When Your Grown Child Makes Bad Decisions | Guide for Parents


Having a grown-up child doesn’t only mean that they move out of their house, or get a job. It also means that they make their own decisions and ideally live as a fully independent adult in society.

These decisions, just like any other decisions, would either be good or bad.

Since your children are growing you as parents expect them to be confident, certain, and most importantly wise. However, that’s not usually the case.

As your kids turn into grown adults they make tons of mistakes and learn many lessons along the way.

However, the frustration and stress your grown child experiences and the anxiety you have for them is what makes the situation worse. That’s why it’s important to not only know Parenting in general but to know how to parent grown children specifically.

So, what exactly you as a Parent do when your grown child makes bad decisions? The answer is to stand by them emotionally and help them learn to be the best they could possibly be at decision making.

How to React When Your Grown Child Makes Bad Decisions

Here’s more detail on dealing with grown children who make bad choices.

1. Realize it’s normal & relax

First things first, know that humans make mistakes and your grown child is no more different than you or any other human being.

Let it be finance, relationships, or any other aspect of life, your child would always have room for making bad decisions. Thus you as a parent need to relax and think critically irrespective of the degree to which the decisions are bad.

Other than that, you need to make sure you take no guilt for the wrong decisions made by your child. Oftentimes Parents when trying to figure out the reason for their kids’ wrongdoings, blame themselves for the upbringing.

As children grow up, they might not sustain all the character traits you instilled in them in childhood. As your adult kids go out in society their concepts, thinking, and ideas are influenced by people around them. And any of their decision onwards cannot be your personal fault.

As soon as you take the guilt, anxiety, and stress off of your shoulders, you can think with a clear head, give the best advice you possibly can and thus handle the situation the best you can.

2. Initiate a conversation with them

If you’ve come to realize that your grown child is making bad decisions and you’ve evaluated their decisions well already, it’s time to have a conversation with them.

Communication can be an effective key to getting in touch with your grown child and letting them know what you think about the decisions they’ve been making.

Father having conversation with grown child who makes bad decisions

This conversation can be carried out within the usual dinner table talk or as an entirely separate topic depending on the severity of their decisions.

Either way, it’d be easy to pull off this conversation as long as you talk gently. Instead of being completely blunt, you can go something like this; “I am not necessarily saying that your choice was bad, what I mean is that perhaps there must have been a better approach”.

Simply let your child know that you’re not insulting them. It’s just that you think their decisions weren’t so wise and share alternative solutions.

3. Stop Enabling Your Grown Child

Practically speaking, your first action should be to evaluate if you’re somehow enabling your grown child to make bad decisions. This could come in any form and in most cases, without you realizing it.

For example, it can be the case that you never held your child accountable for their actions from an early age. The solution to this is to stop enabling your grown child from right this moment.

Assess if your child is taking advantage of your unconditional support, let it be financial or emotional, and confront them by saying; “No more”.

  • Stop bearing for their expenses if they’re bad with money
  • Stop bearing their irresponsible acts with your resources
  • Ask them to get a job if they’re lazy and does nothing
  • Ask them to move out if they’re living with you as an excuse not to work

Again, effective conflict handling and communication can make this process smooth and help you avoid any friction.

4. Set Clear & Strong Boundaries

No matter what age your children are, you’re role as a Parent will always be vital in their lives.

From good advice to standing by them in difficult times, you have to play your part. However, your role changes as your children grow up.

Especially when your grown child makes bad decisions, it’s time for you to set some boundaries of your role in their lives.

Parents having setting boundaries for grown child who makes bad decisions

Here are a few areas you would need to set some boundaries on for your grown child;

  • When your grown child is spending your money
  • When they’re expecting your help in their problems
  • When they’re using your resources for themselves
  • When they’re thinking of their good at the cost of yours
  • When they’re putting their responsibilities on your shoulders

These boundaries will slow down your adult child and prevent them from making worse mistakes in the future.

5. Be as Emotionally Supportive as You Can

The relationship between a child and parent guarantees emotional support for each other. And it’s clear that your child might be an adult to the society but can be as emotional as kids when around their Parents.

When your grown child makes a bad decision, they’re in a tough spot as well.

Mother supporting grown daughter who makes bad decisions

Thus along with other moves, it’s important that you give the fullest of your emotional support and always be there for your child.

  • Make sure you talk to them regularly
  • Ensure they don’t lose their self-esteem
  • Teach them regret means nothing practically

Note: This tip is only for the Parents whose grown children have come to the realization of their mistakes and bad choices are not egotistical to repel.

6. Expect Repulsion from Your Child

It’s definite that you as parents want the best for your child and is thus taking the pain of their bad decisions.

You want to help, with either good advice or any other way possible, to make their life better. But that’s not how binary it will sound to your child.

Since your child is now a grown adult, they have their responsibilities, their problems, and their right to make decisions; they might not like you judging their choices.

Grown daughter arguing with mother

Thus you should expect them to repel your opinion and reject your advice. In fact, they might not even reflect on their decisions once, before casting judgment on your advice.

All you have to do is to be firm on your stance, honest in your soul, and have a thick skin when confronting your grown child.

7. Share Your Own Experiences With Them

If you’re the parent, you bring more life experience to the table than your grown child. That’s just the truth. You’d always have seen more of the world than your children.

So when you’re grown child makes bad decisions you can share your own experiences to make them understand.

For example, you can go something like this;

“I can understand what you’d have thought the time you made this decision. I did something similar in your age…”

Mother talking to Grown child who makes bad decisions

This one phrase can shift the entire conversation to a much understandable level for your child.

Taking lectures from Parents is oftentimes considered boring but if you bring the conversation to the same level by sharing your stories, your grown child will relate better.

7. Live Your Own Life

Our choices decide the kind of life we’d be living. It applies to you, to your grown children, and to everyone in the world.

You can do the best you can to advise your adult kids and point them in the right direction but in the end, their life would always be separate from yours at some level.

Having understanding children is a true blessing, but what if they’re not that understanding in your case?

Should you let their persistently made bad choices, regardless of your continuous efforts to help them, dictate your life?

Of course not. Thus you have to do your part, help your grown child as much as you can but that should not come at the expense of your own happiness.


No matter how well you’ve raised your children; there will always be occasions when they’ll make mistakes. At times those will be minor problems and sometimes they’ll be huge blunders.

The only thing you can/should do as a parent is to help your child get out of any problem they’re facing (only when they need your help) and guide/advise the best you can for the future.

Again, how seriously your grown child takes your advice is up to them, but it’s important that you’re supporting them to the fullest and not making your own life miserable because they mishandled some aspects of their life.



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