Domestic Diversions


The Christian Science Monitor reports on adult children–well into their 40s–who live off their parents’ retirement savings.

Marilyn Gardner writes (excerpt):
The inability to say no when adult children ask for money is the biggest problem many parents face as they try to stretch their retirement money, says Kay Shirley, a certified financial planner in Atlanta. She expects the problem to get worse.

The British have even coined a word for these offspring with outstretched hands: Kippers, or Kids in Parents’ Purses Eroding Retirement Savings.

Some financial planners describe a typical parent who won’t say no as a single woman in her 70s. “The women complain about helping these children, but they can’t stop, even though it means they’re going to run out of money in a few years,” Perry says. “They fear that if they stop, it’ll damage the relationship somehow.” Indeed, some parents give money beyond their means as a way to keep control over children or to encourage dependence.

Whatever the situation, grown children’s reactions can range from feeling manipulated to feeling guilty and embarrassed, says Ms. Newman. “Many … I spoke with felt it was demeaning.”

Some adult children regard parents’ money as a birthright and feel entitled to have at least some of it now. If parents cut off that money, Ms. Newman says, children may be angry. To them, she says, “Realize that this parent is protecting you in the long run, and doesn’t want you to be his or her financial caregiver later in life.”

But saying no to offspring remains hard. Baby boomers in particular, Ms. Shirley finds, have been accustomed to saying yes to their children. They want them to maintain the lifestyles the parents have created.

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