Will we have to bail out our own family members?


From the NYT business section comes this editotial,(the last half):

Will we have to bail out our own family members?

It’s started coming up in asides I hear from middle-aged friends who are concerned about their parents ending up in the poorhouse. And I see it in e-mail from people in their 60s and 70s, who can’t believe their offspring got mixed up in funny mortgages and wallets full of credit cards.

But often, the grown children don’t know precisely how the devastation in the markets has affected their parents’ portfolio, and the older parents don’t know what their children’s monthly debt payments are.

None of this is fun to think about. And if you dare to open your mouth about it, relatives may take offense. Silence, however, is good for no one. You don’t want to be blindsided months or years from now by a family member in desperate straits, nor do you want to worry yourself sick when there’s no reason to.

So this week, please consider starting an intergenerational conversation about money, perhaps in writing, which might reduce the risk of a knee-jerk response that leads to an argument. I’ve suggested an approach below, for an e-mail message or letter to a parent and a possible reply, though you could easily tweak it if you’re initiating the chat with your child.

You’ll probably have your own ideas about how to approach this conversation, or some lessons learned from discussions that went awry. If so, please post them in the article comments section of this story.