, even a supplemental part-time job, has taken a backseat to his art. While I've always encouraged him to follow his obvious artistic talent, his disdain for pursuing his own income upsets me greatly. I love him very much, but at present I'm fully supporting him. Please help me to navigate my frustration!
How much longer are you willing to be your son's complete financial provider?

I can fully appreciate the frustration of feeling taken for granted. You must be asking yourself why you aren't feeling appreciated or respected. You may also feel a need to convince him or change his thinking. However, you owe it to yourself to remember that you cannot control your son's choices, actions or beliefs. You can only make every effort to manage your own feelings around his choices.

If you're willing to open these new lines of communication through real dialogue and careful listening, you may discover fresh perspectives on one another's views. Perhaps you will also find you possess similarities you hadn't thought you had.

Communication is key and having a productive conversation, with the goal being the development of a newfound respect and trust for both parties involved, becomes the most essential component.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for this conversation:

1. Find common ground that you can connect on. We sometimes bond over the simplest of things. Avoid antagonistic topics or hot button issues (you know what they are!)

2. Acknowledge that you love your son and wish him to be very successful in his life!

3. Ask yourself the following questions:

a. How much longer are you willing to be your son's complete financial provider? What scares you about continuing as is? What scares you about discontinuing?

b. What would your ideal relationship with your son look like? Is that ideal possible? What are some steps you can take?

c. What are your true feelings about his chosen profession? Are you comfortable expressing it to him? If not, why not?

4. At some point it will be necessary to cease supporting your son. Recognize that this does not make you unsupportive of his artistic aspirations. Communicate to him that losing financial support is not an invitation to give up his desire to paint.

5. Remind him that you are proud of both his personal and artistic accomplishments. Express a deep hope that he can one day make a living as an artist, and express admiration for his bravery and courage.

Making a living as an artist is one of the most challenging endeavors one can take on. It stems from a deep passion within, which is often difficult to explain or erase. Once an artist, always an artist.

Your son is figuring out how to negotiate his dreams with real world responsibilities. He is no doubt filled with anger over not being able to succeed quickly enough, consistently questioning his talent and fearful about the future.

His possible disdain for a profession such as yours could be a coping skill to handle these pressures. It could also be a defense mechanism, in order to shield him from the shame of taking his "daddy's money."

It might be even be a natural rebellion against his father's lifestyle...and the list goes on!

If you want to teach him something, explain to him that this is the profession you have chosen. Acknowledge and share with him your talent as a successful financial analyst. Tell him of the value it brings to your life, including the financial rewards and personal fulfillment you have attained.

Your son needs to understand the meaning behind your professional choices, so he can continue to monitor and challenge his own.

I would have this conversation sooner than later. Have the conversation today. You don't want to continue providing him with financial resources indefinitely. It serves neither of you individually, and does nothing to strengthen your relationship.

I also caution you against removing your financial backing immediately. It is best to ease him into taking part in earning his own living. However, don't be mistaken, a carefully drawn out time frame is needed.

Your son will begin to feel much better about himself as he becomes an earner. He will grow in leaps and bounds as he empowers himself. Your bond will strengthen as well, as he remembers your encouragement.

Thank you for your wonderful question and I hope my response was helpful!

Let me know how the dialogue goes and email again for future tips as you proceed on your journey with him.

Keep the comments and questions coming in to "Ask Noah" at nskass@gmail.com.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

Noah

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