“Where Did I Go Wrong?” How to Handle Feeling Disappointment with Your Adult Child

Posted January 6, 2014 by

“I sacrificed for years to make sure my son had the best education possible. Now, he’s out of high school and working at a low level job and says he has no intentions of going to college.”

“My daughter never calls unless she wants something. Even then, she is rude to me!”

“My son is a slob! He doesn’t seem to care at all about how he looks or how his apartment looks. I just don’t get it. I didn’t raise him to be like this.”

It can be very painful to realize that the child you worked so hard to raise is not living up to their potential. Even more heartbreaking is the realization that you may not have a very good relationship with them. Sometimes these issues can make you feel like you’ve failed. As parents, we tend to think that if anything goes wrong with our kids, it’s our fault. Not only do we have the pressure we put on ourselves, we may also have well-meaning family members (and the rest of society) sending us those same blaming messages. But it’s more likely that you did the very best you knew how to do at each juncture in your child’s life. Some things may have been more effective, and some less effective, but you did your best.

Examine Your Own Feelings

I think it’s important to look at your own feelings in a more objective light. Are you feeling frustrated because your child is in a potentially harmful situation, or because the choices he or she made don’t fit in with your goals for their life? Culturally, we tend to value social status over personal fulfillment and happiness. So, if your child opts to go into a career that makes them happy, but does not necessarily provide a good living, we can feel like they are under-achieving. If you’re feeling this way, it might be helpful to take a step back and ask yourself which is better — having a child who is outwardly successful, or one who is inwardly happy? More importantly, whose life is it, anyway?

The reality is, this is now your child’s journey. Whether you approve of their career, their lifestyle, or their choice of life partner, it doesn’t change the fact that they now have the right to make their own choices. Along with that right comes the responsibility of those choices. This is what adulthood is all about. No matter what kind of upbringing a person has had, good or bad, there comes a time when they have to take responsibility for their own lives. This is easy for most of us when we’re looking at another adult who is not related to us, yet it can easily be blurred when that adult happens to be your child.

Have You Stumbled into an Ineffective Parenting Role?

As parents of adult children, we can still fall into some of those  less effective roles James Lehman talks about in the Total Transformation. We may find ourselves repeating the same patterns we did when they were children. For example, a parent may fall into the role of a martyr or savior, and constantly step in to help their adult child out of situations they have gotten themselves into. They may feel it necessary to help their child pay their rent, for example, even if that child is wasting their own money on drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, this is at a cost to our own well being. Or parents may find themselves being the Perfectionist. “My daughter could have gone to West Point when she graduated, but instead, she waited a couple years and then went to a local college.” (This was actually what my own mother used to say about me. I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be hurtful — she actually was trying to point out that I was intelligent. I just wasn’t putting it to good use, in her opinion.)

2 Points to Remember:

Aside from recognizing your feelings and acknowledging them, there are two important points to remember. The first is that there are very few black-and-white deadlines in life in regards to the path your child chooses. Every person has milestones in their life, and just as we mark early childhood milestones (the first time our child walks, talks, or uses the potty) we can also mark milestones in adulthood (the first car, first time living on their own, first serious relationship). Just like when your kids were younger, it’s important to realize that not everyone matures at the same rate.

This means that despite the fact that 18 is considered the “legal” age of adulthood, not every person who reaches 18 is truly ready for all the challenges of living independently. This is an individual choice each family needs to make, and there is no right or wrong. The key is recognizing if one of your boundaries is being crossed. In other words, are you helping because you truly want to, or do you feel like you are being taken advantage of? Generally, a good “gut check” can help you determine if a boundary has been crossed. If you feel at peace, you are probably okay. If however, you find you are unsettled, or resenting your child or the situation you are in, it may be time to look at things and make some changes.

The second and probably most important point to remember is that people are continuously growing and changing. Just because you don’t see the fruits of your efforts yet, it doesn’t mean you never will. One of the most inspiring examples to me is the story of James Lehman himself. As a young adult, he was using drugs, stealing, and eventually wound up in jail. Yet, fast forward a few years later, he went to college, got his Master’s degree, and began a life-long career of helping troubled youth and their parents. I’m sure he would say to any disheartened parent, “Game not over!”

6 More Tips for Parents of Adult Children

  1. Love the child you have right now and try not to lose hope if they aren’t doing well.
  2. Continue to maintain healthy boundaries.
  3. Even if your child is an adult, he or she does not have the right to be abusive to you or anyone else.
  4. Give them your support and guidance if they ask for it, but try not to force it on them.
  5. Continue to help them in appropriate ways if you feel it is healthy and necessary to do so.
  6. Give them the same space to follow their journey, just as you want others to do for you.

It is, after all, your child’s life. Your relationship with them will be vastly improved if you are able to let go of your expectations for them while never losing hope in their potential.


Jacqueline McDowell formerly worked as an Empowering Parents 1-on-1 Coach. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, she has worked in a diverse range of residential care settings with people who have been impacted by mental illness, cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as pregnant and parenting teens. She has a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Maine. She is the proud parent of an adult son, Jeremy.

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  1. Hurt Report

    I am disappointed, hurt and embarrassed mother. My son is angry, and miserable because of his choices, but takes it out on me. What do I do,

  2. Laverne Report

    I raised my son alone. I enrolled my son in the best school, took him to church ,and made sure he was only exposed to positive environments. I am disappointed, hurt and embarrassed. He is disrespectful, and resents his upbringing . He has a blue collar, low paying job that he hates. He looks like a slob, and is very angry. He doesn’t have any friends. He is a father now, and I find myself doing for my grandaugher, because my son can’t afford to. But I’m tired of being used. What do I do?

    • Empowering Parents Coach Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach Report

      I hear you. It can be so hard when you try your best to raise a child to realize his full potential, yet he chooses not to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him. Although I hear how much you care about your son, as well as your granddaughter, I encourage you to keep in mind that your son is an adult, and a parent himself, at this point. Thus, he is able to make his own choices about his life, and he is also responsible for the outcomes associated with those choices. While you cannot force your son to make different choices, you can control your own actions and boundaries. Because your son is an adult, anything you choose to provide to him is considered a privilege and a gift, not a right or something to which he is entitled. If you are feeling hurt, angry and used, this is a good indication that you might want to evaluate your boundaries. You might find some useful tips in Failure to Launch, Part 2: How Adult Children Work the “Parent System”. Please be sure to write back, and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

  3. tammielpowell Report

    As the mother of a young adult estranged daughter, these articles are really helpful for me to read and re-read when I feel as though I get off-track with my emotions and focus. The advice I frequently either read or am given is to accept my daughter’s choices/decisions.   I get very conflicted about the term ‘acceptance’.  Are parents obligated to accept all the poor decisions their adult children choose to make?  How are we to demonstrate true acceptance for behaviors that conflict with our standards and values?   Guess I find myself pondering at what point does ‘accepting’ roll over to ‘endorsing’, which to me, seems like a suggestion to roll over and give up.  Thank you for your input.

    • rwolfenden Report

      tammielpowell Thank you for your question.  You make a great point that sometimes accepting your young adult’s choices can be difficult if you do not agree with them, or the values which those choices reflect.  From our perspective, acceptance does not mean endorsement.  Instead, acceptance means that you recognize that your young adult child is separate from you, and has the right to make her own decisions about her life, even those that you do not agree with.  It also means that you allow your daughter to experience the consequences which might arise as an outcome of those decisions.  I hope this explanation has been helpful.  Take care.

      • Usedup Report

        Found this site, thank you, do not think you can really understand how helpful your site is ……….unless you have been in this position and hope you never are I’ve been thru some brutal physical experiences and nearly died as a result, Nothing has hurt me as badly as my children’s choices. I am hacking thru each day…..barely

  4. Mom Needs Advice Report

    I am sorry to hear the stories that was shared under this topic. However, it sure feel good to read and share a mental connection with other parents who is willing to be real enough to share their stories.
    I raised 3 kids. Honor students, acheivers in sport, great speakers always chosen to represent their schools, well mannered, wearing the best of the best and groomed to the T type of children.
    I was PTA mom, Team Mom, girl scout and boy scout troop leader, business owner; well known and respected in our community. We attended church 3 days a week, held bible study at home, prayed before every meal and my children knew bible scriptures and were even given the tools to understand how to apply the scriptures to their lives. I read every book on parenting, hugged, kissed, encouraged, nutured, laughed with and despite my busy career, I made time to look in their eyes and listen to and enjoy them.
    Now they are ages 28, 24 and 20 – they have broken my heart, totally embarrassed me and at this point seems like they hate / despise me. Prostitution, Prison, Drugs, Abusive Relationship, Homelessness, Borrowing money, Stealing – are all apart of their lives making their bad choices my problems to bear.
    I ask, where did I go wrong? All 3 of mine are screwed up. I recently decided, enough was enough for me. No more bail outs, no more mamma to the rescue roles and for my oldest, because she has become so verbally disrespectful, she was told that she can never come back to live with me. Making that decision was hard, still hurts but it was necessary. Now. I can not see my grandkids ( my oldest child children) – and I am left feeling empty and lonely.
    But I am tired, just went through a painful divorce, ridding myself of an abusive husband. Recently, I bought me a 2 seater and a 2 bedroom condo. I am living alone for the 1st time ever in my life and I have peace. I am taking tennis and dance lessons and filling my days up with things that I enjoy. I have stpoppopped attending church, just feel like heaven let me down. But I feel torn, although I am doing what is best for my sanity – is it best for my family as a whole. Meaning, cutting off the financial strings, the midnight bail out calls, the my home being a revolving door, the smart mouth talking and the need to please them ALL.
    They say, Im hard, selfish and judgement – even toxic. Yet they want my money, support and to live off me. I’m tired, and enough is enough – what do you think?

    • rwolfenden Report

      Mom Needs Advice I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences with your children, and I’m glad that you are here.  https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parental-roles-how-to-set-healthy-boundaries-with-your-child/ are essential for any relationship, including the parent-child relationship.  This doesn’t mean that enforcing these limits is an easy process, though.  I’m glad that you are taking steps to take care of yourself during this time, as that will help you to stick with the boundaries you have set with your kids about not rescuing them anymore.  While natural consequences can be quite painful for kids and parents alike, they can also be effective teachers.  I hope that you will continue to write in and let us know how things are going for you.  Take care.

    • OleesaShapowal Report

      I am soo sorry to hear this!!
      Must be very painful for you… Bit I just admire your wisdom and strength in this situation!!! Divorce abusive husband after many years is heroic! (Personal experience)Finding wisdom to separate yourself from problems of your loved ones is another great challenge!! Wow!

    • Usedup Report

      Mom Needs Advice Am in similar place, raised my 3 girls like you , all 3 are 1 problem away from financial ruin.  Middle daughter had child out of wedlock then married father having another son now after 5 years in process of divorcée, no money for lawyers, just paid $2,600 I do not have for custody battle. Plan is to move back w/us in May 2017 w/2 boys………..biggest problem is lack of respect, sullen attitude w/me. Mom covering for her as did when teenager………oldest  makes an OK living but aint got 2 nickles to rub together, just had to buy her tires cause if she wrecked car here due to weather she could lose her job who do you think would have to make a decision about buying her a car? Youngest is a bit of a free spirit not really a problem, marriage is about done due to disagreements with wife over the ongoing divorce. I was injured and retired on a small pension so wife’s insistence to aid financially help daughter may be the final straw………… a divorce will destroy us both financially but  at this point I really do not care, good thing it’s against my faith…whats left of it to hurt ones self. Just hanging on hacking thru say by day….Please realize this, You are not alone.

    • Pennie Report

      Can’t chat as I have to go to work (UK) but I so feel and hear what you’re saying. Please do reply. My daughters 16 & 18 talk to me like I’ve been on this planet 5 seconds. They want me when it suits them, all sweet natures and then hours later in back to the mum they loathe. Breaks my heart ❤️

  5. Brady1974 Report

    My son is (26) years old and he’s constantly making irresponsible and reckless decisions. Whatever he can do to get attention he does it-good or bad. I’m so disappointed with the decisions he’s made/making. He’s the oldest and doesn’t show to be a role model to anyone. He is constantly talking about the purge, the antichrist, and working like slaves. Just simply no respect for my rules, my house, husband, children or me. He thinks he can come and go all times of the night. Notably, my husband nor I come in after 2:00 am.
    I’ve tried everything to help me get his life back. However, he’s so anger, bitter and entitled that he thinks I owe him. He continues to say he never had a dad he’s always had a step dad. Got this reason, I should allow him to be him and love him regardless. Yes, I will always love him but that doesn’t mean I have like or agree with what he does. His most recent outlash was tattooing his face. I just don’t know who he is anymore.

  6. A person Report

    Can you volunteer at their school or effectively reach them on social media? Having a grandparent/anyone who is supportive Is a Huge Difference to a teenager. They have an innate need to rebel against authority figures and it wouldnt be a terrible thing to use that energy to forge a better relationship. Just use your time wisely so it can withstand scrutiny from their parents.
    Use their natural instincts/feelings to help them.
    Source: Was a teen who rebelled into bad things to make parents mad. If their “rebellion” is visiting their grandmother then go you guys.

  7. Christine1967 Report

    We have a 30yr old daughter, only child, was loved and cherished her whole life,for yrs. Now she has been an addict on and off drugs,she is very mean has no respect for eithervof us,holds our 2 grandchildren as pawns, i have chosen to have minimal contact with her, i cant listen to her lies,and be the person she choses to attack with her words anymore. Its always our fault we were bad parents, but everyone knows how untrue this is,she goes from one person to another with her stories,and it always comes back to us. It breaks my heart to not talk to her,i miss her ,worry about her,but i know its what i need to do.when she is not using and taking her meds, she is the daughter we raised.

  8. vic Report

    I have a 31 yr old daughter and 26 yr old son, both still living at home.I am depressed because they are living life at my expense instead of working toward getting out on their own. my daughter has 3 kids but trying to live life like a teenager. i know they are grown but it’s hard not to loose hope when they have no priorities about themselves. and my wife is no help, she condones them in their wrong doing.

  9. Adult Children Disappointment Report

    […] “Where Did I Go Wrong?” How to Handle Feeling Disappointment with Your Adult Child – This is easy for most of us when we’re looking at another adult who is not related to us, yet it can easily be blurred when that adult happens to be your child. Have You Stumbled … formerly worked as an Empowering Parents 1-on-1 Coach. […]

  10. Ashamed Report

    I am so sorry there are many in the same situation as myself.  I feel so ashamed of my daughter.  She is an only child who has been loved and adored by me, her dad, and grandparents.  But she is a total selfish brat.  Yes that hurts to say.  She tries so hard to hurt people with her words.  She loves to go on and on about there being no God to her grandmothers and me.  We do not push our beliefs on her but she still feels the need to tell us we are stupid to think God really exists.  She has dropped out of college that was paid for by her father.  Last year her boyfriend graduated college and she moved out of state with him so he could attend medical school.  He is a wonderful guy but she is bad for him,  after going on vacation with his parents  and she went on and on about her no God beliefs (they are Catholic) his parents put the pressure on to break up, I can’t say I blame them.  She constantly put them down and told him they are evil and to stay away from them and now he is thinking about not continuing his studies because she says doctors are just money hungry and don’t care about people, she is getting bored with him and I think they may have finally broke up.  That is her MO with her friends. She alienates them from their families and convinces them she is the only one capable of making decisions for them, then once they are reliant on her she drops them.  She did this to my nephew and my half sister is very upset because my nephew (who is also an only child and just four months younger than her) really believed she loved him and wanted to be like a sister to him, he has quite college and spent six month in therapy trying to get his life back, he was focused on being a brain surgeon since he was in middle school, but because of my daughter he may never get back in college.  When I think of her I feel so ashamed.  I am a failure as a mother.  So many lives have been ruined because of my daughter.

  11. Worriedand scared Report

    I have a 19 year old daughter who has a learning disability. She never went through that preteen or early teen age stage where she was rude and uncontrollable. She feeds off suggestions and will seek suggestions from others. It use to be me and my family but she met a 21 at the time but was really 23 boy who is the worse possible person any girl should date. His mom is rude and disrespectful. His oldest brother is serving a life long sentence. The boyfriend has been doing drugs since high school and I’m not sure how but this boys younger sister has passed. According to my daughters boyfriend mother I should be happy that my daughter is dating this college drop out drug addict who is 23 and stills live home with mommy and not to mention within the past year he has had 7 jobs. My daughter wanted to be an RN but she first had to finish high school. I had to pull her out and homeschool because she went from straight A’s to straight F’s. She was doing so good until she met this boy. She rather work in a factory. She’s lying and doing drugs. She is now rude and disrespectful. She tells her 13 year old sister things that are not appropriate. This all happened over night. No warning at all. Now everything I saw is wrong but yet she will listen to trashy people. The boy told her that she was to fat. She’s 5’9 and was weighing 165. Curves in places women died for. Now she’s she skinny she flat all over. They are planning her life and she allows it. When do I stop trying to help. They are brainwashing her. When holding conversation with her anyone can tell that she’s not mentally 19 but maybe 15 or 16. I even financially cut her off. It’s painful to watch her hot glue her shoes together or to have to patch up holes in her clothes yet she rather stay with this boy.

  12. dbieganousky Report

    My 35 yr old daughter, met, got married and move to a new state with her husband & my Grandaughter in less than 1 yr. She gave up the stability of family living near by and state assistance. She was a single mom for 9 yrs and doing all the right things to get off state assistance.
    They fought all the time in front of the kids( he has a 9 yr old son). He threatened to leave her every week and finally moved out After 4 months of marriage . My daughter cannot afford the rent and has been trying to find a roommate, I am paying for childcare after school but the summer is coming and I have offered to put her in summer camp and stay with Grandma & Grandpa for the summer. We offered to have my daughter move in with us for 3 months to get her life back in order. My fear is, my daughter is making poor decisions and I want my Granddaughter to have stability and not have to worry about getting a roommate to pay the bills. When do I step in and stop just trying to fix things? We have given her money, cars, picked her up at 2 in the morning when her car broke down. Am I helping or hurting the situation? Any suggestions?

    • rwolfenden Report

      Grandma W 
      Thank you for reaching out.  I hear how concerned you
      are about the decisions your daughter is making, as well as the potential
      impact of those choices on your granddaughter.  Ultimately, there are no
      universal rules about how much assistance you should offer to your daughter, or
      for how long.  In the end, those are choices only you can make.  If
      you are feeling uncomfortable with the amount of help you are giving your
      daughter, or you feel as though it is no longer helpful, you have the ability
      to make a different choice. You mention numerous instances of helping your
      daughter and your granddaughter, and I hope you are taking steps to take care
      of yourself as well.  Self-care is an often overlooked, yet crucial part
      of being an effective parent.  Your self-care plan can be anything you
      wish, from calling a supportive friend or family member, to using more
      structured supports such as counseling or support groups.  You might find
      additional assistance through the 211 Helpline as well.  211 is a service
      which connects people with resources in their community, and you can contact
      them by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting their website at http://www.211.org/.  I recognize how difficult this
      situation must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving
      forward.  Take care.

  13. farasi59 Report

    My son did something stupid and got thrown in jail for 6 months. At first he called often wanting money, which we did not have. We talked about his situation and how to handle it since he could not manage his financial affairs in jail (he is unmarried and lives in another state 1400 miles away). I told him I would do the best I could and he gave me access to his money ( he is a disabled vet on a mention). His girlfriend got hold of his account and spent his money on trips and a new apartment for herself and her special girl friend. My son got mad at me because I cut her off from the account, and paid his bills as we had discussed. Then he accused me of taking his money. I told him I had receipts and notes from every creditor he have covering how his money was spent. He became abusive over the phone so after speaking to an attorney I released his accounts back to him and told his creditors where they could contact him, and that I was no longer going to continue to pay his bills. He was released in March and he got a new phone number and has contacted everyone but me. This is a hurtful situation and I don’t know if I should just chalk it up to a learning how to handle people or if I should try to reach out to him. Because of his crime he can not come home because we have a 7 yr old daughter.

  14. debroh Report

    Well, I was feeling badly that my daughter (18) is sabotaging her last semester of high school and that instead of going a excellent university (in another city) she is choosing a mediocre one because she can stay home. We have saved up enough money for her to any school and stay in res. and get a meal plan. I guess she is not ready to leave the nest. But I feel she is avoiding being an adult. She has never had a boyfriend (or girlfriend which ever I don’t care) she has never had a job (although I have encouraged her to get one) because she has no money she doesn’t go out unless I pay for her evening – which i hesitate to do, so she just sits at home.
    But my daughter seems like a Saint compared to some descriptions below. I feel disappointed that she has no ambition, she will not take risks, she will do the minimum necessary to get by. I tried so hard to provide her with self-esteem,  confidence, opportunity. I feel she is squandering everything. I am letting her make her own choices, she knows I am not happy…still it hurts. The disappointment hurts. My friends accuse me of living vicariously through her, and its true I did not have the chances she does, I did not have the parental support she does and I feel I did not live up to my full potential. But I am still allowed to feel disappointment. I think all of the parents in this comment page are allowed to feel disappointment. You can still love someone and not agree with their choices…but eventually you will stop liking them.

  15. Asadmom Report

    My daughters live a few hours away and want me to move closer to them and my grandchildren. I’ve lived away for several years now and not once have they been to visit me. It is I who always have visited them. I’m saddened by there dismissal of my life choice away from them. I do however miss them terribly and my grandchildren and have planned to relocate to be near them. …leaving my bf of 5 years behind. We will continue to see one another and have a long distance relationship. That has been my plan. Now it is days away and I’m doubting the whole thing. Why can’t I stay where I am and the girls could visit me and I them. This way we would see more of one another. I’m changing my mind at the last minute I know but shouldn’t I do what’s best for me ?? Or should I do what’s best for them?? Oh dear. I don’t know. I do miss them. I simply feel I put the effort in and not them. What does anybody else think????

    • loshla Report

      I know your post was a couple weeks back so I hope you see this post. I think (not saying my opinions are the right thing) that they have shown exactly how things will be if you move there. If they can’t be bothered to visit, they probably will treat you poorly once you are there. I’m not sure what’s happened with today’s youth. My parents always made sure we saw grandparents and other family, as did I. When did all of this change? I feel for you to have to make that choice. But you need to do what’s best for YOU. It may sound selfish but nobody else will look out for you. Don’t give up a happy life for a miserable one. Good luck!

    • dlmctl-labelle Report

      I know your post was a couple weeks back so I hope you see this post. I think (not saying my opinions are the right thing) that they have shown exactly how things will be if you move there. If they can’t be bothered to visit, they probably will treat you poorly once you are there. I’m not sure what’s happened with today’s youth. My parents always made sure we saw grandparents and other family, as did I. When did all of this change? I feel for you to have to make that choice. But you need to do what’s best for YOU. It may sound selfish but nobody else will look out for you. Don’t give up a happy life for a miserable one. Good luck!

  16. JustinFireflyClarke Report

    My elderly parents visited my 48 year old brother’s house recently and he offered them no food or a cup of tea. They were starving after the long drive to visit him and hinted that we would like to eat but in the end they were too proud to ask so we left after just an hour. They left feeling bewildered and not knowing what to say to him. Is there any way they can communicate to him that he needs to up his hospitality game? It seems like a recipe for an argument to bring this up to him?

  17. dlmctl-labelle Report

    I don’t even know where to begin. I have three adult biological children and life is SO not EVER what I thought my family would become. My two sons(same dad who is a loser) in their late 20s. A just 20 year old daughter with my husband who I’ve been with/married to for 23 yrs. my husband accepted my kids as his own, as I did his son-who is a year older than my oldest son. Well his son became the model adult, for which I am proud. My two sons became heroin addicts and are living with my husband and I. The oldest has gotten help and is now on maintenance meds holds a job and pays rent. Yea! That’s a win. But I still want him to move out. We are always butting heads. Most of the time we argue and he is very rude to me. Never my husband. It really seems he has hated me since he was little. No matter how often I tried to get close.
    Well then there is my other son. He has severe depression along with being an addict. He hasn’t worked in almost 9 months and now can’t pay for his dope habit and sits all day in his room.
    He was arrested and spent nine months in jail right after he turned 18. When that happened I did not help him. He was in another state and we let him pay the piper.
    Most of the time he doesn’t even talk. He has a temper and becomes suicidal when we confront him about things. I’ve signed him up for a Medicaid plan. He’s finally gotten an appointment for a psychiatrist after this last blowup. Both sons have contracted hepatitis from their drug use
    Now my daughter. She and her dad haven’t ever gotten along. He spent most of her life away for work. Never did he do anything to warrant her feelings. He always loved her. But as her 18th birthday approached, she insisted she was leaving. Not yet done with school mind you. That’s another thing, she NEVER did poorly in school. Straight A’s and ended up graduating with honors. Accepted to a top ten college with a partial scholarship.
    So the day before her 18th birthday she decided she was leaving. She made arrangements to live with a friend from school and her parents. It absolutely killed me. Well that lasted a couple months and while gone she met a guy and decided to get married after knowing him fo 6 weeks. He was the same age as her. They weren’t going to live together til after graduating. She called us and asked to come home and we let her. She’d be leaving for school shortly anyway.
    So she and her husband moved to the family housing on campus and she went her freshman year hating every minute of it. She decided that she wasn’t going back to “that” school. They moved to a different apt. They had taken on all of the responsibility of living out there to begin with, so we had no say in what they did. Now she works and he’s going to school. She claims that when he’s finished she will go back. I hope so.
    But to make matters worse they are both saying they are transgender. This was a complete shock to all of us. Not that we wouldn’t accept it. She had never shown any signs that she was not comfortable in who she was. I am so confused because she was such a beautiful young woman and was always “boy crazy”. She chopped off her long beautiful hair and dresses like a boy.
    I love all my children and accept them all no matter what. If 15 years ago anyone had told me this would be my life I’d’ve said they were WRONG!!
    I always thought I would never allow a child to steal from me or treat me poorly and stay in my home(the way my sons dad did to his mom). Anyone who says “I would kick them out” or says I should, hasn’t had a child become an addict. Because it’s not that easy. I sure wish it were.
    On top of all of that my husband has two other older kids that have their own baggage and issues. And I have a physical disability as well. Life is a mess!

  18. dikasmk10 Report

    Before I start i just want to say sorry because English is not my native language so pls mind if there mistake,I’m not a parent, and im still 15 years old boy and i keep disappointing my dad. I’m actually a slob and I never do anything except when told to (like cleaning my motorcycle,my bathroom,etc) I even failed to enter good high school because my grade is kind of bad,and my father keep yelling me each time I make small mistake, and the most sad part is when he say that “What have I do to deserve a son like this.” and that broke my feeling the most, that make me afraid talking to my dad. I already know all of that is my fault and i afraid of changing because I afraid of my dad.I know that this blog is for parents,but after I read your blog I believed that you guys can help me solved my problem,so that I can make my dad happy,Im sorry if i write too long.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      I’m sorry to hear you are having a hard time talking to your
      dad. While our site is focused on helping parents, there is a website you may
      not be aware of that is focused on helping adolescents, teens, and young
      adults. http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/Pages/home.aspx
      offers help and support several different ways, through online support, by
      phone at 1-800-448-3000, as well as e-mail, text, and chat.  I encourage
      you to visit their site to see what they have to offer. Good luck to you and
      your family moving forward. Take care.

  19. DoniDarkos Report

    Do you guys have the equivalent of your site but dedicated for the young ones willing to seek improvement? I can find myself in this article and in some situations of others…..

    So it would be great if you have a sister site or just articles aimed at the young adults themselves 🙂

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      You ask a great question. Unfortunately, we don’t currently
      have a site that addresses questions and concerns young adults might have.
      There is a website available for teens and young adults that you might find
      helpful – http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/.
      We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

  20. AniaK Report

    How do you deal with a daughter who seems to lie about everything and you feel you cant believe anything she says.

  21. Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

    What a tough position to be in as a parent and grandparent.
    Sometimes situations such as you describe come down to a judgment call in
    regard to the boundaries you wish to establish. You and your daughter are both
    adults and have the right to make whatever choices you see fit, even if the
    choices she makes may have a negative impact on her children. Unless there is
    abuse or neglect occurring, there may not be much you can do about how she
    chooses to raise her children. If you believe there is neglect, you may want to
    contact https://www.childhelp.org/, an organization
    committed to protecting children from abuse and neglect. They have a 24/7
    helpline that will connect you with a counselor. All you have to do is call
    them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and you can talk with someone about
    your situation and concerns. They may be able to help you identify the next
    step and walk you through it. You may decide you do want to move away and
    separate yourself from your daughter and her choices. Or, you may decide that
    you need to be close to your grandchildren to assure yourself they are being
    cared for properly. Ultimately that is a decision only you can make. Good luck
    to you and your family moving forward. We appreciate you writing in and sharing
    your story. Take care.

    • dbieganousky Report

      I am new to this site, and this is very close to my situation. I am concerned that my daughter is very self centered and her 9 year old daughter, who is not in physical danger, but emotional distress. She is a smart, intuitive little girl and her mom tells her not to tell Grandma (me) certain things so I dont get upset. She has overnight visits her dad who says bad things about her mom and was in Prison for 3 years. She doesnot have a set bedtime schedule and was late for school about 35 times in one year. I am rambling, this has all come to a head, because my daughter took her out of school and moved to a new state with her husband of 4 months and now he left her and she cannot afford the rent. When do I step in? I have been trying to help my daughter out financially and trying to be supportive. But, I don’t think she is capable of doing the same for her daughter.

  22. Lalarod07 Report

    My oldest daughter is 21 years old. For the last 5 years she has been going down the wrong path. She started using drugs heavily, got arrested, did not want to go to college and couldn’t hold a job for too long. She lost her apartment, her car and mov d back in with us. As a mother even though I feel so hurt and disappointed I am always there to support her. Even when she offends me and tells me I’ve never done anything for her ever! I recently found out she has been dancing at a strip club to support her habit. The people she associates with are no good. She regularly heads to social media to post derogatory posts about me. Sometimes I think she does this purposely because friends and family can see it. I honestly believe she truly hates me and even wish I was dead. I’ve already learned to accept that my first and only daughter turned out this way. I did not raise her that way. I don’t drink or smoke and she grew up in a house full of love. I sacrificed so much to provide for all my children and I don’t know how to handle this situation. Another concern I have is that my other 2 children see everything and suffer too. They see her coming home high and not going to school or to work. I know it sounds terrible but I really don’t feel comfortable in my own home when she’s here. She’s a compulsive liar and has been becoming aggressive in the last 2 years. I’ve taken her to a therapist but it has not worked. She’s very manipulative and knows what to tell the therapist and worst of all I think he believes her. This entire situation is making me physically ill. I don’t know what to do anymore!

  23. adellmarie Report

    How can I accept the fact that my 21 yr old son has just been hired as a bouncer in a Nude strip club?  I know he has to make his own choices, but I don’t have to like it.  How do I get over this feeling of anger that he is going to be in an environment I don’t approve of.

    • dbeaulieu Report


      You are absolutely right when
      you say your son is going to make his own choices but you don’t have to like
      it. You certainly don’t have to like it or agree with it, but the unfortunate
      truth is he is an adult and can work where he wants to even if it is against
      your wishes. The best way to work towards accepting his choices is recognizing
      that you don’t have control over them and what he decides to do now at 21 years
      old, is not going to determine what he will do as a career or determine the
      person he will become. Most young adults make poor choices, but that is how
      they learn and grow and decide what they do and don’t want in life. Give him
      the space to do that, while you take some time for yourself to work through and
      accept your current circumstances. Thank you for writing in. Hang in there; you will both get
      through this.

  24. Lisa838 Report

    My daughter has been on a roller coaster of failures and small successes for the last 5 years. We went the route of therapists and medication, college, no college, being arrested, drugs etc. While I did everything I thought I should do as a parent, I have spent the last year or so focusing on what is best to do for me and the family. We now only help when it makes sense, we don’t offer help or guidance unless asked and we have serious boundaries in place, my daughter is still making mistakes and I pray that one day the light bulb will go on, but until that time I am at peace with myself. I was and am a good mother. I do get sad at times but I know I would be sadder if I kept trying to “fix” things, because I would be set up for constant disappointment. I have accepted that she is on her own journey and that journey is up to her.

  25. Willow173 Report

    My almost 22 year old daughter just informed me that 2 of her 4 grades this semester are C’s.  She is going into her senior year in a very competitive field and this is all she can seem to manage–notwithstanding the fact that she only works 14 hours a week with 12 hours of classes.  $27,000 has been spent on her education–no grants, no loans no scholarships–just good old grandma and mom and dad paying for this phone in effort. Over the past 3 years, this beautiful, smart, athletic, musically talented girl has gained 25 lbs, stopped playing her instrument (1st chair all through high school with thousands of dollars in music lessons), phones in her academic effort and is so out of shape she cannot walk or exercise because she says her feet hurt too much.  She lives with her 26 yr old boyfriend in college housing–the place is a mess most of the time.   I paid for a therapist which she stopped going to when it was time to start making some changes. I got her to agree to go back but they refused to see her because she had missed so many session the last time she was there.  The doctor put her on antidepressants which she stopped taking because she said it made her too stupid.  She wants to play on her phone (her 5th in 3 years because she always manages to lose or damage them), watch  videos on the internet, post on social media and watch Netflix.  She was not accepted back at 3 seasonal jobs she has had in the past–one of which she received extensive training at (they would rather train someone else).  She has a job now in food service and was just passed up for a promotion to crew leader–losing out to people who had been there less time than she has.  Of course her solution is to quit.  Its never her fault.  Everyone else is to blame.  I am mean because I tell her that she seems to have stopped caring and trying.  I read some of the other posts.  At least some other parents are together on their approach to their adult children.  My husband says he feels sorry for her.  He tells her everything is okay and not to worry about it.  Instead of encouraging her to make some changes in her life he babies her and makes it seem like her behavior isn’t  in any way responsible for the negative changes which have occurred over the past several years. He says all “kids” are like this.  He says he hears people talking about it all the time. I am angry with both of them most of the time.  I just don’t understand why a girl who had it all just decided to throw it all away.  I worked so hard to prepare and position her to take on the world.  Encouraged, empowered, supported, championed.  It seems it was all for nothing.  She really just doesn’t care and doesn’t get why I am so upset.



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