for YOU, by YOU, BECAUSE of YOU: Guided Journal for Empowered Women

How to Deal with Disrespectful Adult Children: 4 Life-Saving Strategies

Posted on July 11th, 2023

Having a strained relationship with your adult children can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. When faced with disrespectful behavior from your grown son or daughter, it's crucial to approach the situation with care and consideration. 

In this blog post, we will explore four life-saving strategies that can help you navigate these difficult moments and rebuild a healthier connection with your adult children.

Reacting vs Responding

When dealing with disrespectful adult children, it's essential to understand the difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is an impulsive, emotional response that allows the disrespectful behavior to dictate your actions.

On the other hand, responding involves a thoughtful and controlled approach that empowers you to maintain your emotional balance. By choosing to respond instead of react, you take back control of the situation and avoid getting caught up in your children's negative behavior.

Recognizing your triggers is a vital step in learning to respond rather than react. Reflect on the words or behaviors that tend to set you off, and develop strategies to prevent these triggers from hijacking your emotions. By staying calm and composed, you can better manage your relationship with your adult children and foster a happier and healthier family dynamic.

4 Life-Saving Strategies to Deal with Disrespectful Adult Children

1. Be Silent and Don't React

One powerful strategy when faced with disrespectful behavior is to remain silent and avoid reacting impulsively. Silence can be a compelling response that allows both parties to reflect on their actions. By withholding an immediate reaction, you prevent escalating the situation further. This approach also signals to your adult children that their disrespectful behavior will not elicit the response they may be seeking.

Remember, being silent doesn't mean you are weak or passive. It demonstrates your self-control and the willingness to address the issue in a more productive manner. After taking a moment to collect your thoughts, you can then choose a suitable time to engage in a calm and constructive conversation about the behavior that occurred.

2. Agree to Disagree

Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship, but they don't have to lead to disrespect and hostility. When faced with a disrespectful grown daughter or son, it can be helpful to show them that there are better ways to communicate by taking the high road. Refrain from getting entangled in a power struggle or control mechanism that may be present in the conversation.

Instead, focus on maintaining your own composure and expressing your viewpoints without resorting to disrespectful behavior. Emphasize the importance of mutual respect and understanding. By modeling healthy communication and conflict resolution skills, you can encourage your adult children to adopt more respectful behaviors themselves.

3. Share Your Perspective

Another effective strategy is to calmly and assertively share your perspective with your adult children. Choose a suitable time when emotions are not running high and initiate an open and honest conversation about their disrespectful behavior. Use "I" statements to express how their actions make you feel, focusing on the impact their behavior has on the relationship.

Avoid blame or criticism, as this can lead to defensiveness and further escalation. Instead, strive for understanding and mutual growth. Encourage your adult children to express their own feelings and thoughts, fostering an environment of open communication and empathy. By sharing perspectives, you can work together to find common ground and rebuild a more respectful relationship.

4. Communicate the Need for Time to Process

Sometimes, it's necessary to take a step back and give yourself time to process your adult children's disrespectful attitude. Stepping away from the situation doesn't imply surrendering your power or weakening your position; rather, it demonstrates maturity and the desire to create a space for more productive conversations in the future.

Let your adult children know that you need time to reflect on the situation and gather your thoughts. This break allows both parties to cool off and approach the issue with a fresh perspective. When you feel ready, schedule a follow-up conversation to address the disrespectful behavior and work towards finding solutions together.


Dealing with disrespectful adult children can be emotionally draining, but with the right strategies, it is possible to rebuild a more respectful and loving relationship. If you need additional guidance and support in improving your relationship with your grown son or daughter, I invite you to contact me or book a coaching session with me. Together, we can explore tailored solutions and develop a plan to enhance your relationship. Remember, it's never too late to mend the relationship with your adult children.


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