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Can A Parent Be Financially Abusive?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

It is a common belief that financial abuse can only happen between two adults. Sadly, this is not true. Financial abuse can happen to anyone. Worse still, financial abuse can be very difficult to detect. But can a parent be financially abusive to their children?

Can A Parent Be Financially Abusive?

This is especially true in cases of financial abuse between an adult and a child since children often do not manage their own bank accounts or money and are therefore very susceptible to financial abuse.

But, is it possible for a parent or guardian to be financially abusive toward their children? Parents are responsible for their children’s money until they come of age, so is there potential for abuse?

In this article, I will discuss whether or not parents or guardians can be financially abusive toward their children, how to spot the signs, and what can be done about it. Read on for more. 

What Is Financial Abuse?

Before discussing parental financial abuse, let’s define what financial abuse is specifically.

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse, and it occurs when an abuser prevents or restricts another person’s ability to maintain, use, or even acquire money or any other form of economic resource. 

Financial child abuse is when an adult uses money as a weapon for the purpose of taking advantage of a minor.

This can happen in many ways, but it most often happens by exploiting a child’s money, stealing a child’s money, or using their personal information for economic gain. 

Can A Parent Be Financially Abusive?

Sadly, yes. Parents can be financially abusive toward their children.

While it is normal for parents to control the personal info and money of their children, since children are not old enough to do this themselves, if they take advantage of this money and control their child’s finances for their own gain, then this becomes abuse. 

Some parents will financially abuse their children as a means of exploiting, controlling, and manipulating them. Sometimes, financial abuse of children can happen if a family is struggling financially.

For example, if a parent is in a difficult financial situation, such as having a low credit score, then they will use the names of their children to receive economic gain they could not receive otherwise. 

Here, while the intention is not to hurt or abuse the child, it is still a form of abuse that does indeed cause a child pain. This is because, in most of these cases, a lot of debt is acquired. So, the low credit score and difficult financial situation are passed on to the child. 

Financial Abuse Signs From A Parent 

Can A Parent Be Financially Abusive?

Many children and teenagers do not realize that they’re being abused financially until they come to an age where they want to open a bank account, apply for a credit card, or apply for jobs.

By the time a child is old enough to do this, their credit score can be damaged severely. So, it is important to learn and spot the signs early on before it can get to this point. 

The following is a list of signs that a child is being financially abused by their parents. 

  • A child as a credit report
  • Mail regarding an account status or payment is addressed to a child 
  • Children are punished for spending money that they have earned themselves or have been given for birthdays, Christmas, etc. 
  • Parents threaten children with money. For example, threatening to withhold money or take money away. 
  • If a parent can claim their child as a dependent because their child makes too much money. 
  • If a parent takes the money that has been given to a child or earned by the child. 

If you are currently an adult but suspect you were financially abused as a child, then here are some key signs. 

  • You are not able to access a bank account 
  • You have debt and bills you cannot explain
  • You cannot open a new bank account because you already have one that exists in your name (that you know you didn’t make yourself)
  • There are withdrawals from your bank account that you did not authorize 
  • If you have a low credit score without ever having opened a line of credit

What Is The Impact Of Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse can have a long-lasting impact in various ways. For one thing, financial abuse can ruin the relationship between a parent and a child because the parent has broken the child’s trust.

This can have a lasting impact on the child’s relationship with money and with many other people in their adult life. 

After all, becoming an adult and trying to manage an adult life is difficult enough, but beginning it with a low credit score and debt is going to make it even more difficult.

This is especially true when it comes to buying a house since landlords will often look at credit scores before they can accept an application. This is also true of bank accounts and employers. 

So, if an adult who was financially abused as a child cannot open a bank account, then they will not be able to get a job. Because of this, they cannot get housing which can result in poverty and homelessness. 

What To Do If You Think You Are Being Abused Financially

If you suspect you are being financially abused by a parent, or suspect you have been financially abused in the past, then it is a good idea to get a credit report.

Getting A Credit Report

It is a good idea to get a credit report if you suspect financial abuse. Credit reports will allow you to assess the situation and find out the truth. Once you have established this, you need to get in touch with the report lenders and find out how you can move forward. 

You will still need to pay off any accumulated debt, but you can stop any more debt from being accumulated. 

It is also a good idea to seek financial advice so you do not fall into more debt and fall into a more difficult financial situation.

There are many organizations out there to help you with financial advice, such as the Financial Planning Association. It is also a good idea to seek emotional support to help you through this difficult time. 

Final Thoughts

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse and is when an abuser seeks to manipulate, exploit, or control another person financially. This can mean controlling their finances, stopping them from working, or becoming annoyed when they spend money. 

Unfortunately, financial abuse is not something exclusive to adults. Children can be financially abused, too. Sadly, children are typically financially abused by their parents. 

Parental financial abuse happens when a parent uses their child’s money for their own benefit. This can be intentionally malicious and it can also be unintentionally harmful.

For example, parents can deliberately take their child’s earned and gifted money to spend on themselves. Or, they can use the name of their child for economic gain if they are struggling financially. 

However, in the majority of cases of child financial abuse, it leaves the child with debt and a low credit score that can cause significant problems in their adult life. 

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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