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Your Adult Children Are All Grown Up. Get Over It!

By Joan Frances Moran June 11, 2023 Family

Having children is overrated. People think that you raise your kids until they’re 18 and then it’s over. No, it isn’t. It’s never over because your kids eventually become your parents.

My children are all grown up, and I’d love to get over them. I can’t. They’re my children, but I don’t understand them any more than I understand the man I married.

I look at my boys and wonder how they actually grew up without me. They claim I didn’t cook or take them to Hawaii at Christmas. They say they were latchkey kids. Most of the time I can’t even talk to my adult children.

I was visiting one of my sons, Jonathan, and his three boys in Las Vegas. The weekend assault was over and he was driving me to the airport. I was exhausted.

“You were really good this weekend, Mom,” he said. I was thinking how often I put tape over my mouth and didn’t say what I was thinking over the last few days. The whining, thumb sucking, coddling, candy and sugar were difficult to ignore.

“Really, I was good?” I asked him, like one of his boys desperately wanting approval. “Did I get an A this visit? Usually, I’m pulling Ds or even Fs.”

Welcome to the World of Adult Children

Adult children get to confront their parents no matter their age. Mine tell me that I overstepped my boundaries if I say what I think. Yet, it’s perfectly okay for them to attack me. Family management is not necessarily a democracy.

I would not have dreamed of talking to my parents the way my boys talk to me. I didn’t respond to my mother, even as an adult, when she criticized me for just about everything I did.

On her deathbed, she still had to comment on what I was wearing. “Why are you wearing a T-shirt in the middle of winter?” she asked. She had no idea that it was 105 degrees in the house. She was bundled up like a snow bunny.

I spent a year in therapy to sort out the complicated nuances of being a parent to adult children. I was curious as to why my adult children – and maybe others in the boomer generation – felt the need to parent or criticize their parents.

My therapist said: “It has nothing to do with you. It’s their adult issues that come out and spill onto you, your behavior, activities and lifestyle, which they may or may not approve of. Your sons have issues. Probably you ex-husband is even complicit and influences your sons in a variety of unconscious ways.”

When we attempt to sort out family issues involving our adult children, we walk a fine line. We certainly have to practice mindfulness in all aspects of the family dynamic. And parents have to practice not speaking the first thought that comes to mind. After all, the first thought comes from judgment, and it usually becomes the subject of confrontation.

It’s approaching summer now and we will all soon be encountering family outings and vacations – hopefully. Let’s see how the parents of adult children can better understand and emotionally cope with the energetic dynamics of family communication.

Here are a few suggestions to think about:

Possess Situational Awareness

Make sure you understand the dynamic of the environment before you speak. Note who is controlling the conversation, who is adversarial and who is amenable or conciliatory.

Steer clear of the angriest person or the person who always must be right and win the argument.

Try Not to Label or Judge

Everyone judges – constantly – as in, all the time. It’s human nature to judge and, when it comes to our families, we judge more than ever.

Step back and try to understand the innuendos and subtleties of the argument. Or, better yet, be aware of the underlying meaning or subtext of what is being said. It’s possible that the object of the attack is not necessarily the one you think it is.

Verbally Engage as Little as Possible

In the years since my adult children got married and had children, I can’t possibly count the number of squirmishes and outright brawls we’ve had. Of course, they pale in significance compared to the joys we have experienced together. When family times are good, they are truly amazing.

I have finally learned to reduce the quick – and sometimes destructive – responses that I have when my emotions flare up. Now, finally, it feels good not to engage in the situation. Of course, one or the other son usually elicits my opinion. That’s when I leave the room.

Working on adult children and parental problems is not easy or simple. It takes a strong dose of mindfulness to create an atmosphere in which everyone feels respected and loved.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you think? What have your experiences been with being a parent to adult children? Please join the conversation.

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if my child said ‘you did really good, Mom’, i’d say ‘thank you, i’m taking away lots of great memories’ — what a snarky response, i thought, re the article. but i don’t have their history.

i do my share of biting my tongue, and it’s hard to keep up on lingo and new fangled stuff; my kids are my link to trends (though i’m not ‘trendy’, i like to throw a new word out there sometimes – keeps me from automatically being dismissed as a ‘Boomer’, which i’m actually kind of proud of, along with being a Basic Person – lol). roles are definitely reversing. but i’m kinda tired of being in charge. i feel lucky to accept this easier than some others in my own phase.

i’ve definitely held back when addressing my Son-in-Law. he’s very knowledgeable and new to me. this will be their 10th year, and i’m FINALLY feeling like i know him. they’re in Florida, so time isn’t a good gauge of our relationship. a couple weeks and back across the country. Mother-in-Laws come with their own rep. i was Uber-Conscientious of my words. that’s served us well.

heck, even when i’m alone sometimes, my first thought at a show or news event isn’t very nice. so i work on me til the next time it’s us and them.

i also read the comments here; this article seems to have touched a Lot of us!
i enjoyed this read, no end.
thank you.

Last edited 10 months ago by Beth
Diane J Elliott

The article on parenting adult children really hit home for me! I am experiencing this now as a parent of children in their 50’s. Sometimes I find it difficult to talk to them since they believe that they know more than me. I constantly have to monitor what I say, and how I say it, to not end up arguing with them. Most of the time they are respectful, but sometimes they push that boundary. For me, communicating with them requires regularly checking myself, listening, and asking more questions to determine what their thoughts are on a particular matter. When I remember to take this approach, my conversations with them are much more enjoyable. I guess I fully have to learn how to treat them like adults, rather than my children.

A Shively

Thanks for a rare, bracing, honest post here, as well as powerful comments. Many articles on Sixty and Me are airbrushed, with good intentions, but this one was funny, angry and authentic. Congrats, hopefully it will help many who feel this way and don’t always feel ‘allowed’ to say so.


I identified with all your saying
I’m just beginning to realise that they are their own people now possibly not the ones I thought they’d be but got own lives families and don’t need anything from me anymore 🫤 I’m trying to get my husband to realise this too but he’s still phoning them trying to run their lives which isn’t appreciate keep telling him it’s time for us to enjoy however long we’ve got left they don’t need/ want us now 🫤

Ima Nonimous

I think that there’s the other aspect of things when one’s children are still acting like children and have the emotionally maturity of a teenager. Family Ties, Hallmark movies, Christmas specials & Who’s The Boss helped shine my faux rose coloured glasses. When I exited the vagina, my father grabbed my rose coloured glasses and broke them just as the doctor decided my gender for me. I shan’t digress. I have; loosely termed, ‘adult’ children, who lived in a poisoned environment. Moreover that included parental alienation that cannot be fixed to this day. I was not a great parent at all, but at least I did not assist to poison their minds like my ex, exes parents, my former friend of 15+ years and others.

If I could have gone back in time and avoided meeting my ex; letalone had children, then no innocent human beings would have been harmed by an emotionally immature & psychologically f#$ed up self. Summarising, if I knew what was going to happen, I would have evaded meeting my ex, not had children and innocent human beings would not have suffered. I have never uttered a negative word to my children about my ex, but my ex sure as heck ensured ‘parental alientation‘ happened.

They really need counselling and to grow up. Failing that, they need to get a punching bag, take their frustration out on it and grow forward. For all of you who actually have a relationship with their children, be greatful you have one. For all of you who believe the aforementioned eighties shows, then you need a reality check. Moreover for all those who have no relationship with their children and are estranged by their choice; with help from others, there is definitely one human being who is in the same boat as you.

Just try to keep in mind, that if your children have moved on and in the eyes of the law that they are adults and claim they don’t need you, then to try and break the pain they cause, try to put the shoe on the other foot and wonder if you really need your children ? !

Am I a bitter person ?


Am I a realist with a battered heart who is fallible and just needs a vent ?

Either way, I do not care what the readers perception is, because the reader will have their own facts. The irony being, that I have more stories unexpressed and only I know the right aforementioned question to be answered. Summarising, my unpublished stories come with much pain and I would not wish them upon anyone.

The harsh reality is, no you don’t need your children. Indeed, you will feel a certain attachment and yearning at times and that is understandable, but at the core of it, a parent does not need their adult children. Furthermore if you cannot fix things, then try to fix your own internal self…at least with you tried your best and know that be true at the core of your human self.

Take care out there all who can relate to my story

Maria Banholzer

Thank you so much for your sincere comment! Yes, it is and can be very painful with adult children. The partners are a real challenge…. especially woman partners from sons….
I am glad to have read this article today! I am not alone! Much love from South of France to you and the community.


good luck with your situation; i hope you find the comfort and ease you deserve.

Joan JHS

Thank you for sharing Ima. I reflect often about my 45y/o son, who is not always truthful to me. He has 3 girls, paying support,having to withdraw $$ just to make ends meet! Oh and he wants to marry a nurse he met and loves.
I am 74 and moved back home to Chicago from AZ where I lived for 22 years with the love of my life. He passed away 2 years ago and I sold the house, sold everything and found an apartment home in a Chicago suburb near my son so I can take his daughter to school and be grandma! I am not yet fully recovered physically and emotionally, but I am positive. Marc wants me to put $$ down on a home for him and his daughter, myself, and eventually his significant other and daughter! He says his credit is bad and it will only be my $$! He mentioned I would be better living with them as opposed to a senior living setting!

Long story, that needed to be said! Now I am stressing, thinking about my future. Fortunately I trust my brother who has arranged my finances to cover a senior living setting. I don’t want to upset my son who has anger issues, but I realize after years of therapy (hx of alcoholic parents and 1st husband)
I must make the decision Jim and I talked about prior to his death in AZ.

We all have our stories and I came back to ILL to be with family and I feel this is where I need to be.


The Author

Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Joan is the author of her wise and funny memoir, "60, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer" and "I'm the Boss of Me! Stay Sexy, Smart & Strong At Any Age". Her latest book, a thriller titled “An Accidental Cuban” is now available on Amazon. Check out Joan's website and follow on Twitter @joanfmoran.

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