When we think about protecting our family it isn’t uncommon to find ourselves thinking about money.
Money is a fundamental tool in our lives. We use it for some of most basic needs such as shelter, food and water. It is natural to see money as a way to provide for those we love most. Why wouldn’t you help your family financially?
Where it becomes a problem is where the natural desire to do the best for our family becomes dysfunctional.
Are you helping or hindering your family?
If Mom pays the bills for her adult son every month, she isn’t supporting him. She is doing the opposite. The son will never be independent and Mom is trapped by the obligation.
That is just one example. I have come across clients where:
- A daughter financially supports a parent
- An ex-wife pays bills of her unemployed ex-husband
- Dad pays off his daughter’s credit card every time she goes on a spree
Saying ‘No’ can help the family dynamic
These are not isolated incidents. We can become caught between our love for our family and a guilt that comes from the ‘tough love’ of saying “No.” Relationships become unhealthy and if, finally, a stand is taken, the fallout can last for years.
Seeing the danger in unhelpful family loyalty means that action can be taken. If you feel you are the first, instead of the last financial resort, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I even realize when I am giving money?
- Why do I feel guilty or obligated?
- Am I improving their life by paying their bills?
- Am I teaching them to manage their money?
- Is there a way to help them without giving them money?
By saying no, your loved one has to take control and rely on themselves and, when they do, their personal power increases.
This can help family dynamics go a long way.
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