Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Parenting-Adult kikds bad choices.jpg
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Published on Nov 11, 2021
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Juliya Smith

Parenting Adult Children Who Make Bad Choices

Parenting adult children is not the same as parenting small kids. Parenting a small child is difficult, yet it is simple since you can be involved in their life. On the other hand, parenting an adult child is more difficult since you can't be as involved in their lives as you can with a small child.

When you see your grown children frequently treating you or others disrespectfully, making poor financial or career decisions, or making poor choices overall, it's sometimes difficult not to feel anger, guilt, and even bitterness toward them.


You begin to have doubts about yourself. As a parent, you might start to question yourself, “where did I go wrong?”

But, let's face it, it's not your fault; the adult child wants freedom, no interference in their lives, and your presence as a parent may be an issue for them.

If your grown child makes bad decisions, alters their behavior, and makes mistakes, this does not mean that "your child's regrettable choices make you a bad parent."

Here are some methods you can use to continue to be a guide for your adult child :

Responsibilities shift as the child grows. Accepting additional duties as a parent of an adult kid is important for the child's development, the parent-child relationship's well-being, and the parent's mental health.

When your grown child makes poor choices, it is their choice and decisions, their circumstances, and their mistakes, not the parents, who are to blame. Here are a few tactics that have shown to be effective.

1. Begin a conversation with them

As children grow older, parents will find it increasingly challenging to understand and communicate with them. Also, consider what is necessary to say; this is not the time for a lecture or an interrogation. Ask about what they're attempting to achieve. Express your concern about what they're doing or how they're performing.

Start a conversation with them about what is going on in their lives and college, and ask them if they are enjoying college life or not. Also, share your college life experience. Make your adult child feel at ease in your presence. Spend time together, watch movies with them, go on a family vacation; not just small children, but also grown children, cherish their parents' attention and care, even if they don't want their parents involved in their lives.

Make time for activities that you and your child like doing together. If you put in more effort to create memorable moments with your child, it can make a huge difference in your relationship with them. The parent-child relationship will be strengthened as a result of this.

2. Set clear borders

Setting limits with our adult children, particularly those who are clever, manipulative, and capable of making strong arguments, can be difficult. They do not want to be limited or restricted, yet it is important to do so. Setting limits is one of the most important things you can do to assist them in moving forward healthily. Consider the following boundaries, such as:

  • Make sure they understand. If they don't respect you or others, you won't tolerate that.
  • They can't accept responsibility for their actions in any way.
  • Make it clear to them that sitting and playing video games all day is not acceptable.
  • Agree on a time restriction for children to be out of the house.
  • To children, make it clear that lying is not accepted at home, regardless of how serious the problem or mistake is.

Setting limits with adult children can be difficult at first, but the more you do it and stick to them, the simpler it becomes. Boundaries also support the establishment of security and stability in grown children's lives and positive growth and development.

3. Stop enabling bad behaviors

Supporting an adult child's bad behavior is the worst thing a parent can do for them. Parents may be harming their children by constantly erasing the consequences of their actions or bailing them out of trouble. Sometimes parents unintentionally encourage their children's bad habits by overlooking their errors in the hopes that they will not repeat them.

Taking care of yourself and your mistakes is an important part of being an adult. Adult children's parents must let their children take care of themselves. Instead of covering or neglecting their mistakes, allow them to fix their errors, they should let them experience the natural consequences of their decisions.

Nothing has more impact than setting a good example. Parents are the earliest role models for children. So, make good decisions and show decent behavior. Do the things you'd like your child to do.

4. Tell them about your own experiences

If you're a parent, you'll have more life experience than your adult child because you've always seen more of the world than they have. So, if your grown child makes a poor decision, you may explain it to them by sharing your own experiences. Tell them about the mistakes you made and how you overcame them when you were their age. Tell them about your other life experiences and the lessons you've learned from your blunders.

Sharing experiences allows you to create memories, no matter how small or big, as well as allow your adult child to learn from your mistakes and provide opportunities for a healthy relationship between you and your grown child. You might encourage your grown child to share any experience they have while you are sharing yours. This will make it easier for your adult child to share information with you without fear of being interrogated.

5. Stop enabling your adult kids

Your responsibility as a parent never ends, but it does change depending on how old your child is. You're more of a coach or counselor on the sidelines as kids get older, rather than their manager. When your grown child begins to take advantage of your constant support, whether financial or emotional, confront them and tell them, "No more."

  • If they're bad with money, don't pay for their expenses.
  • Stop supporting their reckless and bad behavior.
  • If they're lazy and don't do anything, tell them to get a job.
  • Ask them to move out if they're living with you as an excuse not to work.

6. Support them emotionally

A child's and parent's bond ensures each other's emotional support. And it's evident that, while your child may appear to be a grownup in society, they can still be as emotional as children when they're near their parents.

Understand that humans make mistakes, and your grown child is no different than anyone else, and it's natural for grown children to make mistakes, whether it's choosing friends or browsing the Internet. So, when your adult child makes a poor choice, they are left in a difficult situation as well.

It is our responsibility as parents to help children understand their mistakes. If they make mistakes, instead of venting your anger and frustrations on them, try to understand them, give suggestions, and support them. It's necessary that you provide your child with your entire emotional support and remain available at all times.

  • Make sure you communicate with them frequently.
  • Make sure they don't lose their confidence.

7. Don't compare your child with others

When your child appears to be failing in school, it's natural to feel unhappy or worried since all parents want their children to succeed. It's not acceptable, though, to compare your child's academic success to that of his peers. Comparing your child to others, not only in school but also in other activities, does not encourage them to achieve anything; instead, it lowers their self-esteem and confidence.

Bagging them and constantly comparing them to others can make them feel worthless, leading to depression and suicidal thoughts. It's fine if your child makes mistakes; it's natural; but, constantly complaining about the same thing regularly can be toxic for children, which can affect their mental health as well.

8. Don't vent out your frustrations and anger on your kids

It can be incredibly frustrating to watch your grown-ups making mistakes, especially after making them aware of their mistakes. You just wanted to vent your anger and frustrations on them at the time, but it's never a good idea to vent out on them.

If you need to talk to your child, make sure you aren't just dumping your emotions on them. Instead, be cool and talk to them. Taking out your frustrations on them can only lead to more problems and separation.

A few additional tips for parents of adult children

  • Even if your child is an adult, they have no right to be aggressive toward you or others.
  • If they ask for it, offer them your help and advice.
  • Observe your child behavior
  • If you believe it is healthy and essential, continue to assist them as needed, but don't overdo it.
  • Allow them to continue on their path, just as you would like others to do for you.
  • If they aren't doing well, don't lose hope and try to help them.
  • Become a counselor rather than a Manager.


There will always be times when your children make mistakes, no matter how well you've raised them. Sometimes they'll be small issues, and other times they'll be major blunders. As a parent, the best thing you can do is help your child understand their mistakes and mentor them as best you can for the future. However, it is up to your adult child to take your counsel seriously.

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