Angela Lacalamita, LCPC View Entire Blog

Dependent Adult Children

One of the many challenges with parenting is setting limits with your adult children. As parents you want to protect your children from the disappointments and challenges that life may bring. Supporting your children through their early developmental stages is crucial to their growth and development. However, when you begin to continuously rescue them from their problems and/or overlook their lack of contribution to the household, you are potentially fostering dependent children. Protecting your adult children from the challenges and struggles that life brings may prevent them from developing the necessary skills to care for themselves and become self-sufficient. How do you know when to say “No “? When do you allow them to experience some consequences for their actions? One way to know the answer to this question is to ask yourself the following questions: Am I beginning to feel resentment, burden and anger for everything I am doing for my child? Am I beginning to feel emotionally and physically exhausted? Am I scared to say “No”? Is your adult child beginning to make demands or use guilt when they are not being given what they want? Are you putting you own happiness and opportunities aside for your child? If you have answered “ Yes ” to any of these questions, you may want to explore ways in which you can motivate and foster your adult child’s independence.

Protecting your children is only a small part of parenting. It also involves preparing your children for adulthood. When is it the appropriate time to foster independence? Once your children graduate from school or decide to no longer pursue an education, is the time for them to work toward becoming self-reliant. This does not mean that you have to ask them to leave your household. However, they should be working toward autonomy. At times, a variety of reasons contributes to adult children returning home. Allowing your children to return home is acceptable as long as steps are taken to encourage their independence, i.e. contributing to a fair share financial and household responsibilities. If your adult child is becoming dependent, you may have to motivate them and/or force them to become independence. Here are some things to consider.

Impose household rules for curfew, telephone and TV use and chores. Give them the choice of following the rules or leaving.

Require working children to contribute part of their salary for room and board. If you do not need the money, then consider saving it for your child to use when they are on their own.

Helping your child financially should be contingent on their efforts toward developing independence. If you are helping them financially, consider paying off past debts as opposed to providing living expenses.

Set a time limit on how long children can remain at home before you tell them to leave. If you tell your child that he or she needs to leave, it is very important that you follow through.

You have the right to say, “No, I have changed my mind” about a previous promise.

Set limits on how much time you spend helping your child resolve any problems. If your child asks for advice, encourage them to offer ideas.

Be aware that your child may be angry and possibly reject you. He or she will most likely come around later.