Are You Parenting Adult Children Living At Home Getting Ready To Leave The Nest Or Finding Yourself Parenting Adult Children Living At Home Again?

When your youngest child turned 18, you thought you were done raising children.

Although your 18 year old has gone away to college, your 19 year old tried going
away to college last year, got home-sick and decided to come back home to go to
the community college.

Another child has been having a hard time. He lost his job and has moved back in
with you as well.

So now you find yourself parenting adult children living at home again.

You thought this was going to be a time to relax and have less worries. Instead,
you are still staying up at night wondering when your children will be in.

Sometimes it seems as though they are just bumming off of you and you feel as
though they are taking advantage of you.

You never know when they will be home for meals. On top of that, whenever you
reach for your favorite foods, they are gone and no one replaces them or lets you
know they need added to the shopping list.

You begin to wonder if they will ever become independent and responsible adults.

What Is The Best Way Of Parenting Adult Children So They Become Independent And Responsible?

Whether you are parenting teens preparing for or going to college, parenting adult children living at home who have never left the nest, parenting adult children who are living on their own or parenting adult children living at home again, the answer is truly as easy as following a universal plan.  The Parents Toolshop® “Universal Blueprint® Relationship Success Formula” is universal in that you can use it to improve any relationship, with your children, grandchildren, adult children, your spouse, extended family, co-workers,  etc. – If it’s a human relationship, using this plan consistently, in its entirety, will improve it and help solve any problem that arises within it.
The Universal Blueprint® is also completely customizable to any problem you encounter in those relationships, because the way you answer the questions and choose the tools is specific to that situation, with that person, at that moment.

Plus the Universal Blueprint® is simple to implement.  It is as easy as asking three key questions to figure out what is going on, and then using five simple steps to resolve the problem. Using the five-letter acronym, PASRR (each letter represents one step you should take) will guide you through any scenario to ultimately see your relationships improve!  Discover how parents and adult children can use PASRR to respectfully resolve conflicts by reading the article, “Whether Parenting Adult Children Living At Home Again Or Living On Their Own, How Can Parents And Adult Children Work Out Problems Respectfully?

Read on to learn the three key questions to ask when conflicts arise between parents and adult children.

3 Key Questions

Before taking action in a conflict with adult children, begin by asking yourself three questions.

Question 1: When problems arise, break them down, by asking, “Is this their problem, or your problem?”

Your problems involve issues such as safety, health, inappropriate behavior, rules, property, rights or values. If the problem is none of these, it is likely their problem.

Their problems involve issues dealing with school, work, siblings and peers, emotions and relationships.

Begin by asking yourself, “Ultimately, who is responsible for this?” With adult children, most of their problems are their responsibility unless it involves your safety, health, inappropriate behavior, rules, property, rights or values. If it affects you or others in this way, you have a responsibility to speak up and try to resolve the issue.

Adult children are responsible for their own school, work, emotions, relationships, and responsibilities.  Even if they are adult children living at home again, it is their responsibility to resolve these problems, and your role is to be supportive to them, provide a listening ear, and guide them through problem solving exercises and the process of decision making.  Enabling adult children by solving their problems for them, parents actually hinder children from learning responsibility and cause them to become more dependent on others to make decisions for them.

Question 2: If there is misbehavior, ask, “Is it unintentional or on purpose?”

Unintentional behavior is a result of absence of skills. Children fail to master skills for a variety of reasons including their age, personality, medical or physical disorders. If they missed learning skills during particular child developmental stages, or if they have not been taught the skill or had enough experience to make it a habit, they can behave in problematic ways.

Believe it or not, most adult children living at home simply haven’t mastered the skills to be on their own. Some are practical skills like how to get and hold a job, budget money, do laundry, or cook. Then there are internal skills, like how to self-motivate, resolve interpersonal conflicts, or make responsible decisions. An imbalanced parenting style (see Step One below) will leave adult children lacking in such skills. While these adult children should “know better” or know what they’re “supposed” to do, they may not have mastered the skills to do so. Trying to develop those skills as an adult is much more difficult than learning step-by-step as a child, with smaller issues.

If someone’s behavior is not a result of any of these factors, it is “on purpose.” They have consistently shown mastery of appropriate behavior, but deliberately misbehave.

If adult children lack respect for your property, this would fall in the “your problem” category.  For instance, they use your car and go through a tank of gas.  Since you put the gas in the car, it is your property.  You have a right to expect to find a full tank of gas when you get into your car that had a full tank of gas the last time you drove it.  Deciding whether it was done unintentionally or on purpose, you would need to ask yourself if that particular child had ever been taught that if they use up the gas in the car, they need to fill it back up before returning home.

Question 3: If the misbehavior is on purpose, ask yourself “What is the purpose?” This is a multiple-choice question with four possible answers: children want Attention, Power, Revenge, or they are Giving Up.

Possible reasons or goals for seeking attention may be to feel a sense of belonging, or to feel they are important or accepted. Children seek power to be in control of their own lives or destiny. Revenge comes from seeking fairness or justice for a wrongdoing. However, children give up due to discouragement, and therefore withdraw.

Figure out what the child gets from the behavior. Then, show them how to achieve that with the appropriate behavior. If adult children don’t know how to meet these goals through positive behavior, they will become discouraged and resort to negative behavior to achieve them. If you react and give the misbehavior a payoff, or escalate things, you’ll have a hard time undoing it later.

Learning and applying the Universal Blueprint® you will know within seconds how to respond to the most difficult or the most common problems of parents regarding adult children.

To get additional insights, information and practical tools and tips on how to build strong relationships between parents and adult children (whether they are teens, adult children living at home, adult children living on their own or adult children living at home again) listen to the Parents Tool Talk® on demand radio show episode, “Parenting Your Teen and Adult Children.”   Jody discusses such topics as: – skills parents need to help their children transition from childhood to adulthood; – Adult children with mental health or drug issues; – What children need from their parents at any age, especially as teens and adults; – How to preserve relationships when adult children move back in with their parents.

Check out the “Parenting Your Teen and Adult Children” episode now!


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website,

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