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Should I bail my child out?  


Hi all. My first post so please be gentle! My 24yr old has lived independently since going to uni has just revealed the have a gambling problem and £30k  of debt as a result. I am hoping to retire in the next couple of years. Am I being selfish not bailing them out? I do not have masses of savings and would have to remortgage to do so. I feel that if I do bail them out I am only going to enable them to continue. I have offered to support them to look at debt management plans, counselling, even manage their finances etc. Am I doing enough? I cant help feeling this is all my fault. 

Posted : 21st January 2020 9:12 am
Forum admin

Dear @purple,

Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your post with us all. You will receive support and guidance from our forum community so please continue to keep using the forum.

We would strongly advise against lending money to your son or "bailing" him out as this doesn't tackle the problem gambling although the thought is coming from a good place, the reality is that it doesn't help your son overcome his problem with gambling and all the negative impacts it brings. Without any change from your Son there is nothing to guarantee this cycle won't repeat and further debt won't build up in addition to the one you'd be left paying off if you took on responsibility for it.

Whilst we can never tell you what to do, we would urge you protect your own assets including your own money and think about the impact it would have on you and your life, retirement plans, health and well-being if you decided to remortgage your home.

There is no blame here and no judgement, only support for everyone affected by gambling when it starts having a detrimental impact.

Dealing with the debt and the possibility of having no money is taking responsibility and ownership of the consequences, it's also part of the recovery.

You're right in the advice and support you've given your son and you have nothing to feel guilty about, you're not saying that you don't support your son. You're saying you support the recovery, not the gambling and that there is so much help, support, advice and guidance available for him with the gambling and debt. We can also make a free referral for some counselling sessions when he contacts us if he feels this would help.

Would you feel safe and able to speak to your son to try and encourage him to call our Netline or helpline for further support please?

He can also contact the below organisations for support with the debt and any other financial issues:-

It sounds like a very difficult and upsetting situation that you find yourself in, please remember that we're here for you and you can call our helpline on 0808 8020 133 or access our Netline via our GamCare website anytime you need to talk. We're open 24/7, seven days a week.

You can also access an online support meeting for the Family and Friends of problem gamblers every Sunday from 8pm until 9pm on the below link:-

Please take care, there is hope for your son overcoming problem gambling once he is ready to reach out for help and accept it. Many people go on to live a gamble free life. 

Sending you all the best,

Kindest Regards


Forum Admin


This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by Forum admin
Posted : 21st January 2020 12:01 pm

Hi Purple,

Welcome to the forum, I am sure that you will get lots of pearls of wisdom from people on here. Firstly I want to reiterate what forum admin have said. You have nothing at all to feel guilty about and you are making the right decision in choosing to support your son to work his way through his problem. Not bailing him out financially is probably the best decision you can make. I am a recovering compulsive gambler and I have been bailed out over the years. All I did was betray the people who reached out to help me and carried on gambling. Your son is young and has his whole life in front of him to address his gambling and debt if he so wishes. You deserve to enjoy what you have in your retirement. 

Wishing you all the best x

Posted : 21st January 2020 12:43 pm

Hi Purple and welcome to the forum.

My best advice with 40 years of experience is that you do not bail him out. There is no point throwing good money after bad because it will just cause ill feeling and it wont help him face up to his life.

Keep your money safe. He must now face this with your moral support only.

My parents did that for credit card/gambling debts and it destroyed my family relationship because little did I know they were the sort of people to bear a grudge for decades onwards.

They meant well but it caused more trouble than it was worth. I could never have paid them back and my parents essentially came on my list of creditors and became quite bitter about it

I asked them for moral support but they couldnt offer that and panicked into paying my debts which I didnt ask them to do. I was ill I was confused but I never actually expected them to pay. I would never have agreed to that in hindsight

Ive been a credit controller so dont worry about those firms..thats the risk they take...they are insured over the financial base anyway. They will come after him but so what! they cant get anything when the main stuff has gone or been sold. Im not saying be irresponsible...I am saying why worry yourselves ill about a financial process

Your son must face it and there is life after bankruptcy. The main thing is his mental heath. If he had property on a mortgage that will go but there are consequences to over borrowing and gambling.

It will strengthen him to face it. What he needs to know is that he has a loving family and the stuff he had doesnt ultimately matter.

Ive been there. I lost everything and I dont blame my parents in a way because it was my fault. However they added a spoiled relationship which was the only thing that mattered after those debts were all written off and my life went on.

Bankruptcy is a fresh start. In the greater picture its not the hugely shameful event when these finance companies were over lending and gambling should be banned.

Thats my take on it

Best wishes from everyone on the forum

This post was modified 1 month ago by Joydivider
Posted : 21st January 2020 1:30 pm
Lost and Found

I agree. Loans and bail outs are a bad idea. My parents don't know what my so called 'loans' were for, they thought I was just over spending, but it has been many years and I am still not in a position to repay them because my situation was far worse than I could possibly share with them.

It has been used against me more than once and has caused a kind of unspoken rift. It isn't openly said, but I know that I am thought of as less because of this...just little digs, veiled grudges and masked comments that hurt deep. I am compared in very subtle but noticeable ways to more ''successful'' people in my family....I still intend to repay them, but I have to put the money where it is needed first and still have quite a small amount left after repayments, even though I have not gambled now for nearly 2 years. Progress is very slow, but it is still progress. 

Looking back, I wish I never had the 'help'. It was done begrudgingly and caused issues for me long term. I wasn't ready to even make the most of the help. I saw some of it as an opportunity to win more and I used some to pay cards, and some to gamble, which I inevitably lost.

I have learnt far more through the struggle and through adversity than financial help. What I needed was mental and emotional support. I work hard and pay down debt steadily.  I made it and I make it right. That's the way it has to be. No easy way out. Without powerful repercussions, where are the consequences of our actions? 

My parents were not the sort to offer emotional or moral support. They would NEVER have tolerated the truth, so I let them think I was just bad at managing money, which wasn't far from the truth. I knew I couldn't get the emotional support I needed, so I took the financial support, but I agree with Joydivider....It was the wrong move, looking back. The problem is that for years after the loan, I was still gambling and so was never in a position to repay them and they couldn't understand why. 

I feel a sense of pride in working hard and paying down my debt. It would have been nice to have the offer of support that you intend to give your son, but that was never an option for me. We just don't have that kind of relationship. What you are offering, is the best kind of support and what they really need. Protect yourself and let him know you are there for him and help them to find ways to work this out.

In hindsight, I would have preferred just acceptance that I had made a mistake, perhaps have someone to just talk to, but as I say, there was no way that that was going to happen, so I kept my reasons to myself. I have seen first hand how intolerant they are to these kinds of things and they are just from a different time. They have zero understanding about drugs, addiction, gambling, anything like that and the last thing I needed was judgement because I was already at an all time low and self harming. I think that if I had the chance to talk all this out with them, if they were approachable, then maybe I could have resolved the gambling sooner. The money they gave me did nothing to help my addiction and if anything, gave me the flexibility to gamble some more. 


Do not look for blame here. There is none on your part and no guilt either. Know that what you offer them may not be what they want, but is most definitely what they need. Getting out of debt doesn't solve gambling problems. Changing your habits and solving your problems the right way, does.

Best wishes to you both.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Lost and Found
Posted : 21st January 2020 2:09 pm

Hi there,

I’d have to agree with everyone else. Offer full support but do not offer financial aid. Any bail out will only enable him to continue regardless of any promises he may make. Your son needs to enter a recovery program and rebuild his life. He is certainly young enough to do this and it could be the making of a very fulfilling and enjoyable life.


Posted : 21st January 2020 9:56 pm

Welcome to the forum and well done for reaching out. It was a wise decision. 

I am 41. I am a problem gambler. I had a similar amount of debt to your child. I work full time in a very responsible day job. I am a part-time student with the OU. I work two cleaning jobs in the evening (Monday to Friday) to pay back my gambling debts. I am 1/4 of my way to being debt free with the help of stepchange and a debt management plan they set up. My credit report is damaged but it will heal. So will I.  

If someone offered to pay my debts a year ago, I would've snatched their hands off but I wouldn't have reached out for the help and support that I have in this last year. I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of working extra to pay back what I owed. I am more responsible now than I have been in a long time. Not perfect like but I'm working on it.  

I have a future. Your child has one too. Guidance and help with the difficult calls and stuff is what they need. Not money. Money is just the fuel that we burn and we do burn it. Put out the fire. 

Love from Drama x

Posted : 21st January 2020 11:05 pm

Very simple one for me. Do not bail him out. 

I had £4k debt on a credit card due to my compulsive gambling. My parents gave me £4k to pay it off. Instead I paid half off and gambled the rest. Then gambled what I'd paid off on my credit card! 

Compulsive gamblers need to learn the hard way. Offer your love and support to help him become GF and as others have said, this is not your fault in the slightest.


Posted : 22nd January 2020 9:03 am
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