Many adult children feel uncomfortable having “the money talk” with their aging parents. None of us want to offend our parents or feel as if we’re overstepping our boundaries, but the tough conversations in life tend to be among the most important. We can’t tell you exactly what to say to your parents — you know them best, after all — but we can share these five tips to consider as you make your conversation gameplan.
Rather than springing such a big conversation on them, let your parents know ahead of time that you want to talk and that your goal isn’t to interfere, but to communicate. Pick a time that works well for everyone and meet where there are as few distractions as possible. This will ensure your parents don’t feel surprised and will have time to prepare their own questions or even documents to further the conversation.
Come with a list of questions and any information you believe may be of help. Consider speaking with a financial advisor ahead of time. This can help you prepare any questions you may have and think through important financial documents your parents need, but may not have ready or updated.
As adults, none of us like being told what to do, so be sure to come to the conversation ready for a conversation, rather than just looking to check boxes on an agenda. Your parents may have questions or may need you to hear their thoughts about what you’re asking before they are ready to get into the details.
And that’s why you should be prepared to have more than one conversation. If anyone begins to show signs of weariness or frustration, allow yourselves to take a break. You can always reconvene later, but you don’t want to push anyone to the point of negative feelings.
It’s important to let your parents know that you want to offer help and support, how and where you can. Tell them why it matters to you that you have open and honest conversations now. And be sure to leave plenty of time and space for your parents to ask questions and share their feelings.
With the right approach, tough conversations not only solve potential future challenges before they stop, but they also bring families closer together and strengthen supportive bonds.
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