How do you cope with adult kids?


13 Years
Jun 7, 2010
Recently a friend of mine told me about her son.
She is a religious woman brought up in the church and has brought her kids up best she could in her faith too.
However the messages she get from her son recently were anything but.

He accused her of being Smothering - but she has not seen him more than twice in the whole of the last year and has rarely spoken to him.
When she gets him things he does not want them as he says he is "feircly independent" - but then accuses her of favouring and spoiling other siblings?
He accuses her of embarassing him - but she has not been out with him in public more than once in the last year.
He accuses her of "treating him like a child", - to which she answered that he would always be "her child!"
He accuses her of making herself out to be better than him because she is a Christian woman and he hates her God and the Church! He says that there was NO difference between them as they are "both adults!" Which I guess is his way to justify his treatment of her as he does not recognise the family hierarchey of parenthood.
He has rejected all things Christian and the moral values that she had tried to instill into him. Instead he has no respect for his "relationships" either with a partner or towards his parents. He has not cellibrated either Christmas or Easter or Birthdays for at least two/three years. Which of course means he doesn;t have to get anyone anything!
He told her to go (pro-create) with herself? When she challeneged him over imoral life choices. And told his father he wished his father was dead. He told them both that he would never want them in his life. That they would never see the children that he may have in the future or a partner he may have.
He is her eldest son and she deeply loves him and is left heartbroken. This is not a teenager having a blip - this comes from a Mature fellow in his thrties!

She sent him back the first and only bible verse she has ever quoted to him.
Prov 25 v17
A foolish son is a grief to his father,.... Because of his folly and wickedness, and the ruin he is bringing himself to;
and bitterness to her that bare him; a cause of bitterness of soul to his mother, more distressing than the bitter pains with which she brought him forth into the world.
I would just leave him alone, don't call him or anything, ever. Something has happened to make him act his way, behavior like hat doesn't come from no where. It seems like she almost never speaks to him or sees him, but the few times she does, this is all he has to say. He must think she should know what the problem is without him having to tell her,. Something happened to cause all of this and it must have been from the parents as that's where the anger is directed at. I don't think she is telling you the whole story. Maybe she has forgotten something that seems of little importance to her, but means a lot to him. Anyways some event or events somewhere along the line had caused him all this anger. If she isn't ready to just never speak to him again, then she could try figuring out what has happened to cause all of this.
There is no telling what has happened. It may or may not be something she did. He may be suffering with some sort of mental illness. Whatever it is, she can't fix it and chances are she will only make things worse if she tries. She should not respond to him nor engage him in any way.Her best course of action is distance. Lots of distance.
Agreed. Give him lots of distance, and lots of prayer. At this point, her best course of action would be to not engage him in controversial conversation. Tell her to let him see Christ through her actions. Quoting scripture to him at this point, may just inflame him more. We know that God's word will not return void. She has raised him in a Christian home, he has heard the gospel, and at this point in his life chooses to reject it, reject God, and reject all things associated with God, which includes his parents. Fine... he's no longer living under her roof (I assume). Time for her to let go, continue to keep her heart open to him, which is a hard thing to do when receiving such hate. She needs to turn him over to God.
At the risk of maybe not being received well, I would like to approach this from the son’s point of view, an area in which I have some experience.

While the situations are different, in that I was not raised in a religious family, my family were dysfunctional to say the least and I do not want to go into details but my father was at fault.

My mother went into denial and recently became a Christian. While our relationship has always been a little rocky, it has got to the point that we do not speak. I am fine with that, but she is not and continues to try and ‘play’ happy families. We have tried many times to ‘repair’ the relationship but she has a tendency to lash out and any progress gets washed away.

As I said, different to your friend but sometimes, as much as it hurts, for whatever reason, it is best to accept that a relationship requires two willing participants and if one person is not willing, trying to force the issue can drive them further away.

As sad as it is .. I agree that the best she can do is leave him be and if/when he is ready, be there for him.
For an alternative viewpoint, consider:

Smothering is the way one acts, not the frequency.
It may be WHAT she gets for him that is the problem, and he may see his siblings as being treated more fairly.
Comments on her embarassing him may be an echo of the past.
My children will always be my babies, but that doesn't mean that I don't treat them as adults, not as children.
Perhaps he sees her as being hypocritical? and/or judgmental?
Parents cannot (and should not) try to enforce behavior in their adult children; you raise the child and hope that he/she learns the values you have taught them. Respect at this point is something that should have been earned over the years--in both directions.
Challenging him (an adult) over his life choices was not a loving act, and neither was sending that particular Bible verse.

Perhaps she needs to re-read I Corinthians 13.
I thinks it's really hard to evaluate this situation at all. I feel for her, but I feel for him too. Clearly they are both going through hurtful times, no matter the cause.

I will say that I was raised by Cathokic parents, but I am not religious at all. I consider myself athiest and I truly resent it when people seem to think my parents failed in that respect because I don't identify as Catholic like them. Luckily my parents respect my beliefs and they don't push theirs, but me being an atheist is not a reflection of failure, but of success. They raised their children to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions!

It would certainly annoy me if my parents constantly judged my activities or faith every time I saw them, even if I only saw them a few times a year. Another example was my grandfather who constantly made my cousins feel bad about not visiting him. When they did visit him, he would just make them feel bad that they haven't visited more. So what happened? They never visited him. His didn't make them bad people, and I could understand how they felt and why they didn't want to visit.

I agree with the others that perhaps some time away from him would be the best thing, and your friend should try to open her mind and think about how her actions may be influencing his behavior (not saying she IS the cause, but introspection never hurts). He could also be dealing with a myriad of issues, or he could just be a rogue child. It happens sometimes despite how good of parents people were!
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I agree that there must be a GREAT deal more history to this situation. While I rely upon scripture for guidance, hope, understanding and support, myself, I have not heard that using scripture to elicit a desired emotional or behavioral response in another is effective.

If God's word is used as leverage, to effectively extort the behavior your friend wants from her son, it seems understandable that the response would be a (perhaps largely feigned) rejection of God and His instruction. I think that the young man's refusal to observe celebrated holidays suggests that these, too, may have been used to manipulate his conduct in the past. Something of the "I don't know how you expect to have a party with your friends, when you haven't done x, y, z."

Be that as it may, the current situation is heartbreaking. That child is in pain, and is pleading for a parental response of some particular sort. His parents, wanting the best for him, do not know what it is he is crying out for.

Here, I suggest, is where these folks need to shut the Bible, drop to their knees, privately and when they can be alone (not as a family) and ask for God's guidance and discernment. Mom, having asked for clear, easy to recognize, guidance, would then listen. And keep on listening. Listen, with God's support, as though she were not a party to what is discussed. When her son speaks, she will try very hard to HEAR him. Whether she agrees that he OUGHT to feel the way he does or not, it is, factually, what he DOES feel. His feelings define his reality, not the other way around. He likely has no experience in examining his own motives, perceptions and needs, in order to effectively communicate them.

She will want to attempt to sift and translate the hurtful words he says, and gleen from them the truth of what he needs from her. Certainly, he needs HER feelings, not the advice given by a potentate, (whose own morality left a bit to be desired) to people long gone. Mom can do better than that. Scripture seems a bit like a cop-out, to dodge having to express HERself, in this instance.

I don't know much, but I do know that asking, constantly, for God's protection, guidance and forgiveness cannot be a mistake. I also always ask that, when I am going wrong, that He please make me aware (gently, lol) of that fact. I won't correct mistakes that I do not realize I am making.

Hope some of this is useful, if only to provoke thought. God bless you, your friend, and those you each love. Thanks for posting this. It helps me to be reminded.

This is what happens when you ask a kid if he'd like to play an instrument in the school band, and he says yes, and wants drums, and you buy him a trumpet.
You can ask me how I know this, but I don't want to talk about it.
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