Joint Accounts

Should I Help My Irresponsible Son Pay for His Divorce?

You have two options: Turn off the cash flow, or help him get on the right track

Kristin Wong
Published in
4 min readJun 17, 2019


Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

My 45-year-old son recently asked for financial help to pay for his divorce. In the process of helping him, I became aware that our views on financial responsibility are vastly different. For example, he’s making large monthly payments for his 17-year-old son to drive a newer SUV. When I suggested he trade the vehicle for an older compact car, he fought me, saying he doesn’t want to lose his son by taking away his car.

I’m disappointed that our values are so different. My son should be saving for retirement, not living beyond his means. And with my grandson’s first year of college on the horizon, I’m worried my son will go deeper into debt to finance it. How can I convince him he’s making some major errors in not saying “no” to his kids when they ask for things he can’t afford? Should I just shut up and turn off the money spigot? I’m not sure if I’m more concerned about my son’s financial habits or his belief that his own children would emotionally blackmail him for saying “no.”


Concerned Parent (and Grandparent)



Kristin Wong
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.