Parents never stop being parents, even as children grow up, get jobs, move out and have families of their own. As a parent, you’re committed to your child’s success, regardless of their age, and you can’t help but feel affected when he or she is struggling.

You’ve spent your life teaching your child the skills they need to be successful, even in challenging times, but despite your best efforts, your child may find themselves in difficult circumstances as an adult. Perhaps they’re struggling with substance abuse issues or are engaging in other self-destructive behaviors.

Letting your child deal with the consequences of their actions challenges everything you’re supposed to do as a parent. The parenting techniques you used when your child was a child won’t work anymore. Now, any attempt to help them may be viewed as unwanted doting, nosiness, or meddling. It’s natural to want to help, and you should, but you must do so wisely.

Give advice when they ask for it.

Your adult child may ask you for your opinion or advice outright. When your child is curious to know your thoughts, take advantage of the opportunity, whether they’re asking about issues big or small. Offering advice on this little things establishes trust so your child may feel more comfortable asking you for help tackling more significant problems.

Remember that your child is an adult.

The parenting techniques you used when your child was a child aren’t any good. You can’t take away privileges, send them to their room or say “because I said so.” Your child is an adult, so treat them like one. If your child comes to you for advice, help them think through their options and their impending consequences. Focus more on the decision-making process than the actual decisions themselves.

Don’t enable them.

When you attempt to protect your child from the consequences of their bad behavior, they don’t learn from those consequences and are less likely to change. If your child is unemployed and living at home, make them get a job and start contributing to the household–financially or otherwise. If your child racks up thousands of dollars in credit card debt, don’t make payments for them.

However, you can help them put together a resume and apply for jobs, or help them establish a monthly budget and credit card payment plan. When you enable your child, you’re not doing anyone any good.

Set boundaries if they still live with you.

More adult children are living with their parents long after graduating from high school or college, a divorce, a lost job or other financial hardship. If your adult child is under your roof, it’s critical to set boundaries, so both parties understand the expectations. Require them to pay rent or earn their keep by purchasing household necessities, preparing family meals, etc.

Get help if you need it.

Your adult child may be acting like a child, but they’re an adult–and they may be convinced of their adulthood. Trying to get them to change their behavior without enabling them can be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially if they’re struggling with substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors and spiraling out of control.

Sobriety and relationship sanity is possible. At Immersion Recovery Center, we teach adult children how to function as adults, and parents how to offer support without enabling. With a range of family support services, we provide the clinical services necessary to heal relationships and restore your family’s dynamics. For more information, contact an Immersion Recovery Specialist at 561.419.3349.