Time Off From School?

Mr. Demonic Jr. announced via email that he would like to take time off from school once he graduates in spring 2009.

I’m all for it, but I sent him a brief email back stating he’d better think about a job. Remember, the gravy train makes its final stop sometime next year.

By spring 2009, he will be close to 22 years old. Except for a short stint as an ice cream boy in Ghiradelli Square, he hasn’t had a real job, ever. Especially since we employed him before that. We own a real business, but when you are the boss’ son or daughter, it’s not like having a real job. I know this from working in my father’s gas station. Working for family is sort of like slave labor with loads of benefits.

From working at the tourist trap-chocolate factory, Mr. Demonic Jr. knows that 1. nothing chocolate is in his future and 2. he hates foreign tourists.

I had to bite my tongue with him (or, in this case, curb my urge to type angrily) with regard to old stories of my own checkered youth. I didn’t have parents who funded my upper education. With five other kids, they couldn’t afford to. I worked like a dog for the two years I did get in, but fell to the wayside when I decided eating was more important than a degree. Even my husband, Old Mr. Demonic, foot the bill for his own college studies. His parents gave him room and board, but nothing else.

My sister has a wonderful idea when it comes to children and how much of your wealth you should share with them, especially with adult children. She’s worked hard all of her life, and is thrifty, which is why she’s got a nest egg the size of an ostrich’s. Her own daughter has a kind heart and is a good mother, but has tended to make poor choices. Let’s say her nest egg is about the size of a frog’s.

My sister called me about five years ago asking my advice on what to do with her money. She would have loved to have given some to her daughter, but felt it would not have been spent well. My niece is the type who would take a windfall, buy a vehicle, and promptly crash it before getting insurance. I suggested donating some to whatever charity she likes best.

After some conversation with my brother-in-law, she decided what she was going to do. She would spend it all before she dies. They just returned home from a vacation to Disney World, where neither had ever been. Now they’re planning a vacation on Tahiti. After that, I might go with her to Japan.

It’s nice to have children, and it’s nice when they are adults. It’s even nicer to forget about your adult children and do what you want to, what you dream of. I think I’ll try to pen this idea in a sensible way, and answer Mr. Junior Demonic’s email.

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7 Responses

  1. It’s a fine line between indulging grown children with too much money or, in the case of your niece, throwing money away. For many of us, it’s a question of parsing the difference between giving till it hurts or doing just enough to give our children [and ourselves] pleasure. I’ve got some interesting stats from a recent survey of some 400 parents of adult children: It’s on my blog: grownchildren.typepad.com

  2. I see t-shirts all the time that say “I’m spending my children’s inheritance.”

    You worked for it. You might as well enjoy it. 😉

  3. Well…I’m sort of back.

    I vote for finding some sort of balance. Spend a bunch and enjoy your life. Leave some for your kids. Some things were harder for you than they are for your kids and some things were easier. The fact that you had to some particular hardship doesn’t mean that they should have that particular hardship too. They are now independent and you don’t have to give them anything but you still love them and I think do want them to turn to you sometimes. They should balance themselves too. They shouldn’t always turn to you for every little problem.

  4. Having 2 adult children (sort of) I have decided that even when you are off the hook, you are never off the hook. One cost us a fortune, screwed up and we are almost done paying for the mistakes of his we couldn’t get out of. He is cut off from borrowing money, co-signing etc. but of course he still gets meals on occasion, gifts etc. He’s 25. The youngest has done it all very well. She graduated from college in May, got a job immediately and supports herself at 23. Of course, it is 1000 miles away, so it cost a couple thousand to go see her (she can’t get off work yet) and then we want to make sure her car is in good shape, treat her to things because we only see her every 3 months, and keep her on our car insurance (it is so much cheaper), help with her student loan (after all-she’s trying really hard and just can’t do it all yet)…so, those days of financial freedom, just aren’t here yet!

  5. I have a feeling financial freedom doesn’t come until you die.

  6. My parents often try to give me gifts or offer me money that I refuse to take, partly because I think their offers are motivated by guilt over the childhood that has made me into a barely-functional and emotionally destroyed adult. I don’t think they think of it as trying to buy me off, but that’s how it feels.

    When I bought my house (with my own money), they gave me a refrigerator and washer/dryer as housewarming gifts, because I was, at that point,completely out of money. I made them sign an agreement that they wouldn’t give me birthday or Christmas gifts for three years, to balance it back out.

  7. You’re sort of the son I wish I had, David. I say, sort of, because I’m not sure I could handle having a “barely-functional and emotionally destroyed” adult child. (Which I can hardly believe, by the way.) But really! A relative who refuses money or gifts!

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