Are You Coddling Your Grandkids? (Or Your Kids?)

Recently the Wall Street Journal printed an article Are You Coddling Your Grandkids?

The subhead was

People Are Showering Money on Their Children’s Children—Even at the Expense of Their Own Retirement.  

It is only natural for grandparents to want to help their grandchildren financially. But the weak economy and job market are spurring a growing number of older people to give until it hurts. …  

Dorothy Nelson, a 73-year-old retired widow in Lindenhurst, N.Y., spent much of her savings over the past decade helping her children pay for housing, oil bills and other expenses for her eight grandchildren. The money covered a $40,000 bedroom addition, $60,000 in mortgage payments and other big-ticket items.

But she found herself running so low on savings that she had to take out a reverse mortgage to pay property taxes, and started volunteering through a foster-grandparent program that provides a small stipend.

“You live for your children and your grandchildren. You want to make the world a little better place for them. In the meantime, you forget about yourself,” Ms. Nelson says. “If I had to do it over again, it would be completely different.”

The risk that some people run is that  are so invested in their children that they will literally impoverish themselves to help their children out.  Of course if they run out of money the elderly will then have to depend on government assistance or move in with the kids, neither one of which would be necessary if they understood that their first responsibility is to themselves.  Unfortunately, the elderly are preyed upon by all kinds of people, not least of which are their relatives.

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