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Learning To Let Go: What Every Parent Should Know About Their Adult Children

Updated on June 5, 2014

Let me start by giving a few credentials about myself. I am not a so-called ‘expert’ in relationships. I do not have a doctorate in human relations. I do, however, hold a degree in theology with an emphasis in human behavior. I have studied relationships and behavior for twenty plus years. The majority of what I have learned has been through ‘real-life’ interaction, not just theory taught in a classroom. I believe that understanding people and building healthy relationships is the key to success in life. When I say success, I do not mean wealth or reaching a status. Those things can be attained through relationships, and rightly so. I define success, however, not in wealth or status, but by enriching others, and in turn, being enriched by others. With that said, I would like to speak about a particular kind of relationship that if not handled properly, brings a lot of bitterness to all involved.

I am referencing the relationship between a parent and an adult child. In fifteen years of counseling and observation, I have found that this relationship is one of the most skewed. In most relationships, tension usually comes two ways: when there is a simple misunderstanding between two people, or when one person’s expectations of another is not lived up to. In the parent-adult child relationship (which I will refer to as the PAC), the latter is always the case. The former can cause light tension, but family usually moves past simple misunderstandings. That is not always the case with non-family relationships, which I will discuss in another blog. It is the area of expectations that we find bitterness brewing with the PAC. So is there one party at fault? As with most relationships, it takes two to tango. That being said, what I have seen repeatedly is that more times than not, the parent is to blame. I will discuss the child's issues in another blog but for now let’s look at the parents.

The Faulty Expectation of the Parent

Parents have a lot invested in their child…..money, time, memory, and most of all emotions. To most parents, their children are their world. What I have seen, though, is that most parents refuse to acknowledge the separation that occurs as their child moves into adulthood. It is the fact that they have so much invested that leads them to believe, subconsciously, that there are never any boundaries to be observed. To put it bluntly, after a child reaches eighteen years of age, the only rights a parent has in regard to input in that child’s life, is the rights that the child gives them. When a child is under age, a parent is free to give advice and direction whenever they choose. They can lecture at any given time. They can give their opinion at any given time. However, if that pattern continues after that age, it leads to bitterness. The child is sensing their independence and wants the freedom to live their life. So only at invitation does a parent of an adult child have the right of voice or opinion.

What if they live in your house? Well, certainly there have to be rules. Chaos should never be tolerated. In respect to your property, you always have the final say. My son just turned eighteen. He lives at home, but there is an understanding. I do not intrude in his life unless he asks my opinion. I do not tell him who he should date or not date, who he should have as friends, or what career path he should take. I do, however, have the right to determine who is allowed on my property, as well as the boundaries of using my property. He can’t just take things as he wishes, nor leave things lying around. The point here is that parents of adult children need to learn that the rules have changed. A continuance of unsolicited intrusion will cause a major disruption of the relationship. I find it amusing that most parents I talk to whose PAC is strained honestly think their child is ungrateful. The truth is the PAC is strained because the parent has overstepped their bounds. The faulty expectation is that they should always have uninhibited boundaries with their child, no matter the age.

Overcoming Faulty Expectations

So how does a parent overcome this faulty expectation? First, acknowledge the problem. Ask others, not the child, if you behave in this manner. Take the criticism, and adjust accordingly. When you feel the urge to give your unsolicited advice, simply stop and keep your comments to yourself. Recognize that your child is not a child anymore. They should be free to succeed or fail on their own. Here is a good way to look at it: how would you like it if someone did that to you? Finally, apologize to your child for your behavior. You would be surprised how far an apology would go. What if you do not have an adult child yet? When your child reaches age twelve or thirteen, begin to prepare yourself for that change in life. Recognize that they are getting older and determine how you are going to react when they reach adulthood. I call this ‘preparing your heart’. It is a simple meditation exercise that is very effective. The best part is that no one needs to know but you. It really is that simple.

Life Examples

I want to give you some ‘real-life’ examples of this faulty expectation. I know a man who has two daughters. He is very wealthy and is used to people doing what he tells them to do. I had a conversation with him and during the course of the conversation I asked him if he still had plans to sell a business he had. He said no, because when his youngest daughter married he was going to make her husband run the business. If this occurs, and the young man does not want to run the business, do you think it will cause some tension? He then went on to tell me how he decided which house his oldest daughter and son-in-law should buy. What is amusing is how he doesn’t understand why some people do not like him. He actually told me he thought it was because he was successful and wealthy!

Another example is of a couple I did premarital counseling with. Now, going into this I knew she was a ‘daddy’s girl’. I have known this family for a long time so I knew that about her. I talked to her about that during counseling. I explained that getting advice was okay, but not at the expense of her husband. She agreed. A couple of years later, I discovered they were getting divorced. I talked with both of them separately at their request. I got pretty much the same story from both. Her father was giving advice on everything. It began to make the husband angry because he did not ask for the advice. In his words, he got advice from him when he needed it, but did not want it on everything. Basically, the father gave his opinion on everything. It caused problems in the marriage two ways: first, the daughter should have stood her ground when advice was given without being asked. Second, the father should have kept his mouth shut until asked. The second would have prevented the need for the first. What happened was that when the father gave advice contrary to the husband, the daughter always sided with ‘daddy’. All of that could have been avoided by the parent. The marriage ended in divorce. They had a child together, so now we have a family that is split. I could go on and on with more examples, but you get the gist.

Let me say this so no one will misconstrue what I am saying. If you know your adult child is being abused, by all means step in. I have a fourteen year old daughter. When she becomes an adult she will be free to date and marry whomever she wishes with no unsolicited input from me. However, if her boyfriend and/or husband of choice manhandles her, I am getting involved for her safety. So I am not saying to overlook extremes. I am saying to let your adult children be adults.

I hope this has been informative. Please look for my other posts about relationships.

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      Praj 18 months ago

      Hey hi!,

      I too am my parents very loved daughter, and I have faced a similar problem as u gave in your life examples. I have been in a relation from 7 years. I was 22 when I started dating. My parents kept forcing me to leave the guy for 3 years without meeting him. I still kept meeting him lieing to my parents. Getting fedup to my stubbornness they decided to meet him, and they weren't pleased with his parents but were ok with my bf. They asked them to have a house of their own as they were staying in a rented house, my bf took efforts of buying one after 1 year in the outskirts of city we live in, coz it was expensive to buy house somewhere near the city. I appreciate it, my parents too appreciated it, but now after 6 years they say that how will you travel to work after u get married? When I have decided to get married to them with their consent , how on earth do the have to bother me on how will I live my life? Still I made efforts to make them understand what could be done. They wernt convinced and asked me to rethink. Later they made decsion that I better get married in the next 4 months, which when I told to my gf he said, he wasnt yet ready as he needs a little more time to settle things for us financially. I was a little worried with his statement as I knew my parents wont listen to this explanation, so I tried to pressurize him to agree by saying the same thing that its now or never. He was taken aback as I was considering my parents concern, so our relationship got bitter, he wanted me to make my parents realize they were doing wrong, but since I have never said anything to my parents which makes them feel insecure interms of their child doesnt value them anymore kind of thoughts, I couldnt do much. now I dnt know what to do. how do I still have both sides happy.

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      Hurt mom 2 years ago

      My child just informed me that she made the decision to transfer college and move 7 hours away where her boyfriend of two years lives with his family. I don't care for this boy at all. She has so much going for her. She has a full academic scholarship but doesn't care. Boyfriend doesn't work or go to school. Total bum!! His parents think the world of my daughter and are rolling out the red carpet for her. I am beside myself. How do I deal with this?

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      lilly 2 years ago

      I'm not sure if my mother has a right to be offended here and I'm not being considerate enough or if, as I feel, I have the right to feel as though she isn't respecting me. I changed my legal name due to traumatic events in my past, I am trying to create a then and now in my life as I have come a long way with dealing with issues this has left me with and the name my mother gave me was a constant reminder of where I used to be and to enable me to grow I felt I needed to leave that behind. However having explained this to my mother she keeps maintaining that I have done this to spite her and that I have rejected everything she ever gave me and that I'm a selfish and inconsiderate daughter. She refuses to use the name I have chosen and further more refuses to allow people, such as my brother, flat mates and friends, to use it around her. The problem is that anytime I try talking to her she acts as though I am attacking her and claims I am causing her depression and I have to walk away. Now I know this is untrue and this her manipulating me and people around us, it is not guilt that makes me walk away but I get so angry I worry about the consequences of staying around her. I am not sure how to get her to acknowledge that while this may not be easy for her I have spent the last eight years dealing with a trauma and finding ways to cope with the aftermath, this decision was made after three years of discussing options with a counsellor and not a spur of the moment because I felt like it. I'm 25 and I don't live with my parents I don't ask for their help with anything as I work full time and study part time so I am perfectly capable of supporting myself I don't understand why she thinks that she has to treat me like a child who cannot make their own choices. Currently I am barely speaking with my family because it is causing me so much stress but I would like to find a way to make her understand what she is doing as I do not want to completely cut off from everyone other than my brother which is the direction this is currently going as no one else in my family will say anything or argue with her decision.

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      Randall Rittenberry 2 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Let him go....if you haven't done anything wrong it is his issue. If you try to force a relationship it will just get worse. When he comes around on his own, and they usually do, it will be a true relationship. I know that can be hard, especially as a mother. We would be that way with non-family members, but sometimes we think the rules are different with family. They are not. Is it harder to let family member go than a non-family member? Absolutely! But if you don't then you are inviting misery on a whole new level. Hope this helps, and sorry to hear about this situation.

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      Randall Rittenberry 2 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Why didn't you just tell your mother to mind her business? It sounds like there is more here than just her being over-protective. By giving in, you are accepting and enabling her attitude. I have news for you: she is never going to approve of anyone you date and it is not her place to do so. Stand your ground, and stand up to her. What's more important...her approval or your happiness? As a grown man you are wrong to allow her to treat you like a child...take your stuff and chaperone you? Sometimes we just have to grow a set. I have had to do the same thing with my father and my in-laws at times. They get over it.

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      hot dorkage 2 years ago from Oregon, USA

      29 yr old son, lives away, has done mostly since graduating HS. Have seen him on/off in those 11 yrs, including a stint when he stayed back at the old home place but he has been an hour away since 2009. I was seeing him regularly for lunch this past year, but it became clear in spring he was not into it so I quit telling him when I was down. I had business in his neck of the woods was every 2-3 weeks and sometimes he said no and sometimes I couldn't anyway and that was OK, so maybe we had lunch 6 or 7 times since last Oct. Anyway.... No contact for past 6 months. The last thing I remember saying to him that may have pissed him off is that he told me of some "friend" who was engaging in criminal activity in a way that could implicate him. I warned him that it was probably a good idea to distance himself from that or he could get sucked in and do time. Other than that all was civil and small-talk. well 6 months gone by so I sent him a birthday card on his B-day signed "love, Mom" now he says he will call the cops if I contact him again. I am not worried about the cops because I have never done anything to even remotely threaten him and that is so full of crap that it's unbelievable, but I am heartbroken by the sentiment expressed in that message. I guess he doesn't want an Xmas card..... Please advise...

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      Jonathan 2 years ago

      I'm 35 years old, and an only child. I moved out from home when I was 19, but after my father passed away a couple of years ago, my Mom and I both fell onto financial hardships. We decided to help each other by selling each of our places, and moving in together to help save some money; but always with the intention of be being on my own again.

      I've always been very close with my Mom, and she's always been supportive in everything that I've chosen to do with my life. Everything that is, except for dating. I've always had low self esteem when it comes to women, as I don't consider myself attractive or anything special. And there's always been this underlying fear of my Mom's expectations of who I date, even as a teenager and as an adult; so I've always kept quiet about girls, never mentioning what kind of woman I'm even attracted to. Or when asked by family and friends why I'm not married or have a girlfriend, I always simply brush it off with a comment like, "I'm too busy", or "I'm never getting married, it's not for me", which always in my heart has been a lie. Part of me feels embarrassed admitting to my Mom (and to everyone else) that I do want a relationship.

      Earlier in the year I started hitting it off with this woman at my health club. But on my first date with her, as I was walking out the door, my Mom asked where I was going. I told her that I was going out for dinner with a woman I met at the club. And her response to that was, "Fine, go out with your hooker." And it wasn't said in a sarcastic way either, she was quite miserable about it. When I got home later that evening, my Mom was quite angry with me, and she started yelling at me for going out and spending money on some woman, money we don't have! I told her I paid for her $13 dinner with my own money, but it didn't matter to her. I had no business going out on a date.

      Regardless of my Mom's reaction, I continued to see her anyways. And the more I saw of her, the better my Mom's attitude got. Maybe it wasn't going to be so bad after all, and she just need time to adjust. I told her more about the kind of person she was, and how we enjoyed each others company. We dated for about a month, when my Mom said she wanted to meet her. So plans were made and the three of us went for dinner. I really couldn't gauge how things were going throughout meal, and I was nervous about the entire situation, but things seemed to be going okay. At one point, my girlfriend gently and briefly touched my arm, twice. No other physical contact was made between us during that time. After the evening was over and my Mom and I went home, the next couple of days were a disaster. My Mom called her everything in the book, and how she was just using me or sex (even though we still hadn't slept together). Or that she was too old for me (she's four year's older than I am), and that she expected better from me. She kept making all these judgments about her, none of which were true. And then she brought up the fact that she put her hand on my arm during dinner, and that "she kept pawing" at me. My Mom said she had no business touching me like that, especially when we've only been dating for a month. God forbid she knew about the hot and heavy make-out sessions we've had in my car. But I was stunned, heartbroken and hurt. And in the end, she didn't approve of my girlfriend, and pretty much told me to end it.

      My girlfriend told me that she had suspected that my Mom didn't like her at dinner. She said we could continue seeing each other if I wanted, but she wouldn't be kept a secret. That lasted about a week. I went to lunch and a movie with friends the following weekend, and invited my girlfriend to meet them. I wanted my friends opinions of her. Maybe my Mom was right? My friends thought she was lovely and that my Mom was just being overprotective and overstepping her bounds. A few days went by, and my girlfriend called me, and my Mom blew up. She asked why she was still calling me, and she thought that I had ended it over a week ago. My Mom then asked if she came to lunch and the movie with my friends. By this point I didn't have a choice, and I lied, and told her that she wasn't with us. My Mom was telling me that she was going to start chaperoning me with my friends, to the health club where I met my girlfriend, and even threatening to get a hold of my phone records, as she wanted to know what I could possibly be texting with this woman all the time. (My personal phone that I pay for). She then started lecturing me about sex, as if I was 14 years old, and telling me that I needed to find someone who was my own age, and who was still a virgin. It was at this point I realized there was no way I could continue this relationship with this girl. And neither one of us wanted to keep it a secret. So what choice did I have, I had to end it. My girlfriend was hurt, but understood the situation I was in. She did however leave me with one thing that I took to heart. She told me that she knew the kind of girl my Mom would approve of... herself. And I think she may be right about that.

      It's only been a couple of weeks since I broke it off, and it hurts, it hurts a lot. This entire ordeal with my Mom has me deeply depressed. Everyone tells me I should just move out, but I can't, not yet anyways. I'm not in a financial position where I'm able to do that, nor is my Mom able to live on her own again until we have some of the money issues resolved. But even if I did move out, even to the other side of the world, it seems as if she's never going to approve of anyone. My Mom is the only family that I have left, and I love her dearly, but this entire situation has made me incredibly resentful of her, and fearful and sad about the possibility of being alone for the rest of my life. Yet my Mom has always said "one day, when I get married". But how is that supposed to happen if I can't even date?

    • RandallOnTheMove profile image
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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @Joyce Taylor...I am not sure I understand the relevance of your comment to this hub.

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      Joyce Taylor 3 years ago

      I suffer from PTSD and just about the whole family suffers from bipolar disorder. We were born into a very selfish home with two parents who would rather drink in the bars and leave us home alone or in the car all day and night with no food or water, I am the youngest and was 3 when I started having panic attacks but back then they didn't know enough about this to get a real diagnosis so most of us go threw a life of hell.

    • RandallOnTheMove profile image
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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @nightwolf3000.....that is tough. My advice would be to help with the baby things, but nothing else. Just say no. I feel bad for your grandchild because he/she is an innocent victim here. I am seeing this way too often in today's culture among young people. I think a good dose of reality is what is needed. So just say no on the help unless they are trying to work and do for themselves. On a side note, it is possible your son's anxiety and depression lies in the fact he isn't contributing to his own life. My son has similar issues, but it won't change until he takes responsibility for himself.

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      nightwolf3000 3 years ago

      I'm hoping to get some advice. Reading this article and all the posts has already helped me some. I have a 20 year old son that has anxiety and depression issues, didn't graduate high school and refuses to work. We let his girlfriend who had no place to live come stay with us and she would work here and there but couldn't hold a job long before either quiting or getting fired for not going to work everyday. We provided everything for them while they lived with us for a year and we decided last year that they needed to move out if they weren't going to get jobs and set goals to do something with their lives. She was pregnant at the time so they were able to get low income housing and food stamps, she has had 2 different jobs (customer service call center) in the last year and she calls in sick and makes up stories not to go into work. I don't know how she hasn't gotten fired because she is home more than she is at work. The baby is now 6 months old and of course I think the world of my grandbaby. I honestly don't think they have bought anything for the baby. I buy diapers and wipes when they are on sale in bulk and give them to them, her grandparents bought the bed but everything else I've bought. I don't pay their bills but if they run short I'll fill up their gas tank or buy them food. They always spend what little money they have on my son for video games or something he wants. They have no money saved and are pregnant again. They are always behind on their bills and complain about it to me all the time. My sons anxiety got so bad recently that I had to get him into a therapist and got him medication, our health insurance plan has a large co pay so I'm paying $160 a month for him to see the therapist so he can feel better plus the cost of meds. I have accepted that he doesn't want to work and that he wants to be a stay at home dad, but how am I supposed to feel when I find out she is skipping work and not getting paid for this time off and putting herself into a situation to get fired. They make up lies saying she is going to work but then I find out about it, now they are upset with me because they feel like I'm stalking them. When I tell my son that I'm not going to help them anymore because they aren't helping themselves then he just stops calling me and gets mad. The thought of not seeing my grandbaby really upsets me (I see her almost everyday). I don't know how to set boundaries of not helping them without it hurting our relationship. Does anyone have any advice?

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      NIGHTWOLF3000 3 years ago

      I'm hoping to get some advice. Reading this article and all the posts has already helped me some. I have a 20 year old son that has anxiety and depression issues, didn't graduate high school and refuses to work. We let his girlfriend who had no place to live come stay with us and she would work here and there but couldn't hold a job long before either quiting or getting fired for not going to work everyday. We provided everything for them while they lived with us for a year and we decided last year that they needed to move out if they weren't going to get jobs and set goals to do something with their lives. She was pregnant at the time so they were able to get low income housing and food stamps, she has had 2 different jobs (customer service call center) in the last year and she calls in sick and makes up stories not to go into work. I don't know how she hasn't gotten fired because she is home more than she is at work. The baby is now 6 months old and of course I think the world of my grandbaby. I honestly don't think they have bought anything for the baby. I buy diapers and wipes when they are on sale in bulk and give them to them, her grandparents bought the bed but everything else I've bought. I don't pay their bills but if they run short I'll fill up their gas tank or buy them food. They always spend what little money they have on my son for video games or something he wants. They have no money saved and are pregnant again. They are always behind on their bills and complain about it to me all the time. My sons anxiety got so bad recently that I had to get him into a therapist and got him medication, our health insurance plan has a large co pay so I'm paying $160 a month for him to see the therapist so he can feel better plus the cost of meds. I have accepted that he doesn't want to work and that he wants to be a stay at home dad, but how am I supposed to feel when I find out she is skipping work and not getting paid for this time off and putting herself into a situation to get fired. They make up lies saying she is going to work but then I find out about it, now they are upset with me because they feel like I'm stalking them. When I tell my son that I'm not going to help them anymore because they aren't helping themselves then he just stops calling me and gets mad. The thought of not seeing my grandbaby really upsets me (I see her almost everyday). I don't know how to set boundaries of not helping them without it hurting our relationship. Does anyone have any advice?

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      LotusFlower75 3 years ago

      Randall - Thanks so much for your response! You have no idea how much your brief paragraph just helped me. I have received so much judgment because I chose to separate myself from my family. I've had so many people tell me that family should come first, no matter what and that you should always stick by family no matter what. Like you said, it's the idea that you're supposed to stay loyal to family even if you're miserable. I have never felt that way, and I always believed that I had the right to have some kind of peace in my life even if that meant no longer being part of my family. None of family members seem to understand, and they simply view me as being difficult or weird. I have 3 older siblings, and they have all chosen to remain close to the family and even moved back to the little town where we grew up to be near our parents. They like to pretend that none of the dysfunction and abuse we grew up in ever happened, and that we're just one big happy family. The way we grew up was not normal or healthy, but I was quickly hushed and dismissed whenever I tried to discuss it with my mother or my siblings, like they thought I was just trying to start trouble. I've always been the one who wants to discuss things and get to the truth, while the rest of my family prefers a sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened approach. It's such a bizarre situation, and I often feel completely alone in trying to make any sense of it. I have carried around a lot of guilt for choosing to remove myself from my family, especially since I don't personally know anyone who has gone through anything similar. My mother was good at laying on the guilt as well. I'll never forget 10 years ago when I first met my spouse, and I told my mother that my spouse made me the happiest I had ever been. She did not express joy that her daughter was happy. Instead, her response was, "Even happier than when you lived with me?" Why would a mother do that?! Why not just be happy that your child is happy? After all these years, I am finally starting to realize that I don't have to feel guilty for choosing my own peace of mind over my dysfunctional family. Thank you again for this article, and for making me feel a little less weird for not being close to my family.

    • RandallOnTheMove profile image
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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @LotusFlower75,

      Your experience is why I wrote this article to begin with. As a counselor, I am always confronted with this situation. I have also seen this happen on a more personal level...not with my parents, but a lot of my close friends and other family members. I think the thing that always bothered me was that the people who want to control their adult children are usually the same ones complaining about their parents trying to control them. I understand the need to separate yourself as well. Too many people use the excuse of family to justify their behavior, or stay miserable because of a sense of loyalty. I had a situation recently where I had to take a stand against a family member, and I was willing to walk away from that part of my family if I needed to do so. Life is too short to be miserable. If reconciliation isn't possible, I will take my peace any day. Hang in there!

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      thelma 3 years ago

      My daughter was dating this boy and he try to control her and she up with him and his parents thinks she's wrong for breaking up with him now

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      LotusFlower75 3 years ago

      Randall - I, for one, thank you very much for this article! I see that there are some parents on here who take issue with what you wrote. Those are probably the ones who need to heed the information you provided here the most. If a parent is allowing their grown, adult child to still live with them, then that's on them. And I'm referring to adult children who are mid-20s or older, not teens to early 20s which is typically college aged young adults. If someone is old enough to be working and out on their own, then they should do so. Why allow them to stay in your home and then complain about how much you hate having them there? Make them take responsibility for their own lives.

      I find your article particularly helpful when it comes to adult children who DON'T live with their parents, but the parents still feel like they need to butt in and tell the "child" how to live, what choices to make, etc. The child has the right to say "enough already!" I am a woman in my late 30s, and my situation got so bad that I essentially cut off all contact with my mother for the past couple of years. I have never felt so at peace! I know a lot of people will think I'm a horrible daughter, but I really don't care. I got tired of her constant criticism and unsolicited advice. She never listened to me, and constantly disrespected my boundaries. I just got tired of it. I grew up in an extremely unhealthy home environment, and it never ceases to amaze me that my mother who made so many horrible choices for herself (and by extension, her children) thinks that she has any right at all to criticize my choices. In addition to being an adult child, I am also her youngest. And for some parents, they seem to always view their youngest as a baby. I am nearly 40 years old. At what point do they realize that I am an intelligent, mature adult capable of handling my own life? What's interesting is that although I'm the youngest, I am the only one who has actually moved out of the state we grew up in. I was the first to go to college, and I'm the only one who has traveled extensively and experienced things that most of my family never imagined. Yet for some reason, they seem to refuse to view me as the woman I am today instead of the child they remember from decades ago. To the woman who said maybe adult children should listen to their mothers, well I say maybe it's the mothers who should listen to their adult kids. Your children have already spent 18 years listening to you. Don't think that you can't learn anything from your child just because you're the parent.

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      I think so, if that is how you feel, for now anyway. There may come a time when you may change your mind, and that is ok as well. More than likely this will be a passing interest for her and him. It is rare that much of an age difference works out.

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      evelynjo 3 years ago

      How would you handle your 22 year old daughter dating/moving in with a 52 year old man? Twice divorced, recovering alcoholic? She is living on her own, so I know there is nothing I can do about who she chooses to date, but I do not want this man (who is my age) at any family functions. I am never going to accept him (I have met him). I know it might mean losing my daughter and I feel that is ok. She has changed a lot and I hardly know her anymore. Do I just leave her alone?

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Thank you

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      Anne Gillingham 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank God: a balanced, normal article about this topic.

    • RandallOnTheMove profile image
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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      I think you have the right to choose whether to babysit or not regardless of what they think.

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      tierd in la . 3 years ago

      m my past as excusey problem is my mom never protected me as akid .now my adult kids use that as an excuse to say i use my mom as excuse to not babysit .i have told them because my nerves is to bad to keep kids .so iam using my past as an excuse. i feel because i have no family or friends.my kids use this to get their way .what do u think

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Unfortunately, I see this a lot. In my own life, my parents didn't try to control me, but my father was a constant source of criticism. He never gave opinions on finances, life goals, parenting,etc., but he was always tearing me down as a person. He would make snide comments, and outright humiliate me in front of others. I finally made a decision to not be around him except when I absolutely had no other choice; usually holidays. That went on for about 10 years, and then he finally brought up the fact that I didn't spend time with him and he wanted to know why. So we had a long talk, and I told him in no uncertain terms that the behavior he had towards me was unacceptable. It worked out; today we have a good relationship. But I had to make a choice for my own emotional health, and my family's as well, not to allow anyone into my life who caused me pain. That is hard to do sometimes, but I believe it is the only choice we have at times to be able to function in a healthy manner. Now keep in mind that she has issues as well, and most of the time your mother isn't just picking on you. It is probably a by-product of her own insecurities. That will help you to have compassion, but it still doesn't excuse the behavior. I would have a talk with her about it;let her know how it makes you feel. If she is unwilling to listen, then you may have to walk away, at least for awhile.

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      Me 3 years ago

      This article is fantastic. I'm dealing with a lot from my mom lately. I'm 27 with three kids, my husband and I are thriving on our own, and it's almost as if my mother resents this. She is constantly telling us we aren't doing good enough and honestly I would be fine with the criticism she calls advice (I've been dealing with that forever.). Where I am having an issue though is that she never has anything nice to say and if I dare to contradict her,even politely, she isn't shy about screaming at me for being a bitch along with a string of other horrible and out of line things. Worst of all she isn't shy about doing this in front of my kids. I am at a loss for how to deal with her at this point short of cutting ties with her. There are other issues as well but this one bothers me most of all. As a mother I just can't imagine spewing such hateful things at my children even when they are grown up.

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      The advice I would give you is going to run counter to our current culture. It is simple.....it is your home and you get to make the decision. I understand she may have anxiety and depression, but that does not give her the right to hold you and your property captive. This is a great time to put your foot down and say no. This will do two things: 1) it reinforces that you are the authority in the home. Remember, I stated in the article that you have the right to decide what happens on your property, regardless of how old your child may be. 2) it sends her the message that she can't use her condition as means to manipulate others into getting what she wants. This is very critical. I hope this helps.

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      AngeC123 3 years ago

      Would love advice here.. my adult daughter has returned home to go to college near home. Her anxiety and depression issues made dorm life very difficult for her and she just did not do well. We have a dog, and now she wants another pet to "help with her depression" I personally do not want another pet in the house. I do not want the added expense and have to take care of it when she is out of town. I get so much anger and hate for saying no, its like when she was ten. Any ideas on how to deal with this, or do I just suck it up and live with an angry person?

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @ Jane...."I guess I do not entirely agree that parents should't discuss these issues with their adult kids.' I believe these things should be taught before adulthood. After adulthood, we have no right to tell them anything unless they ask. I would ask that you ask yourself how you would feel if you were an adult and your parents just hounded you with advice all the time, or intruded into your life, or had anopinion on all things 'you'.

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      Randall Rittenberry 3 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @Jane and Missy,

      I think you have missed the point of this article. The article is talking about boundaries, and I actually touched on the issues you both state, but it was very brief and toward the end of the article. It is directed more towards adult children who are on their own. I still see issues between some of my friends with meddling and controlling parents, and they are in their mid-40's with grown kids of their own! That was the 'meat' of the article. Even with my son living at home, I feel it is not my right to say anything unless it affects the whole household. I do not believe in co-dependency nor enabling! Quite frankly,Missy, I have to ask why you are enabling that type of behavior from your son. Since it is your home, he either tows the line or gets out. Until you take that stance, you are only enabling your son. Missy, I couldn't agree with you more, but what a lot of parents do, and I have seen this increasingly the past decade, is continue to bail their kids out. I believe a person should suffer consequences for bad decisions. That was how it was when I was growing up! Unfortunately, our society, and government, have fostered an environment in our country that doesn't allow people to suffer for not being responsible. I have a second part to this which covers this subject in reverse. I may need to update it because I think both of your comments had great points to learn from. Thanks for your input and for reading! Even if you don't agree, I appreciate you taking the time.

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      Missy 3 years ago

      @Jane - I couldn't agree with YOU more. This article rather rubs me the wrong way. My son, who made the mistake of getting married and having a child too young, is now getting divorced and living with ME. I am supporting him, driving him around and providing free babysitting services. I want him OUT in the worst way because of the way he treats ME. HIS choices were HIS. Why should I have to pay for them or adjust my life and attitude to fit HIS bad choices? My life has gone to CRAP in every way since he moved in with me and there is constant stress and tension from an ADULT child who is acting like he is a teenager in high-school again.

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      Diane 3 years ago

      I have been married for 28 years and have a meddling mother! My husband has 2 kids from a previous marriage who my mother has become obsessed with due to accusations she made 20 some years ago. Instead of dealing with her guilt she has bought and enabled one to the point of stunting her growth. She has been to our counsellor once a few weeks ago and said she has done nothing wrong and it is basically her way or the highway! It is pretty hard to raise a responsible and accountable child when there is someone meddling and going behind your backs constantly. I am at my wits end and have decided that my relationship with her can no longer go on. We last spoke 2 months ago and I am struggling with the fact that a mother would ever let someone come between their child and themselves. We have two children of our own and I would never let that happen! Power is money to my mother and that is how she has conducted her whole life - buying gifts, cars, etc. to get the support of family members who know there is a problem, but will not stand up to her. Any suggestions???

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      jane 3 years ago

      If these adult kids are so grown up and make such good decisions, then why are so many living at home? They are on our health insurance until 26 yrs. and most cannot afford to repay loans, drive a car, etc. Kids today are entitled and want our lifestyles. They do not understand that it does not just happen overnight It takes hard work . Many kids I work with today have poor work ethics and lack competitiveness. Many feel strongly about making personal statements- they may think it is acceptable to sport tattoos and piercings but it will not help them on the job front. Also, the hookup culture is pervasive with this generation and is impacting their abilities to have meaningful long-term relationships. The 24/7 technology may be convenient but has replaced oral and written communication.I feel that we have been too lenient with our kids. I guess I do not entirely agree that parents should't discuss these issues with their adult kids. Maybe more kids should listen to their parents. Otherwise, find some place else to live!!

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      Randall Rittenberry 5 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @ Someone. How old are you? You said you are a teen, but are you an adult as in 18 or 19?

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      Randall Rittenberry 5 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      @ Thomas....I have a 19 yr old and go through the same thing. I usually don't give him advice unless he asks.

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      Thomas 5 years ago

      My adult children still live with us. The problem I am having is that my kids will not listen to a damn thing I tell them. I have lived a rather worldly life. I have seen things, and frankly, done things that 90% of the populace has not. Yet, my kids act like I'm a dumb ass everytime I open my mouth. Just this morning my wife and I have decided...."NO more advice!" That's it! From this point on when asked...."I don't know." is going to be my response. Let them learn it the hard way. I had to.

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      Someone 5 years ago

      My father is the same. I am a teen, and he comes into my room everyday (I'm a girl, btw) and stares. Now, in the room of a teen, there are obviously things that one does not want other people to see. So him being here causes me to get annoyed. Then, when my mom tells him to leave, he leaves after saying how he won't disturb me. And it makes me feel guilty. Really guilty. But tomorrow, he does the same thing again. And again, and again. It has almost gotten to the point where I try to avoid him, and I don't want that to happen. It's not like I hate him, but he uses words like 'still a baby', 'my love'... and seriously, it kinda creeps me out. Then he'll mention how when I was young, I would go running to him for everything. This happens many times. Almost everyday, in fact. But when I try to tell him how I need my privacy, he just brushes it off. Could I have some help, please?

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      Randall Rittenberry 6 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      I am glad you are thinking about this now. i did the same thing when my children were that age, and I was able to deal with the emotions involved before they got out of hand. My kids know that they can come to me about anything, but it has to be at their invitation.

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      CheapDaisy 6 years ago

      I am 34 years old and I experience this almost everyday from my mother. I have been screaming...boundaries...for a few years now but I feel so emotionally dependant on having a realtionship with her that I find myself in this cycle. Now that I have two girls of my own (4 and 2) I am constantly talking to my husband and thinking about what type of mother I should be once they are wives and mothers. I could say so much more. EXCELLENT HUB EXCELLENT!

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      Randall Rittenberry 6 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Thank you all for the kind comments.

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      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Excellent hub and nice reminder to me as a parent of adults that my children have grown into functioning human beings. To me they will always be my babies but I know I need to recognise them as adults and respect their choices.

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      GetInTheKnow 6 years ago

      As a mother I can see how easy it is to want to step in and fix all their "Troubles". As someone who was young once I can also see how much of a negative impact that can have. A lot of people don't realize that by not allowing our young adults to take control of the responsibilities and choices in their lives (obviously there are some exceptions i.e. when safety is involved) we can easily be setting them up for heart-ache or a failure to thrive so-to-speak. Those actions do not promote independence and as an adult independence is something you have to learn to succeed - in most cases.

      Great info!

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      John Nelson 6 years ago

      Good stuff Randall...perfect timing!...I have 3 adult daughters and we are having these issues now. Thanks for the advice!