Whether your kids’ launch will succeed or fail is ultimately up to them, but helping them anticipate and navigate life’s challenges is a valuable parental role.

The results of a recent online search included this eye-catching title: “

Has Google Replaced Mom and Dad?

In addition to being somewhat prophetic (it was written in 2012), the article’s insights could lead one to a sobering conclusion – that, in contrast to preceding generations, children of the Internet era are far less likely to view their parents as their primary source of information, knowledge, and wisdom.

One of the consequences of a child’s attention shift from parents to smartphones is that, increasingly, we hear parental laments that their kids have left the nest ill-equipped in the basic practices and disciplines that allow them to function as an independent, responsible adult.

Whether your kids’ launch will succeed or fail is ultimately up to them, but you can still help them anticipate and navigate life’s challenges. Following is a list of 10 fundamental conditions and mentoring topics that you might use and expand to help your adult child – single or married – get and keep their house in order.

  1. Financial record-keeping

    – use an app such as Quicken and enter purchases and deposits daily.

  2. Budget

    – create one that encompasses all sources and uses of cash and credit, is based on historical spending/income data (see item 1) or at least reality, and is actively monitored and managed.

  3. Taxes

    – file federal and state returns and pay taxes, on time, and don’t minimize tax withholding just to maximize take-home pay.

  4. Savings

    – put away 10% or more of income, for rainy days, emergencies, mortgage down payment, major purchases, investment/retirement (show them the compound interest calculator at


    ); max participation in employer’s 401(k).

  5. Debt management

    – strive for zero personal debt except for home mortgage, understand the real cost of the minimum monthly payment, and build debt retirement into the budget (see item 2).

  6. Credit card use

    – it’s a convenience, not an income stream.

  7. Everyday purchases

    – pay cash for everything (or use a credit card only to make purchases that can be paid in full each month), know the difference between a need and a want, avoid impulse buying.

  8. Major purchases

    (including cars, large appliances, home improvements, and education) – anticipate them (make a list) far enough in advance that they can be purchased with saved funds, not installment debt (if they can’t afford the saving, they can’t afford the loan payment).

  9. Estate plan

    – at the very least, a will (maybe a trust), financial power of attorney, and healthcare directives.

  10. Insurance

    – health, life, auto (including UM/UIM coverage) and maybe an umbrella policy.

In a healthy relationship with an adult child, the parent is still a parent, but the child is no longer a child. Your relationship can become more peer-to-peer, and your role in their life can progress from disciplinary to advisory.

If your child is still a minor, instilling in them the values implied in the preceding list can help them enter adulthood on the right foot and a firm foundation.

If they have already left the nest but are showing signs of a malfunctioning launch, a list like this one can serve as a valuable mentoring tool that will help you share your knowledge and experiences and help them make wise decisions en route to a successful life.