How to help your kids with their lousy credit

  • Andrew Porter/iStockphoto

    By Gerri Detweiler/

    Most parents don't want to see their child -- even as an adult -- face-plant in any endeavor. Parents teach kids to walk and talk, feed them, clothe them and hope they are preparing them well for adulthood. Their instinct (hopefully) is to protect. If a young person isn't handling credit responsibly, parents may secretly believe it is because they failed to adequately prepare them, says financial therapist Amanda Clayman.

    But helping can put parents back in a parental role even when the "child" is now an adult and should be treated as such, Clayman said. "There's lots of room for stepping on toes, and parents can't impose a solution," she said.

    One of the biggest dilemmas occurs when young adults mishandle credit so badly that they are going to run into trouble finding a place to live or getting an auto loan so that they can commute to work. What's a parent to do?

    "You can listen for clues, like complaining about financial stress or not having enough money," Clayman said. But you can't really intrude and insist on helping. Nor can you sneak a peek at your adult child's credit reports or scores (it's against the law). But you can ask questions to see if they are willing to talk about their credit woes. If so, you can ask if they want help.

    Click ahead for a look at some tips on how to help your kids if they have lousy credit.