Skip to main content

Dealing with a disrespectful child can be a very difficult and daunting endeavor. And that endeavor is made even more difficult when the child you are dealing with is grown.

When we envision raising our children, oftentimes, we don’t foresee them growing up to be disrespectful and cruel to us. Unfortunately, even if we don’t foresee it or even plan for it, it happens. The good news is if you are here and if you are looking for ways to rectify the situation, then you are already on your way to making the situation better.

Here are 9 effective tips for dealing with a disrespectful grown child.

1. Think about adjusting your parenting style.

There are four different parenting styles, authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. Authoritarian parents tend to be more punishment-driven, not allowing much room for their child to develop a sense of self, and set high expectations for them. Authoritative parents are kind and loving, while also being assertive and helping their children to become a better version of themselves. Permissive parents are the ‘best friend’ parent that lets their child do whatever they want. Neglectful parents are just that: neglectful and unpresent.

Studies have focused on how the different parenting styles affect their children, and when compared, they found that authoritative parents often produced the best and most balanced children. Additionally, they emphasized the need to give guidance and provide advice, rather than trying to be controlling over their lives.

If you are having problems, it may be time to adjust your parenting approach.

2. Stop trying to be their best friend or savior.

A lot of well-meaning parents believe they should be their child’s friend. However, it’s far more important to be your child’s parent, before being their friend. If you put yourself on their level, they will treat you as such.

3. Clarify the real-world consequences of your child’s behavior.

When your child is being disrespectful, explain the consequences of their actions. For example, if they are using your car regularly, tell them if they continue to be disrespectful to you, they will lose their privileges. Another approach may be that you will not allow them to talk to you the way they do and continue to stand by them. If they live with you, explain that they may have to make other arrangements for a living if they continue.

4. Respectfully correct them on their actions.

And make sure that you call them out for their disrespect. However, don’t match their disrespect with more disrespect. Instead, respectfully tell them that the way they are treating you is hurtful and will not be tolerated.

5. Set realistic expectations for your child.

Get clear on the expectations you have for your child. Reasonable expectations would be respect, honesty, compassion, and for them to stand on their own. Be reasonable with your expectations and make them clear.

6. Set clear boundaries.

Additionally, set boundaries. You don’t have to allow anyone full access to you, and you don’t need full access to your grown child. Respect their boundaries, and make yours clear to them.

7. Realize the difference between empathy and enabling.

There is a major difference between understanding and empathizing with your child and enabling them. You can be kind and compassionate, without being the gateway for your child to be disrespectful or unproductive. For example, if your child is an addict, it’s one thing to be compassionate and holds space for them. It’s another to give them money for their habit, even though you know what they will do with it. As their parent, you have to find the line between empathy and enabling.

8. Let go of the past and focus on the present.

Let the past be the past, and let go of it. Stop holding things against them, and decide to start anew. Make it clear that you want a fresh start, and stand by your word to let go of the past, if they can strive to be better. And do the same.

9. Schedule big talks.

When it comes time to discuss a hot button topic, make a special time to do so. Don’t do it impulsively or around other people. Be kind, listen to what they have to say, and express how you feel with feeling words.