After being a Money Coach ™ for almost two decades I thought I had heard it all when it comes to financial relationships in the family.

I was running a workshop for a group of social workers that provide pre-marital counseling to newly-weds because they needed solutions to some of the hard money-related questions they struggle to answer.

At the end of the session I was approached with a dilemma by a mom who has children in their late 30’s.

She was upset because she loves spending time with her kids and their grandchildren but every time they go out for lunch or dinner with the family, her kids never put their hands in their own pockets to pay.

The reason she was battling with this situation is because by raising this problem with her kids it will signal that her children may have been taking advantage of her and her husband. And, this could cause all sorts of complications that she would rather avoid.

As parents you will have been paying for your kids meals and of other expenses their whole lives, so when is it time to draw the line?

There is always complexity when it comes to family finances because managing money is just not treated as a team sport. I explained that in fairness to her kids, they do not know that herself and her husband are worried about how they are going to retire. She had never discussed her financial position with her children. Also, very innocently, kids will always see their parents in a positive light – most children just assume their parents are wise enough and responsible enough to have invested enough money to retire one day.

It is really important for all parents to know that money should be discussed with kids from a very early age. Kids have to know that money should be treated with respect and has a purpose in the world.

You should always be teaching your kids to separate their money in three ways, for giving to charity, for investing to build wealth and for spending to enjoy life.

I often explain to my kids how the spending habits of our family directly affects ‘mom and dads’ ability to be free one day. In fact our spending habits directly impact how much time our kids get to spend with us. The higher the altitude of our lifestyle the more time we need to be spend focusing on making money.

So if you do have kids who are not yet fully weaned off your bank accounts then its simple, tell your kids that you have been looking at your retirement planning and you are pretty far behind. Tell them this is causing you stress and that it is important that going forward you need to reduce some of your expenses to invest more aggressively towards your retirement. Tell them you would appreciate it if they began picking up some of their own expenses from now on. It doesn’t mean you won’t be taking them out for lunch anymore, it just means there shouldn’t be an expectation for you to always fit the bill.

I promise you that your kids will have a natural instinct to protect your interests and understand that this is not a personal gripe but a call for responsibility and planning on your side, which they will only respect.

Believe you me that you will feel like you are not looking after your kids when they start paying for themselves but that is nonsense. You should never begrudge your kids the fight. They need to learn to stand on their own two feet.

The truth is that if you are not able to fully fund your own retirement then this will become your kids financial problem one day. It really is in their best interest to give you an opportunity to build a sustainable financial future for yourselves.

Author: Gary Kayle – Money Coach™ @ The Money School