It’s a general rule of thumb that parents want the best for their children, and they want their kids to achieve more than they achieved. However, we’ve seen a trend over the years where parents are helping their kids to their own retirement’s detriment. Here are four ways that the help your are providing to your children can unknowingly be ruining your retirement.

Paying their debt: Many parents feel responsible to ensure their children graduate from college debt-free. But at what cost? Remember, your college-aged children can borrow for school, but you cannot borrow for retirement. There have been instances in which parents have taken personal loans and gone thousands of dollars into debt for their kids’ college education. Meanwhile, paying that debt off may force the parents to retire later — or not at all.

Moving back home: It’s common for parents to allow their kids to move back after college while the recent graduates get on their feet. Even I did this for a year after I graduated. However, remember that every year they are at home is another year you are covering their expenses. It’s a good idea to set up parameters and a time frame around this, so you don’t end up with a freeloader for more years than you initially thought.

Grandchildren: I’ve only been married for three weeks, and my parents are already asking when they can expect grandkids. Welcoming a new generation into your family is a very exciting thing, but it’s also easy for the grandparents to end up footing the bill for their education and vacations. Make sure your adult children understand where you are financially, so they have an understanding of how you can help and how you can’t. 

Sibling vs. sibling: Don’t think that your children aren’t keeping score. Be very careful about what you give your kids if you aren’t willing to be equal. If you buy your first child a car, will the second want the same? What about the down payment on a house? Paying for a wedding? This is something crucial to pay attention to so you don’t overspend. 

The key here is communication. Life is about living and helping those you love. This article isn’t meant to shame you out of giving your kids a helping hand; however, it is key to communicate to your kids how you will and will not be able to help them to make sure your “freedom years” aren’t in jeopardy.

Allison Nye, Wealth plan design specialist at oXYGen Financial. Co-host of “They Don’t Teach You This” podcast. Connect with her at anye@oxygenfinancial.net.

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