When Your Grown Child Makes Bad Decisions – 5 Essential Steps

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Grown children shape their own perspectives and decide for themselves. Sometimes, they are unwise and reckless in terms of decision-making. When that happens, your patience and endurance as parents are tested. But worry not. You can still set things straight and do these steps below when your grown child makes bad decisions.

When Your Grown Child Makes Bad Decicions - Parenting Hub
Bad decisions can wreck havoc your children’s life and indirectly affect yours as parents

Parenting is not an easy task. All parents across the country unanimously agree on that.

Every parent finds it difficult, especially when you think it can’t get worse than it already is, the universe proves you wrong.

There are times when you have to struggle badly. On such days, you need to be strong, determined, and resolute to work hard for your child’s future.

Most people think that parenting is the hardest when your children are little. Unfortunately, this is probably not the case.

Parenting a grown child can be even more difficult. You have to adapt yourself as your child grows. The age of 18 is arbitrary. Children may legally be considered adults at this age, but that doesn’t mean they are mature and developed.

When it comes to this, you no longer have the authority or responsibility to make decisions on their behalf. Once your children reach adulthood, you cannot stop them from doing what they like.

As a parent of an adult child, you do not even have the guaranteed right of giving your opinion without being asked. 

As children grow, responsibilities change. Embracing the new responsibilities as a parent of a grown child is vital for your child’s development, the well-being of the parent-child relationship, and your mental health and satisfaction.

When a parent fails to comprehend their adapting role and continues to behave similarly, the child may fail to mature. This can lead your child into making bad decisions.

Parenting A Grown Child

Parenting grown children is one of the most difficult and yet least discussed topics of modern society.

There is enough material available on how to parent a toddler, but once your child grows out of this stage, it can become matters that are increasingly difficult to handle.

No one really teaches you on what to do when your grown child makes bad decisions. However, data shows that an increasing number of children are getting exposed to violence because of bad decision-making.

Exposure to violence charts figure
This data chart (Source: Finkelhor D., Turner H. A., Shattuck A., Hamby S. L. 2015 Results from the national survey of children’s exposure to violence) goes on to show that how important it can be to adequately parent a grown child to prevent themselves from driving their lives to a stage that makes them prone to these increasing incidents of violence.

Now, what are the most essential steps for parents to parent their grown children in terms of decision-making?

You can start with respecting differences that arise in almost every healthy family relationship. After that, I recommend that you become the role model your child can look up to. This can tremendously help you shape the relationship for the better. In the end, setting boundaries is a must-go for every parent with adult children.

Read the details below.

#1 Respecting Differences

It is extremely important to respect differences in opinion. 

When your child grows, it becomes your duty to embrace your child’s independence. Any conflict can simply be the result of a personality clash.

Being your child does not mean that they have to follow your footsteps religiously. Give them enough space to shape their own views. 

Every person is unique. You may not always agree with your child, but as they grow, you will have to find a way to accept this harsh reality.

#2 Being A Role Model

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This is generally good advice for all parents but is particularly useful for anyone who is a parent to a grown child. Nothing can be more influential than a respectable example. Strive to present yourself as a person modeling ideal behavior.

As your child grows, he or she will not want you to continuously scold them. 

Instead of nagging them, try to teach them with examples. Turn yourself into a person you want your child to be. Regardless of the age of your children, you still have a tremendous influence over them.

#3 Setting Boundaries

I’ve been saying this to parents out there that boundaries are fundamental to create a long-lasting and healthy relationship. It is what it takes to ground your children that you, as parents, respect them as individuals with their own minds and decisions.

When your child was little, you make every little decision about them. What to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do, and so on.

As they grow older, you get to be less and less decisive about what your kids can or cannot do.

Now, especially when your child is an adult, you are not a part of their decision-making process anymore. They are now in charge of all the important decisions in their lives and drawing a line can prevent you from getting involved too far.

Yes, setting boundaries can feel uncomfortable and even awkward at first. But do keep in mind that it will work out just fine.

If you have established a healthy relationship with your kids since the early on, they will often ask you for advice themselves. 

Never try to intervene more than you are supposed to. Wait until they ask for advice themselves and then gently share what you think.

Often, children do not want advice. They just need a listening ear and to be validated that their problems are real.

When Your Child Makes Bad Decisions

When a grown child violates family values, makes poor life choices, or gets into big trouble, you are forced to step in. In such situations, do not question your parenting abilities.

In these times, your child needs you the most. Do not doubt yourself. The what-ifs can paralyze your abilities and wreak havoc on your confidence as a parent.

The best way is to trust the relationship you’ve built with your child over the years.

I understand that one of the most difficult times for parents is watching their kids wasting their lives, their outstanding potential, or the opportunities that come before them due to bad decisions and poor choices.

In such situations, it’s no time to just sit and watch them ruin their life. But it doesn’t mean you have to step up and be authoritative. 

Instead, let them take full responsibility while you are there for them and being a supportive parent. Ask your child what you can do to help them improve their situation.

Yes, when your grown child faces serious problems that can derail his productive life, your heart may break. But, your child’s decisions do not have to break you as a parent.

It’s known that sometimes, the problems your child is facing hurt you more than they do to your child. That’s why you also need a support system for yourself.

However, working together to find a solution can improve the relationship and strengthen the connection between parents and children.

Never Give Up

It may be too late for any preventive measure. But always keep in mind that perhaps, there is still something you can do to rescue your child.

When his life takes a wrong turn, you are the most important person in their life that can be of any impactful help.

Do not underestimate yourself. Sometimes, your help takes the form of a rapid change. You never know what could end up saving your child from corrupting their life forever. 

However, it needs steadfastness from your side. Because mostly, it takes the form of a slow climb towards a better stage before you see any changes in the situation.

If your grown child starts making bad decisions and their life starts deteriorating, you should be the last person in the world to give up on them.

Your child’s failure may well become the foundation for a whole new life.

What To Do?

Things are already happening and your grown child’s bad decision starts directly affecting his life. In such a situation where everybody is overwhelmed by the problems, you can try to do these 5 steps to lessen the burden.

#1 Offer Tough Love

The moment your children start school, you begin the process of letting them go as they become more susceptible to outer influence. Letting your child enter the cruel practicalities of this world for the first time can be extremely difficult.

Every year they get more mature and start choosing what they will or will not do. They even dare to say no to you, your ideas, your opinion, and your suggestions!

Then finally, comes the day when you have to leave them on their own, facing everything by themselves. 

When your child reaches this stage, it takes both of you and your children to adjust and work out new ways. 

Tough love is a parenting approach that can help children see that although their parents love them, they are not going to enable them. 

This gives your children new opportunities to gain experience and skills they had not acquired before that.

Unless you offer the gift of independence, your child will always rely on you and will keep on making bad decision one after another. 

As parents, you may use tough love to help your child become more responsible for his behavior.

Once he realizes that he has to bear the consequences of his actions, he becomes more responsible and starts making better decisions.

#2 Spend Time Together

Whenever you think that your child’s life is falling apart because of the decisions he made, it is always a good choice to spend more time with them. 

To get started, organize a schedule that allows you to spend more time with your child.

You might want to put things off and do them some other day. Identify activities that you and your grown child can do together. 

Spending enough time with him can give you more opportunities to influence their future decisions more subtly.

Be flexible in your time and try to readjust between your daily routines and quality time with your child. Only then you can help him effectively. 

According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Arizona State University, “grown children who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana”.

This shows how spending enough time with your children can have substantial impacts on their life decisions. 

Your child learns by example. If you are setting a good example for them, they are more likely to adopt those behaviors.

Investing in spending quality time can result in your child feeling so much more settled, secure, confident, and cooperative. 

This can even help in alleviating stress in their lives. 

It can also assist you in transforming the relationship with your child to a tight one. This will ultimately enable you to effortlessly influence their lives.

#3 Give Enough Space

Relinquishing some control over your grown child’s life can benefit him greatly in the long run. To do this, allow your child to deal with his own emotions before asking him for discussion.

It’s understandable that whenever you sense something is wrong with your child’s decision-making process, your first instinct would tell him to talk to you about it. 

However, just because you are ready for this conversation, does not mean your child is. He may often need to work things out in their own minds before discussing it with other family members. It is also possible that he will distance himself from you during this process to have clearer minds.

And when it happens, it is fine. Just check up on him once in a while and he will come out of his shell when he is ready to talk about it. As I mentioned earlier, this will also empower them to have better decisions in the future. 

Decision-making is a skill. And just like every other skill, it can only improve when it’s put to practice. If you don’t allow your children to make any decisions on their own, they will not be able to progress in this area.

Let your children know that you respect their choices by providing them enough autonomy for making smaller, less consequential decisions. Even better if you apply this method from the get-go. 

This will help them build confidence in their own personality over time.

Instead of making decisions on your grown child’s behalf, guide him to smart choices. This can give your child a sense of free choices and independence that will boost his confidence. 

And the sweet bonus? It increases his tenacity on how he deals with problem-inflicted stress.

To pass this valuable skill of stress management on to your children, focus on showing them how to remain calm during a stressful situation. This will permit your child to make the best out of every situation.

#4 Find Perfect Moments

When you choose to speak up, pay attention to what you say as much as how your grown child responds. He is not always in a constant mood. 

His reaction and behavior may vary depending upon how he is feeling that day.

Unfortunately, it’s never the best time for having a conversation that involves the topic of bad choices he’s made.

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But, whenever your child tends to be most relaxed, in those moments, he or she is more likely to hear you out and understand your concerns.

The second best time is when your child is not busy and is just chilling out. 

If you are not sure about the timing, you can even let them know that you want to have a conversation. This will give you an idea regarding when they will be free for this.

Do not voice your concerns in front of other people, especially strangers. It can be embarrassing for your child which will make it even difficult for you to make your point. 

No one likes to be reprimanded in front of others.

This is why it is required for you to take this on with a composed mindset and approach your children at the right time. This will give you the best shot even if your child disagrees with what you say.

#5 Support Yourself

You should immediately get rid of any feelings of guilt or remorse when your grown child makes bad decisions. Those are not your burden and they don’t make you a bad parent. 

But parents across the countries will mostly agree that the most difficult grief to bear is to watch your children live with self-destructive decisions.

You cannot possibly help your child if you yourself don’t have enough courage or potential to set things straight. In such demanding times, just like your child, you need support and encouragement as well.

Do not feel shy to discuss your issues with your close circle that might be able to take you and your child out of this. Your willingness to seek help and support can act as a turning point in your child’s life.

Never blame yourself and do not assume responsibility for your children’s decisions. You will only be able to help them if you use the best of your abilities. 

Assuming that the impending failure in your child’s life is somehow your fault will never be a good approach to solve the problem.

Having such a mindset will only encourage the situation to get even worse. 

Do not blame yourself and use all the resources at your disposal to get things back on track.

Summary

Parents often think that parenting gets easier with time. However, this is rarely the case. 

As your child grows, you are faced with a new set of problems, especially when your grown child makes bad decisions.

The answers to all questions while dealing with a child who has a history of poor decision-making lie between realism and high ideals.

Whenever you find yourself in such circumstances, establish a new set of rules, use discretion, and stick to your core values to achieve the best possible results.

Use this simplified guide to help you get through it.

  • Respect the differences as your child grows. He or she will come with plenty of opinions and decisions that you will appear bad to your eyes. Remember that this is not always the case. Your grown child doesn’t have to always follow your footsteps.
  • Set an example by being a role model. This will make things easier for you when you need to influence your grown child in the decision-making process.
  • Setting boundaries work like charms. It helps you to respect your grown child’s personal circle and establish a strong family relationship.
  • When your grown child makes bad decisions, get rid of all the what-ifs. This can paralyze you as a parent and create self-doubt.
  • Never give up when the situation goes south. When you’re already in the worst situation, things can only get better.
  • Offer tough love to your grown child as a gesture of support. Let him slowly making decisions and take full responsibility for his actions. This will give him sense of independence and allows him to make better decisions over time.
  • Spend time together to understand what’s your grown child’s currently facing. This can have substantial impacts on their life decisions, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Arizona State University.
  • Give enough space for your grown child to sort things out and take care of his emotion. You can instead lead by example by staying calm in such a situation.
  • It’s natural for parents to want to talk things out when the grown child’s bad decision starts inflicting their life. But, find the best moments when your kid is chilling out and relaxed. You can ask him if he wants to talk about it.
  • Dealing with bad decisions that afflict your children can be exhausting both mentally and physically. Seek support from your inner circle and talk to them. Other people’s perspectives can tremendously help you shape your view and find a way out that you’ve never thought before.

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Elise Schiller
Elise Schillerhttps://www.parenting-hub.com
Elise is the head writer in Parenting Hub. She focuses on early childhood parenting and teenage years. Currently, she also learns about parenting adult children. She enjoys writing and sharing insights regarding child development and mental health.

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