Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What to Do When an Adult Child Calls From Jail

You get a call at 1 a.m. that your adult child is in jail. After hearing the sob story about drunken driving, drug possession, or some other involvement in illegal activity, many parents will rush to bail their child out of jail. Many parents go as far as taking out loans to get adult children out of jail. Why? A friend of mine repeatedly hocked his vehicles to keep his son out of jail for possession of an illegal substance. Even though he knows he is enabling this child, he refuses to stop and let his son feel the consequences of his actions.

In our family, I have made it clear that if one of my children does something illegal, they better not call me. They know I will not bail them out.

Your child is an adult. They should be responsible for their actions. If you bail them out of jail and put yourself in financial dire straits, you are teaching them that you will always be there to fix their problems and willingly suffer for their mistakes.

There is another very good reason to NOT hock the farm for bail: Chances are that adult child is going to continue the behavior that put them in jail. They swear it will never happen again, and you want to believe. Every parent wants to believe the best about their child, but it’s your job to know the difference between fantasy and reality.

If your child is headed down a dark path, you can be a light and an example, but do not save them from their consequences. Protecting a child from their own mistakes means that you do not think they can handle the situation on their own. If that is what you believe, then you need to admit how you participated in creating the problem.

Continue reading “What to Do When an Adult Child Calls From Jail”

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

When Your Adult Child Does Not Listen to Your Good Advice

The first thing to do is figure out the difference between help that will actually help and help that will only hurt your kids. Below, you’ll find sections that answer these main questions:

  1. What can you do when your grown kids are making bad decisions and end up in trouble—romantically, financially, emotionally, or with the law?
  2. How can you help your adult child become financially independent?
  3. When is it time to cut the apron strings and close your checkbook?
  4. When is it okay to step in and help?
  5. When Your Adult Child Does Not Listen to Your Good Advice

    You’re saying all the right things to your adult child, but for some reason, they just don’t listen. What can you do? Well, the answer depends on whether or not you are supporting your child financially.

    • If you’re not giving them money, then you’re not entitled to them advice unless they ask for it or to try to prevent a serious mistake. This will allow you to save your breath for when the advice might be heard and make a difference.
    • If you are financially supporting your adult child, then you still have a say in how their time and money is spent. Spend that money and advice wisely. For example, if you want your child to go to college, then offer to continue funding them while they do so (and if you don’t want them to drop out of college, then make it clear that your financial support will end if they don’t attend).

    So unless you’re paying the bills, you don’t get any say in how your adult child conducts their life.

Continue reading “When Your Adult Child Does Not Listen to Your Good Advice”

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Watching Adult Children Stumble & Fall

A HuffPost article, “The 6 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Adult Child” highlighted that “Any tension between parents and adult children can often be felt more strongly by a parent, as parents are often more emotionally invested.”

How often do you hear a parent say, “You won’t understand until you have children of your own.”

Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships With Your Adult Children,” makes the point that:

“We fantasize that we can say anything we want to our kids, but the truth is, we never could.”

A good rule of thumb is: If you would not say the comment to the person you admire the most in the world, as you would not wish to offend or upset them, then DO NOT make this comment to your adult child. Continue reading “Watching Adult Children Stumble & Fall”

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What to Do When Your Adult Child Is Messing Up

The what-ifs can paralyze our souls and wreak havoc on our confidence as parents. One of the greatest heartbreaks for a parent is watching a child waste his or her life, potential, or opportunities with poor choices.

One woman said to me, “I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life, but I’ve never felt heartbreak like I have through the poor choices of my kids.” A friend of mine whose son struggled with drug and sex addictions put it this way: “It feels like a death. Or at least the death of a dream. No doubt about it, ‘big children bring on bigger problems.’”

When your young-adult kids have serious adult-sized problems, the kind that can derail a healthy and productive life, your heart may break, but your child’s choices don’t have to break you. Your child’s regrettable decisions do not make you a bad parent. Even good parents have children who make poor choices. It may be too late for prevention, but it’s never too late for redemption. 

Miracles do happen. Sometimes they take the form of a rapid change, but most times they are a slow climb toward a better life.

Author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” Your child’s failures may well become the foundation for a whole new life. This is the power of redemption.


No one said parenting a child who violates your values would be easy, but the best chance for success is when there is good communication and understanding between you. Here are some strategies that work.

Offer your adult child tough love.

Continue reading “What to Do When Your Adult Child Is Messing Up”

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder


As children grow into adulthood, the role of a parent changes. This leads to one of the great joys of parenting—being the friend of an adult child.

Yet it leads to one of the great frustrations of parenting—having to mind your own business.

When it comes to parenting an adult child, a parent no longer has the authority or responsibility to make decisions for a child, ensure they experience the negative consequences of their bad choices, or to prevent them from making bad choices.

A parent of an adult child does not even have the guaranteed right of giving their opinion without being asked.

As children grow, responsibilities change. Embracing the new responsibilities as a parent of an adult child is vital for the child’s development, the well-being of the parent/child relationship, and the mental health and satisfaction of the parent. (See: What Every Mother-in-Law Should Know)

When a parent fails to understand their new role and continues to parent as they always have:

  • the child may fail to mature
  • the child can be enabled to continue bad behavior
  • the child will often grow resentful of their parent
  • the child’s marriage/relationships will suffer
  • the parent/child relationship will fail to grow as it is should
  • the parent can become too enmeshed with the child
  • the parent can lose their own identity
  • the parent can miss a fulfilling season of life

So what can a parent of an adult child do? Continue reading “PARENTING ADULT CHILDREN WHO MAKE BAD CHOICES”