I don’t feel as if I’m a bank, but I’m conscious that my kids see me as one.
In all that has been written about the “Bank of Mum and Dad,” it’s a challenging thing to understand that this refers to you and your partner.
Surely you are too young for that? Surely you are so original and different that such labels don’t apply? The reality is that they do.
We are at the classic sandwich stage of our lives. Middle-aged, still working, with young adult children and elderly parents to look after, both with their very individual needs.
At least we are – this year – coming out of the cruel treadmill of paying for school fees as our youngest completes her Year 12.
Private education seemed like a good idea back then, but the reality is that it’s been a financial burden which has nearly killed us.
Now, free of school fees, we look at our lovely family four bedroom home and understand that its worth a lot more than it did when we bought it.
It is just so tempting to sell up, buy a one bedroom flat and pocket the change and really step down several gears. That novel I’ve always wanted to write beckons, as does a cruise around the Baltic.
Any move to sell the house would result, however, in family revolt.
Our eldest is 22 and just finishing university, but even though he says he wants to move out and find a job next year, we are highly sceptical.
He’s even had the gall to ask us if we could pay part of his rent if he moves out, because that’s a luxury a few of his friends enjoy.
But the reality is that we make it far too pleasant for him to stay at home, where he is fed for free, his mobile phone is on the family plan and it is open season on the bronze coins in the change jar.
As for our youngest, well there is the precedent of her brother continuing to live at home, rent free, while he completed tertiary education. Shouldn’t she be entitled to the same?
Both of them are looking at the property market and despairing that they will ever be able to get on the ladder.
They are resigned to spending their 20s, 30s and perhaps their 40s as renters, and this is why they are so determined that we not sell the family home, because in their far off dreams they can imagine living in it one day. (How it would be divided between them they haven’t thought of yet).
Their argument is that family wealth is meant to be passed on and that we are only holding it in trust for them, and their children.
I can see the argument, and feel their pain when they look at the property market.
After all, my parents gave me a leg up in the market when I bought my first home – at 29 – but house prices were so much more reasonable then.
A similar parent gift these days would have to be six figures to be meaningful.
So, as we wrestle with these dilemmas life drifts on with no change realistically in sight.
Seems I am destined to keep working for a few more years, not to fund my retirement but to continue funding my kids through the Family Bank which, right now, is very much a one way street.
There is a solution at hand of course, and some would call it tough love. Number one, why not sell the house?
Number two, make the kids pay their way. Get them to take a job and make a contribution to rent and board and get them to pay for their own phones.
That would be fair, and make sense. But money conversations are hard to have with those you love, and changing the whole financial dynamic after two decades of providing everything is like turning around an ocean liner.
Time to make a start on turning it around then…..