Habits That Will Make Your Adult Children Cut You Out of Their Lives

Habits That Will Make Your Adult Children Cut You Out of Their Lives

As parents, we all hope for a lifelong, loving relationship with our kids. But sadly, sometimes the parent-child bond breaks, and adult children choose to cut off contact. While every situation is complex and unique, certain behaviors can make this more likely to happen. Here are some major pitfalls to avoid if you want to preserve the bond you have with your not-so-little kids.

1. You constantly criticize their choices.

Your adult children are entitled to their own lives, even if you don’t always agree with their decisions. Constant criticism, disapproval, and comparing them to other people erodes trust and respect. They might start avoiding confiding in you or sharing details of their lives to minimize judgment.

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2. You lack boundaries.

Stressed. Young dark-haired man sitting with an unhappy look

Adult children need space to build their own lives. Dropping in unannounced, oversharing details about your life they don’t need to know, or calling them incessantly invades their privacy. Even if well-intentioned, this lack of boundaries can lead to resentment, anxiety, and worse, HuffPost explains.

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3. You refuse to acknowledge their feelings.

Minimizing, dismissing, or trying to talk your adult children out of feeling their emotions creates distance. Phrases like, “you’re being too sensitive” or “get over it” invalidate their experiences. Learning to listen and acknowledge their feelings, even when you don’t understand them, creates a stronger bond, and that’s what you want, isn’t it?

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4. You expect them to solve your problems.

It’s natural for children to want to help their parents, but leaning on them for constant emotional support or expecting them to fix your problems creates an unhealthy burden. Venting about your life incessantly makes them feel more like your therapist than your child.

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5. You never apologize, even when you’re wrong.

Young unhappy woman sitting on bed at home, waking up depressed, suffering from depression, feeling sad and miserable. Female suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Women and mental health

Parents make mistakes too! Refusing to apologize or admit wrongdoing conveys that your ego is more important than your relationship. Over time, this eats away at trust and shows your child that they don’t have to take responsibility either.

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6. You guilt-trip them.

Guilt-tripping is emotional manipulation. Phrases like, “after all I’ve done for you” or playing the victim to get your child to comply ultimately leads to resentment. Adult children need to feel they can make choices freely without owing you anything in return.

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7. You give unsolicited advice.

Sometimes your adult children just need to vent, not get a step-by-step solution. Constantly offering unsolicited advice or trying to “fix” their problems can make them feel like you don’t believe they’re capable of managing their own lives. Ask if they want your advice before jumping in!

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8. You’re physically or emotionally abusive.

Abuse of any kind is never acceptable. Adult children have the right to protect themselves and create distance from parents who continue to physically or emotionally hurt them. Abuse comes in many forms, from physical violence to constant insults or manipulative control, and that’s just to name a few. No one should stay in a situation like that, so who could blame them for cutting you off?

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9. You play favorites among your children.

Treating one child more favorably than another breeds resentment and sibling rivalry that can last a lifetime, GoodTherapy explains. Adult children often pick up on even subtle differences in parental treatment, and this can deeply damage relationships within the family. Every child deserves to feel equally loved and valued for who they are.

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10. You talk badly about their partner or spouse.

Unless their partner is genuinely abusive, criticizing them pushes your child into a defensive position and harms your own relationship with them. Even if you disapprove of their partner, respect your child’s choices and focus on building your own relationship with the partner, at least to a civil degree.

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11. You make everything about you.

Constantly steering conversations back to yourself, interrupting your adult children to share your own stories, or viewing their achievements through the lens of how they reflect on you is a recipe for disconnect. Show genuine interest in their lives, celebrate their successes, and let them have their own moments in the spotlight.

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12. You make promises you don’t keep.

Flaking on plans, breaking promises, even small ones, erodes trust over time. If you consistently show your adult children that your word can’t be relied on, they may stop confiding in you or expecting you to show up for them emotionally. Follow through on your commitments to build a foundation of trust.

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13. You don’t respect their time or commitments.

Your adult children are busy with their own careers, families, and obligations. Expecting them to drop everything for you or treating their plans as less important than your own sends a disrespectful message. Understand that their time is valuable and try to work around their schedule when possible.

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14. You compare them to other people.

Comparing your adult children to their siblings, friends, neighbors, or even their younger selves is harmful and hurtful. This creates a sense of inadequacy and undermines their individuality. Focus on their strengths and appreciate them for who they are, not who you wish they were.

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15. You constantly bring up their past mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes, and your adult children are no exception. Constantly reminding them of past failures shows you’re not willing to let them grow and change. If they’ve apologized and worked to make amends, it’s time to forgive and let go of the past for the sake of your relationship.

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16. You refuse to accept your child for who they are.

Whether it’s their lifestyle, sexuality, career path, or spiritual beliefs, trying to force your adult child to conform to your expectations creates a painful rift. Unconditional love means accepting and supporting them for who they truly are, even if the path they choose is vastly different from your own.

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17. You hold on to anger, grudges, and resentment.

Bitterness and unresolved conflict fester and poison a relationship. Focusing on past hurts prevents healing and can lead to your adult child distancing themselves to protect their own peace. While forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing hurtful behavior, it’s about releasing the anger that hurts you more than anyone else.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.
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