How to Deal With Rude Adult Children

Traditionally, a parent actively raised a child until she was old enough to move out and support herself, helping to preserve a respectful relationship. Today, a changing social and economic landscape redefines the traditional hierarchy between parents and children. Disrespect from a rude adult child is difficult to address, since your child is old enough to be responsible for her own actions. Since discipline isn't an option for adult children, it's time to have a frank discussion about your changing relationship and how your child's rudeness affects you.

Man sticking out his tongue disrespectfully. (Image: Shannon Fagan/Hemera/Getty Images)

Step 1

Redefine your relationship with your adult child and consider how that affects your behavior toward each other. For instance, if you're in a position where your child is supporting you, your child sometimes assumes a more parental role. Don't allow your redefined relationship to lower your worth as a parent, allowing your adult child to treat you poorly. Considering the changes in your relationship helps you identify why your adult child is being rude.

Step 2

Arrange for a time to speak with your adult child. Acknowledge any changes that have altered your relationship and let your child know how his rudeness affects you. Stay calm and avoid making accusations. Instead, use "I" statements to take responsibility for your actions and emotions. Instead of saying, "You treat me badly," say, "I feel insignificant when you raise your voice at me because that feels disrespectful."

Step 3

Set clear expectations for behavior. Even if you rely on your adult child for support or your child has moved out and no longer answers to you, you still dictate how you're treated. Explain that you expect to be treated respectfully by everyone, especially your adult children. Clarity helps to foster open communication between you and your adult child.

Step 4

Stop making excuses for your adult child's behavior. Telling yourself that your daughter was short with you because she's stressed at work only gives her permission to continue her rude behavior. Hold your child responsible for her behavior and notify her when you feel violated or hurt.

Step 5

Withdraw yourself from the relationship if the behavior continues. While you may not be able to put your adult child in time out for rudeness, you can take a time out from spending time together. Show your child that a relationship with you is no longer a necessity, but a privilege. Respect is a two-way street and you needn't continuously submit yourself to rudeness and disrespect at the hands of your own child. Return as an active contributor to the relationship once your child acknowledges his behavior, apologizes and commits to acting more respectfully in the future.

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