Rebellious Adult Children

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

When I got divorced, I did all the parenting.

I thought I was a warm, loving and caring parent. We went to church and my son was involved in lots of activities.

Now he says I “forced” him to do too much. He said I’m a “helicopter parent.” However, he lives at home, he’s 26, and doesn’t work (mostly) and quit college. I pay for everything.

I thought we communicated well and had a happy, secure, and close emotional bond.

I’ve failed him, but I’m hurt that he doesn’t see how hard I try.

Maybe he should live with his father, Mr. Disneyland Dad.


Still trying

Dear Mom,

We have no doubt that you are a “warm, loving, and caring” parent. No one’s a perfect parent but you are trying perfectly.

Research shows that parents who are caring, warm, and responsive to their child’s needs, will produce adults who are more content, secure, happy, and emotionally stable. Dr. Mai Stafford, of the Medical Research Council’s Lifelong Health and Aging unit at UCLA says parents who provide stability cause children to learn to explore things. And responsive parents help their children develop social, emotional, and attentive skills.  

A lot of talk in today’s culture has been based around parenting styles like:

1. Slow parenting – Children grow at their own pace, with few boundaries. This creates confident, but sometimes entitled children.

2. Helicopter parenting – Parents are closely involved in their children’s activities and directing their lives. The parent is caring, loving, and giving – but the hovering sometimes causes kids to lack confidence.

3. Tiger parenting – Parents are traditional, strict, and have high expectations. This child excels but is usually unhappy and rebellious.

This is a partial list, and not as key as the one thing that matters the most (besides love) – helping your adult children identify problems and solutions, especially in relationships.

Hold “Critical Growth” monthly meetings: Come up with concrete lists of promises: Your son will work full-time, or go to school full-time, or do both part-time. Time your agreement (3 to 6 months). Either he complies, or you help him move out (and not to another dependent situation like Disneyland Dad). 

Yes, we acknowledge that, unfortunately, many young millennials have master’s degrees and work at fast food restaurants. We still recommend this same solution.

Data shows one in four adult children, mostly men, ages 20-34, are still living at home.

No amount of love or any particular parenting style will provide what your adult child needs now. He needs to mature and provide for himself without blaming anyone for his life.


Rhonda and Dr. Cheri