from the author of Family Rules and The Dynamics of Family Business

Trust Me: Helping Our Young Adults Financially

Kenneth Kaye, Ph.D. and Nick Kaye

In Trust Me, family psychologist Kenneth Kaye and his son, Nick, use the experience of Nick’s struggle with what he calls “Attention Money Disorder” to combine a no-nonsense strategy; practical advice; business wisdom; and dozens of examples. They show you step by step how to negotiate a “Deal” with your young adult, rebuilding mutual trust and nurturing the skills and habits of a self-supporting grown-up.

  • Your daughter, maxed out on credit cards, asks you to co-sign a lease.
  • Your son can’t afford rent and needs to move back home.
  • Your ex-daughter-in-law is laid off, losing your grandchildren’s health insurance.
  • Your nephew agrees to enter an expensive addiction treatment program.
  • Your older son, recently diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, is months behind on his mortgage payments.

Millions of parents face these dilemmas, years after they thought their children would be independent. As you extend financial assistance, how can you help a young adult become prudent and accountable?

From Chapter II, “What’s the Deal?”

There’s nothing wrong with subsidizing a young person, whether by paying their rent, funding a clothes budget, taking over a credit card debt on more manageable terms, or letting them move back home. If it’s working for both of you, don’t fix it. But if you picked up this book because you’re frustrated, or you fear you’ve let that son or daughter manipulate you, or you hear yourself nagging and nothing changes, or you suspect you’re enabling a situation that isn’t good for them, then you absolutely need to examine your Deal, fine-tune and clarify it.

"Dr. Ken" and Nick Kaye moderate a community forum on all these topics. Share your experiences at

Kenneth Kaye, Ph.D.'s books include the best-selling Family Rules: Raising Responsible Children and The Dynamics of Family Business. As a researcher, Dr. Ken authored The Mental and Social Life of Babies: How Parents Create Persons and dozens of articles in scholarly journals. He has also written for Psychology Today, Redbook, The Sciences, Family Business, Corporate Board, Nation's Business, and many other magazines.

“I love this wonderfully practical, down-to-earth, funny, thoughtful, warm, subversive book. Subversive because those who follow the two Kayes’ advice will be better mentors, but also more financially responsible themselves. Every parent or relative who’s worried about subsidizing an adult child needs this book.”

Joline Godfrey, Author, Raising Financially Fit Kids.

“An amazing, transformational book conveying important challenges while providing hope in the form of tangible, easy-to-understand strategies that will encourage young adults to explore and discover what works for them.”

David Giwerc, Past President, Adult ADD Association.

“Ken Kaye speaks hard truths about tough subjects in a delightful and palatable way. His rock solid advice about when and how parents should bail their kids out of financial trouble can only come from an expert who has actually been there – with his son and co-author!”

Linda Lee, Executive Editor,

Chapter highlights from Trust Me: Helping Our Young Adults Financially:

“Trust Me”:
In the period after adolescence, as young people go out to make their way in the world, relationships between the generations normally become easier. That's complicated when would-be adults can't support themselves, and fall into the worrisome condition of requiring parental support without meeting parental expectations. The solution is to give young people the tools they need to earn our trust; at the same time, we earn their trust by being mentors who genuinely respect their independence.

What's the Deal?
Is the money a loan or unconditional grant? For how long? What's the shared goal? How about coaching to help them keep their end of the bargain? Discuss the Deal explicitly, negotiate and write out terms, and formally sign it. What positive life changes can your youth look forward to when he or she completes the Deal's terms?

Life Lessons about Trust:
Nick Kaye introduces the problem with reflections from his first foray into “independence” in his teens.

Money's Not the Answer:
Besides the immediate issue of money, young adults need three things: motivation, education and emotional support. This chapter offers a system for "teaching them to fish rather than merely handing them a wad of fish."

The Place Where, When You Have to Go There ... :
Having an adult child still at home with you, or returning for awhile, can be a plus for both generations. Just make the Deal clear.

“Attention Money Disorder”:
Attention problems range from clinically diagnosed, neurological differences in brain wiring that affect reading, memory, and organizational skills, to habitual obtuseness and inattentiveness about money. Key to this problem is the young adult’s tendency to pay attention to stuff they want to own or do, rather than what they can afford at the moment.

Banking 101:
Budgets Don't Work: When money troubles rise to the level of a crisis that your Deal insists cannot be ignored, young adults need supervisory support. Overseeing them step by step as they pay bills, assess their cash flow, and look at the trend over time can build confidence in basic skills they somehow didn't learn before.

Banking 201:
Credit card balances and other debts threaten to make the simple exercise of paying bills impossible. By confronting the problem while focusing on constructive behavior rather than past mistakes, a crisis produces the opportunity for a new Deal that motivates, teaches and supports.

Early Prevention:
Falling into debt isn't unique to young people. Most U.S. families don't save a penny of after-tax income; in fact we as a nation are way over our heads in debt—precipitating our current financial crisis. Young adults were particularly vulnerable to the temptations of easy credit. This chapter makes the case for "inoculating" them against the economy's attempts to seduce them into debt, expressed in ways young people can understand and use.

Too Late for Prevention; Bring on the Treatment:
“My daughter is months behind in her bills, missing payments on her credit cards, and threatened with eviction. Is it a bad idea for me to bail her out? Is that what they mean by ‘enabling’?” It depends what you think the problem is. One way or another, you’ll help her to the extent you can afford—as well as coaching or finding someone to coach her through this crisis. But—what’s your Deal?

Risk Management:
Everything young people need to know about buying auto, health, and property insurance – and filing claims.

Taxes and Deductions

Trusts and Partnerships

Other Mentors:
Sometimes a parent is not the best mentor. Your Deal can specify another person—your accountant or bookkeeper, perhaps, or a counselor—to provide the mentoring part of your help.


"Dr. Ken" and Nick Kaye moderate a community forum on all these topics. Share your experiences at

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