parents and childrenA conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue”—Truman Capote

The best ideas start as conversations, and talks between retirees and their adult children are always a good idea. They’re also a two-way street. Much has been written about a retirement income impacted by continuing financial support for an adult child. But by the same token, as Cliff Goldstein writes in a smart piece headlined 5 ways to talk to parents about their retirement income, “not knowing the true status of a parent’s retirement nest egg can cause a lot of anxiety for younger workers. Money is always a delicate subject, especially if aging parents don’t want their children interfering in their finances. But with a recent report by the Federal Reserve showing that up to 20% of people near retirement age have no money saved at all, it’s a topic that needs to be broached — and sooner rather than later.”

Here are excerpts from Goldstein’s article that lists ideas for making “conversations go smoother.” Among his suggestions:

Be forthcoming about your own finances

“Tell your parents about your own financial situation, both now and in terms of what you’re planning for the future. Are you in a lot of debt? Are you putting money away for college or retirement? If so, how much? . . . sharing your story can be a good way to get reluctant parents to open up.

Ask them for advice

“Our parents are always our greatest teachers, and that doesn’t change as we get older. Ask what they have learned in their years of saving and managing investments that might help you better prepare for your own financial future.

Ask them about their hopes for the future

“Asking your parents where they want to live or about any traveling they hope to do in their retirement can be a much more positive way to frame a conversation about money. Once you both understand their wants and desires, you can start talking about ways to make sure those wishes are fulfilled.

Talk about safeguarding their records

“As parents age, cognitive impairment may become an issue that can diminish their ability to make sound financial decisions. Ask where your parents’ financial records are kept so you can access them if the need arises and keep their retirement income secure.

“Encourage them to put together a file or ‘financial map’ that details the location of financial documents, safe-deposit boxes and contact information for their accountants and financial advisers. This can serve as a springboard to a larger discussion about their financial situation.”