Don't jeopardize your own finances in order to help your child, particularly if you’re nearing retirement age and have a fixed number of years to build up/resuscitate your savings plan. Borrowing from your 401(k) (if there’s anything left in there) or tapping a home equity line of credit to help pay off your kid’s debt isn’t a great idea.
Don't be afraid to pass judgment on your child’s debt. You’ve weighed in on everything from the cleanliness of their rooms to their Friday night date, so why should debt be any different? You may decide to treat student loans or health-care costs as worthy causes while credit card debt from that new flat panel TV is not. The last thing you want to do is enable them to continue what could be a vicious cycle of spending.
Treat a loan to your adult children as a full-fledged loan, complete with interest. (If that makes you feel guilty, you could always return the interest to them after the final payment as a surprise.) As with any loan, write down the terms of repayment and decide what the penalties should be for late or missed payments.