The Most Expensive Stage Of Raising Kids Is When They're Adults

by Julie Scagell
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Seventy nine percent of parents provide some sort of financial support for our adult kids

A recent study reports that parents are spending $500 billion (with a B) annually on their adult children (ages 18-35), making it the most expensive phase of parenthood. For everyone reading this with kids, I’ll pause for a collective, “are you effing kidding me?” moment.

The survey, conducted by Merrill Lynch, found that parents continue to serve as the “family bank,” with 79% providing some kind of financial support to their adult children. Researchers looked at a group of 2,500 respondents, stating they are spending money on big-ticket items, like college and weddings, to everyday stuff like groceries and cell phones.

They also found nearly two-thirds of parents (63 percent) report encountering financial difficulties associated with parenting, and a majority (58 percent) experience stress about their finances before their kids are adults, so you’d think once they officially become adults you’d at least feel like you’re off the hook somewhat. But, you would be wrong.

This comes on the heels of another survey saying kids between the ages of 18-35 years of age living with their parents is at the highest it’s been in 130 years in the U.S. If that’s not enough depressing news for you, here’s a few more nuggets they found which are guaranteed to stop any whisper of sexy time tonight.

Image via Merrill Lynch

Parents spend twice as much on their adult children than they do investing in their own retirement, which is cool because by the time our kids are able to stand on their own two feet we’ll just move right on in with them.

And while most (94 percent) of participants say it’s worth every penny to spend money on their adult kids, 63 percent of them report having sacrificed their financial security for the sake of their children. I’d have to imagine the emotional toll of this has to be enormous. And while most parents would do anything for our kids, when does that sacrifice become our downfall?

Image via Merrill Lynch

And it’s true, the cost of living and post-high school education has skyrocketed, making it difficult for our kids to earn enough to move out and afford things on their own. But at a certain point, do parents need to cut the cord and let our kids make it on their own?

While there are inevitably arguments on both sides of the coin, the faster we can teach them independence, self-sufficiency, and the value of money, the better off they’ll be. That doesn’t mean never helping them out or spending money on them because we’re able, but baby if you’re 32 and can’t afford a cell phone, this mama will patiently await word from your carrier pigeon before paying for it.