As a psychologist working with children and teens for over 30 years, I have counseled many troubled, overly dependent adult children. It is heart-wrenching to see these young adults in a self-defeating holding pattern with little motivation. Further unfortunate, as I have seen as a coach for parents of struggling adult children, is how emotionally and financially draining this can become for their parents. Common among this adult child population, the parents, and consistent with the myriad of comments from my readers on this topic, are stories of substance misuse, depression, anxiety, and very low self-esteem.
Troubled adult children often are master manipulators of their frustrated, desperate feeling parents. They know the guilt-triggering painful comments to say to their emotionally exhausted, vulnerable parents such as, “Okay, great if you are not going to help me then I will just end up on the street and die!” Or, “All you do is tell me to get a job, stop pressuring me or I will kill myself.” Sadly, your guilt, which in most cases is not justified, makes you vulnerable to the manipulations of your troubled adult child.