Dave Says: Bless them, don’t enable them

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are both teachers, and we’re on Baby Step 7. We’re struggling with things where our wills are concerned. Three of our four adult children aren’t being wise with their money, and my husband and I disagree on how to talk to them about it and how it may affect us re-structuring our wills. We don’t want to be judgmental, but at the same time we agree something needs to be said or done.

Danielle

Dear Danielle,

Let’s say someone is working at my company, and taking my money in the form of a paycheck. Let’s also say this person isn’t doing a good job. If I don’t talk to them about their performance because I don’t want to be seen as judgmental, I’m not doing my job.

I owe them the feedback necessary for them to become a good team member. Otherwise, they could just get fired one day without really knowing what happened because I refused to “judge” them.

You’re supposed to judge people. The idea that you’re not supposed to is ridiculous. But you don’t have to be a jerk about it.

There’s a big difference between judging people and being judgmental. But it’s unkind not to share insights or suggestions for a better way of life with those you love most. Holding back and telling yourself the way someone behaves is just the way they’re made is wrong in most instances. Overspending and not saving money aren’t character traits — they’re decisions.

They’re adults now, and they’re going to do what they want. They don’t have to understand or support your ways of handling money, but you and your husband have every right to tell them they have to start behaving in certain ways if they expect to receive your money when the time comes.

If they’re misbehaving, and you give them money, you’re funding that bad behavior. That’s not love, that’s enabling. And a big pile of money isn’t going to heal the bad things — it’s only going to magnify them.

Sit down with your kids, and have a loving, clear discussion about the situation. Remind them that they’re adults, and you and your husband are no longer able to tell them how they have to live.

But let them know in no uncertain terms, gently but firmly, they will not receive your money if they continue to behave in ways you both consider foolish or unreasonable. Let them know they’ll always have your love, just not your money, unless they begin behaving more intelligently and maturely with their finances.

You can’t make them do anything, Danielle. But you can ensure they understand you two won’t be sharing your wealth with people who can’t handle it and use it wisely.

— Dave

* Dave Ramsey is a seven-time #1 national best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by more than 18 million listeners each week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today Show, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.