You're Not Enabling

Donna has a 26-year-old son who just completed eight years in the military. Now, he’s in some financial difficulty, and he’s angry with his mom for not sending him money. Is she doing the right thing?

QUESTION: Donna in Nashville has a 26-year-old son who just completed eight years in the military. Now, he’s in some financial difficulty, and he’s angry with his mom for not sending him money. Is she doing the right thing? Dave thinks so, but she may need to explain her position better to her son.

ANSWER: You’re doing the strong part the correct way. You’re not enabling him. I don’t know how good a job you’re doing of communicating this is an act of love and it’s not just you hitting back because he didn’t behave. This is not punishment. This is just saying, “Honey, the way to fix your life is not for me to give you money. The way to fix your life is for you to know something you didn’t know. I’ll help you with some money. I will not be blackmailed by you with your relationship or the relationship with my grandchild. But I’ll help you with some money, but it’s contingent upon you completing Financial Peace University and you doing the things in that class. For every dollar of debt you pay off, I’ll pay off a quarter. Or I’ll pay off a dollar.” Do some matching with him if you want to. But you need to communicate a little more love to him and a little less hard line but still take the hard line. Just make sure he understands where it’s coming from and that it is for his own good and it’s not punishment because he goofed up. This is how we fix it.