Set limits on helping the kids
According to the Women of Wealth study, more than 80 percent of women who are either married or divorced expect they will have to help one of their children in crisis at some point.
Even if your grown-up kids never ask for a bailout, paying for their college education can be financially draining if you don't plan carefully. Have some conversations early on about what choices will work best for your family situation: whether to select a public or private institution, whether you should pay for graduate school, whether the student should work during college.
"It's not just about running the numbers, it's about facilitating the discussion and managing the expectations of everybody involved," Ettinger says. "A really good adviser is going to be able to help you with that process."
As hard as it may seem, sometimes the best decision is to say "no" to your child's dream school, if the financial resources aren't there.
"Moms don't like to tell their kids no," Scharr-Bykowsky says. "I think sometimes (parents) make the mistake of just letting the kid pick the college based on factors that are nonfinancial. It could really hurt them in the long run."