My Adult Children Treat Me Horrible. What Can I Do?

Morning friends,

We are in a new normal and I hope all of you and your loved ones are safe. It is unbelievable how just 4 weeks can change the entire world. Crisis of this magnitude has a way of introducing you to your best self. Your bravery, your courage, your perseverance, and fortitude. Your kindness and generosity and sacrificial spirit. And for some it also magnifies our worst selves. Our fearfulness, our criticalness, our bickering or complaining, our negativity, our victim mindset, or our self-centeredness and selfishness. Which self you allow to be in charge is up to you. Please take time during these difficult days to nurture your amazing self and put boundaries around your negative, fearful, or more critical self. We all have both, but which part of you is in charge is your choice.  

Today’s Question: What can I do about grown children 33 and 36, who get mad at me and are verbally abusive toward me? I’ve always been there for them. I have helped them move numerous times. I’ve listened to them when they were down. I babysit their children all of the time. When they had no food in the house, I brought them necessities. I took care of them after surgery.

When one of them divorced, I made a point of inviting her out to dinner so she could get out. Not that it matters, but we are upper-middle class. We do not curse; we did not physically or verbally abuse our kids. They just lash out verbally if and when they get mad, mainly at me. 

I have a neurological disease that affects my eyesight and speaking voice and ability to get my breath as well as a minor heart condition. These two children I’m talking about are my youngest daughters. We also have an older son and daughter. We have no problems with our son and our older daughter went through a “blaming” period in her life, but has matured and knows that her life is the result of decisions she has made.

What can I do about these two girls that cut my heart out with their words?

Answer: It is so painful to see our adult children express their worst selves, especially when it is against us, their parents, who would give our very lives for our children. Sadly there is nothing you can do to change your girls, that is their responsibility. But, there ARE some things that you can do about how they are treating you that may begin to influence and invite your girls to change themselves. You do not HAVE to let yourself be abused. That is not loving them or your own self.

When you are a repeat victim of mistreatment by someone you’re in a relationship with, you must stop and ask yourself what is your part? Please don’t misunderstand me. Taking a hard look at your part does not mean you are at fault for their mistreatment. But you must ask yourself why you have allowed yourself to continuously be mistreated and verbally abused by your own children without protest or consequence? Click To Tweet

My guess is that you fear that if you put your foot down and say to them, “I’ve had enough of this!” you fear to loose your relationship with your daughters and grandchildren. It’s true that they may respond poorly and not call you for a while because you’ve stopped putting up with their abuse. But my guess is that over time they will come to their senses and realize that you love them and they were wrong for the way they have treated you. Your stand helps them be more conscious of the kind of self they want to be. Continuing to allow them to be their worst self towards you does not help them stop to reflect.  

But if that doesn’t happen, ask yourself what kind of relationship do you really have with them? It’s miserable and painful. Therefore, it’s time to gather up your courage and put your foot down with your daughters. The next time one of them goes off on you and is abusive, I want you to say something like this:

“I’ve decided I will no longer allow myself to be treated this way. I’m willing to discuss what you’re angry about with me, but I will not allow myself to be yelled at, cursed at, or abused the(or whatever specifically they are doing at that moment).”

Then stop. Watch to see how they respond. If they mock you or continue the verbal tirade, simply say, “ I guess you didn’t understand. I’m not going to allow myself to be treated this way. I’m going to hang up now.” And then do it!

That shift in your behavior will shock them. They probably will call back, ream you out if you answer your phone. If you don’t answer, they will probably leave an ugly voice mail. Don’t call them back, don’t engage, don’t argue with them or get into a verbal war over your simple request for them to communicate with you in a respectful way, even when they’re angry. 

You will have to sound like a broken record and say the same few phrases over and over and over again. For example, “I will not allow myself to be treated this way any longer. If you’re upset with me and want to talk with me, you’ll have to do it without (screaming, cursing) at me.”  Be specific here as to what the specific abuse is.

If they refuse to comply, hang up or walk away. Your new response is to keep repeating these same phrases again and again and again until they get it. They don’t receive the privilege of your attention or your company or help when they are abusive or disrespectful toward you. If they stop their behaviors, you are all ears and willing to engage. 

Sound like a plan? Try it and let me know how it goes. Don’t give up or get discouraged if they don’t respond positively right away. They won’t. They’ll test you to see if you mean it. Stick with the new plan. Change doesn’t happen overnight and your daughters are in some bad habits that they probably aren’t even conscious of. But as you set your boundaries and firm your resolve not to be abused any longer, I believe that your daughters can learn to be more self-controlled and to express their anger or hurt in constructive ways. That is a win-win for everyone in the family. 

Friends, when your adult children or any other adults have repeatedly treated you disrespectfully, what part did you change to change the dynamics of your relationship dance?  

72 Comments

  1. Anewanon on April 1, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I am at a loss as well. I fear that my kids will be just fine with “no contact”. They have their wealthy Dad to provide for all their needs. They have no need for me. Its hard to let go..

    • Sarah on April 1, 2020 at 11:13 am

      I understand the feeling. My adult children and one daughter in law)tend to ignore me, or find something to criticize me about. They live far away but with phone calls it’s usually just me leaving a voicemail for a week until I continue to call…and when I post something to share they ignore my photos and comment on every one of others or there own. It’s really quiet hurtful but not sure if it’s worth making it a problem?

      • moonbeam on April 1, 2020 at 9:23 pm

        Sarah, have you asked them why they treat you like that? What do they say? What are their critical comments? Do they echo things your destructive spouse said to you? Are they just echoing the behaviors he began? If it hurts, yes it is a problem. Problems can be resolved. Talk about the feelings, the problem and discuss a goal. Try to get on the same page. Can you meet face to face and speak the truth in love?

        • JoAnn on April 3, 2020 at 6:06 pm

          I like this, Moonbeam. Finding out why they are treating her that way….open the door for some conversation without defensiveness. If that’s too hard to do on your own, invite them to a session with a family therapist, who will act as mediator. We did this with our adult sons when he was in a treatment center, and it was amazing how helpful it was.

      • Dialina Blackhat on December 25, 2023 at 4:39 pm

        I understand your feelings. It’s quite abusive when children you have given so much love to & treated good their whole lives treat you with such malice. There is so much out there giving mothers hell, tearing us apart as terrible moms, but no teachings about how mean our adult children are because of peers or spouses when we have done nothing except love & support. I’m presently going thu extreme emotional abuse from my daughter, because she has friends & spouse that don’t like me because I’m a different race. My daughter is bi racial. They have told her to cut me out of her life & the children’s lives. I was there always to help her until these people pushed her in this direction. I cared for the kids, cleaned her house, did the laundry, cooked the meals & played with my grandchildren. Spoiled her when she was growing up. I was a very good mom. Now she dont want me in her life. Has thrown anything I had at her house away.

        • Papadaddy on January 24, 2024 at 8:48 am

          If you think your children owe you anything simply for being there parent you’re wrong.

          It seems to me you believe your relationship with your children is transactionary. You feel like you are owed because you raised them.

          This is not how real life works.

          • E on February 14, 2024 at 11:20 am

            Ew. I think expecting our grown children to maintain a lifetime family bond with us after we moms have given them the BEST 20 years of our lives is quite reasonable.

            Youre entitled to not share perspective on family values, to not expect love or respect from family; but if i nurtured YOU for twenty years, youd best be sure we are a family!



          • Enoch on February 16, 2024 at 1:41 pm

            When parents raise their children with love, children owe a debt of respect. They gave you life. If you cannot be grateful for that gift, then you have failed to understand the basic nature of what you have been given. The only parent you don’t owe something to is an abusive one. And most of the time, even they are probably deserving of compassion for the circumstances that made them.



          • Yvette on February 21, 2024 at 3:45 am

            No, you are wrong! God Almighty cares and will hold them accountable. “Treat others the way you want to be treated. “. Do you honestly believe God is okay with adult children mistreating their parents, especially when they have given the shirt off their back? A parent has every right to be treated with respect. It may not be the way “life works,” but it still is what God, the judge of every man and woman commands and that is for sure. Everyone must give account as to how they treat others.



        • E on February 14, 2024 at 11:32 am

          Im so sorry youre going through it! Me too and its so painful! I especially agree that theres too much out there blaming parents, or suggesting we “raised them that way”.

          I agree with the commenter who said its the new generation- theres so much narcissism and entitlement! Social media has created a false sense of community, selfie centredness, and technology has us all rather isolated. Especially kids from parents.

          I dont even get calls on my birthday or holidays. I raised him well, put his needs before mine, gave him the best twenty years of my life! Now hes just absent. ADHD means “outta sight, outta mind”. When he does communicate, its wildly disrespectful and abusive. TMI, sigh. I hear you mum!

        • Sherri on February 20, 2024 at 8:25 pm

          Hello I am going through the same situation ever since her biological father came into the picture .she has treated me badly and at one time attacked me I know she’s on some kind of drug. I have giving my life to my kids and my grandkids but now I’m nothing.i currey take care of my oldest daughters son and now she wants us out and we have no where to go .I’m also facing possible cancer.any advice ? My grandson is in 11 grade and 3 months of school left he will fell the grade of moved to a different school..I’m at a lost she said oh he can stay here but you need to leave I rent from her and we don’t even have a stove ..please help

      • Professor JJ on December 28, 2023 at 12:58 am

        This generation of adults ( Millennials and Gen Z’s) are beyond disrespectful, selfish, and disgusting. It has nothing to do with the way parents raised their children so these therapists and counselors can burn that dated textbook. Society and social media platforms have brainwashed our children. Only GOD can fix these relationships through prayer and fasting. You’re wasting time with professional assistance because this is uncharted territory for them and they truly know they don’t have the answers. Temporary cut them off and let GOD fix the relationship… it’s the only alternative we have that we know will work.

        • Victoria on January 6, 2024 at 12:25 pm

          Thank you I agree wholeheartedly of what you wrote, all of it is excellent!

        • Lovechild on January 22, 2024 at 10:16 am

          This hit it right on the nose thank you

        • Pappadaddy on January 24, 2024 at 8:50 am

          First point, you’re the generation who raised this generation. Any faults are your fault.

          Secondly you come off extremely self-centered. You seem to think That your adult children with their own responsibilities should respect you simply by virtue.

          I’m sorry to say but if your children disrespect you it’s probably your fault.

          • Ranee on January 27, 2024 at 8:08 pm

            You are so very wrong to say that if an adult child is disrespectful it is the fault of the parent.
            Any person disrespectful to another person doesn’t care about others or they have deep seeded issues causing them to act that way.
            Adults need to take responsibility for their actions. If they are rude and disrespectful, then they need to find out what life is all about and learn the golden rule of treating others like they want to be treated. They shouldn’t go around blaming others for their unkind behavior. Grow up, look in the mirror and start thinking of another person and how you can make them feel good or help them to have a nice day. Make a positive difference in someone else’s life by a kind word.
            That goes for family members and parents.
            No parent is perfect or near perfect. But no mater who is disrespectful to you, it hurts 10 times worse when it is your child. Especially if it happens often.
            How we act is a choice. Our adult children need to act like an adult and choose kindness over hurting someone with mean words.



          • E on February 14, 2024 at 11:36 am

            Absolutely unacceptable and disrespectful comment- suggesting an emotionally abused parent is to blame. You exemplify this topic perfectly. Why be here? We have enough BS to deal with at home.



          • Sherree on February 22, 2024 at 6:35 pm

            Did your parent do something to make you feel this way? just asking



        • Helena on February 13, 2024 at 3:08 pm

          I agree. My Gen Z daughter is shocking rude, always talking about wanting to “f off and leave you and dad behind” she can’t wait to leave us – permanently. She leaves for university in September and tbh I’m
          Glad. She is so very nasty. There’s been no abuse on my part at all. If anything I’ve been too soft on her ..Her father used to smack her butt gently as a child if she acted up, but he stopped when I told him not to do it. He’s a kind and caring father. We have tried to bring her up to be polite and respectful but she’s the opposite. Rude, bitter, belligerent and downright selfish. She’s 20. She blames us for being an only child but after she was born I became infertile and can’t have any more children. I was devastated.. she looks at me like I’m dirt. A lot of hate in her eyes. I just don’t know what to do. I am almost suicidal due to this. Please help!

          • Rachel on February 20, 2024 at 1:07 pm

            Dear Helena I am so sorry that you are suffering and that you feel so hurt. Please hold on to your conviction that you should not be treated poorly by your daughter. It is not ok for her to be so purposefully mean and unkind. Try to hang on to the fact that she is young and behaving poorly now, we hope that with age and experience that she will grow up, mature and become a better version of herself. But I understand that it hurts incredibly bad right now and feels luke a permanent situation. I am going through similar, and it is all so fresh right now that it just feels even more intense each time it happens because all of the times it occurs it brings pain from previous occurrences along with it. Please hang in, you are certainly not alone.



          • Yvette on February 21, 2024 at 4:02 am

            Wow, in time you will heal. She’s immature , but you have to stand your ground. You cannot allow her to speak to you like that let her go on to college and don’t let her back in your house under any circumstances until she is remorseful and shows that she is willing to change. Otherwise, she will continue her disrespectful behavior, and she will grow up to be an older adult that disrespects her elderly parents. Nip it in the bud. These kids have to learn just like the rest of us the other day I took my house key from my adult daughter because I’m so tired of her trying to make me feel as if I don’t know anything about life, and trying to control what I use as sources of reference in our discussions.



        • Rita L Rast on February 14, 2024 at 10:36 pm

          Thank you for your very insightful input……agree totally with every word! It is a blessing that you shared your thought-filled message. Many need to understand that it is the society that we live in today…..the schools, universities, churches, media…..you name it …….and no matter what the children learned in the home……when they left home …… the infiltration with college, friends, et al…….influences that were contrary to all they learned in the home ……. CHOICES……WE ALL MAKE CHOICES…… and those choices become convictions. We pray, we love, we let go……God is always in control.

        • J.R. on February 17, 2024 at 7:42 pm

          Oh my gosh, I needed to hear this just right now. Thank you for speaking theses truths.

    • Sally on April 1, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      Anewanon , same here. My ex has made sure that he is all they need. I dread the mile stones in their futures that I will most likely be excluded from. It’s hard not to know if they are ok. I want to let go so I can move on. They want nothing to do with me. I pray God can lift their pain. I honestly don’t understand it. But I need to let them go.

      • moonbeam on April 1, 2020 at 9:17 pm

        This all sounds so terribly painful! It is possible that your abusive x spouses still have a stronghold on your children’s brain. They can be in denial. Often they have no idea how you suffered, often for their benefit to create a peaceful or happy home. Many of us ran interference over and over again to deflect the abusers antics. The children often didn’t realize what we gave up to make everything seem ok. They weren’t in the marriage they were just the kids. I also know that many abusers never accept responsibility for their actions and deflect all responsibility back to the victim through blame shifting and projection.

        I have a couple of thoughts, to the writer. Do you value yourself? Prove it. Disrespectful language is wrong no matter who does it. Do not tolerate it. Have you been taking care of yourself? What do you look like? What activities have you been participating in? Are you fun to be with? Do you have boundaries and do you ever say, no this isn’t a good time for me to babysit? Do you dwell on the past or give unsolicited advice to your adult children? These things are hard to look at, but sometimes we just need to check ourselves first.

        Then there is the other group, who is still be abused by their abusive spouse. The abuser has more money, more splash and flash. If they are a narcissist, they are grandiose and love their public persona. Realize they are very, very crafty and they will continue to fool many, many people. Heck, they fooled you once. You believed their attention and bravado was because they cared about you, really they just wanted to control you, they never cared a bit about anyone but themselves. They still only care about themselves and it probably looks good for their public image to have their children singing their praises.

        As women (men too) healing from trauma and/or emotional abuse we can’t let that kind of disrespect be a part of our world. If people aren’t 100 percent in your camp and are your advocate, you just can’t have them in your lives. They are deceived and under toxic influence. It seems counter intuitive to decrease your contact with your kids, yet they have indicated, they don’t really care what do you or who you are. I say, live you life fully. They will take notice. Be your best self. It may include accepting some really painful losses. Live in the fullness of the truth. Pray the relationships change, but they may not. The kids may be too far gone and under the toxic influence that was so difficult for you to leave. Speak the truth when you get the chance and then you have to let them go. Find new sources of affirmation and love. It will hurt, but some messes can’t be fixed. Live the best you can in the life you have now, let go of the fantasy and dream.

        • Lois on April 2, 2020 at 11:35 am

          I rejoice in these timely answers. If I may give a testimony … my h is narcisstic and he has a seemingly good relationship with all of our 5 children. I am glad in a sense. As each one is an adult now, but throughout time they have had difficulties with him and I would (I think respectfully) address each of their challenges without trying to change my h or them(we just know it isn’t possible). In hope that our God will give my h circumstances that may bring what he needs to see his errors of character. God has, but no real change as I can see… I have suffered much and did not know how to get healthy until I have joined the Conquer Journey Group. It is scary to get our “drink” of affirmation from some place other than where we have been seeking, but all of our family members even if they were good to us still will not be enough… they will not satisfy us fully. Taste and see that the Lord is good… this may sound trite if we sluff the saying off and think it isn’t for us… but it is for us. Our God does want to be our portion, our refuge, our well of living water, our ______… friend and Savior. As we suffer, we can turn more fully trusting in the One Who sees us. He will make a way. My pain with our oldest daughter is she seems to be too busy to do much with me, but that is ok. I am guarding my heart to not “pull” for anything from her. Lately I am taking better care of me by going to the gym(before this stay at home edict) by my self. I have found some encouraging people there and started to make friends. I am fasting from sugar – Wendy Speake has a following in Jan. each year to fast for 40 days to seek Jesus all the more. There is a devotional book and FB encouragements. This I am doing myself. My daughter noticed me and actually “rejoiced” in how I was looking. I believe our kids will notice our uplifted spirit… and if they don’t then that is fine. I also have found some other people in church who kind of can be like a daughter(or even an older lady to be a friend)… I want to be respectful and keep looking to the Lord to fill me and to ask Him to bring these daughter/friends to me, but there are plenty of healthy young adults who would like attention from a respectful godly & motherly or friend-like mom like me. Everything Leslie is saying is so great!!! We do not need to allow abuse to continue. No relationship is better than dying inside and believing a lie of who we are. Emotional Joy is waiting for you as you step aside the fiery darts.

          • JoAnn on April 9, 2020 at 12:46 pm

            Lois, I applaud your efforts to become your best self, and we can only do that as we engage with Christ and allow Him to do His transforming work within us. Move on, and don’t look back. Our God is our portion, our daily supply. Yes and Amen!



          • Ranee on January 27, 2024 at 8:37 pm

            Wow, Lois. Thanks for those encouraging words and ideas of how to overcome a hurtful relationship.
            I know that I need to find a place to exercise and I definitely need some Godly friends. But, so called friends at my church make me feel uncomfortable to the point where I don’t want to go there. They are not true friends. Starting a new church is not easy either.

            My struggle is with My daughter who can be very mean and hurtful to me and this is causing me to have great pain.

            She is angry but not only angry towards me but others at times. I truly believe she is struggling with depression. However, she doesn’t think so and blames others for anything she gets annoyed with.
            She struggled in high school with depression and it is worse now. I was the one she leaned on continuously.
            When she was sick she would get upset if I left her side. She wanted me by her constantly. And I did sit by her on the couch many times when she was sick. I remember being there for her always and with how she treats me now, it is confusing trying to understand why she is so mean.
            She is married with two children who I love and adore. I want to be with them as often as I can. But, last week her abusive behavior made me draw the line. I haven’t spoken with her for a week now and I miss the grandkids terribly. I want her to know that I won’t continue to take her abuse. I have told her this time and time again , she never changes and then I call to connect with the grandkids.
            I haven’t called at all for a week and I don’t want the grandkids to think that I don’t care about them by having no contact.
            I really don’t know what to do.



        • Sara on July 11, 2023 at 1:50 pm

          I understand the gist of what you say but that is a bit of victim blaming, I believe. I have physical conditions which affect the way I walk , sometimes I fall asleep, and in general, I’m aging. I would like to think my child, who is a physician, would have more empathy than to criticize my appearance (she does) or mock me to her fellow physician spouse when I nod off during a movie. You can do everything right, and then you find you happen to have a brilliant, wealthy, mean as a wet hen child.

          • E on February 14, 2024 at 11:40 am

            Well said!! 💖



        • Faith on October 30, 2023 at 12:29 am

          👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻🌟

        • Candy on December 15, 2023 at 2:56 pm

          I am 70, my children are 47 &50. They cut me off 11 yrs ago. Last yr my daughter said she forgave me in a message. We started talking, met twice, she explained that I was abusive, her recall of event was way off, which I understtod to be possible but also due to my ex, their stepfather being a sociopath, who triangulated us. She never calls and still sees me as the cause of her grief. I felt unwanted so I waited for her to call, maybe 2 months. She finally text me, then ignored me all day. Finally called me to tell me it was my job to call her, that she didn’t need to call me. Not how I taught them, we always contacted my parents.
          She ended up screaming at me for saying she can call, because I felt she was so busy.. I was suppose to call her early. too, hard for me.
          I started off appologizing and letting her know I love her before I realized what the problem was. I could sense she was upset in texts. She just started screaming and I couldn’t get a word in. I have gone through years of being manipulated and fighting to be free, so I no longer tolerate it.
          Her expectation that a relationship works when one gives and the other takes just saddens me, it’s just like my ex. I tried to tell her I won’t allow abuse doubt she heard. I did tell her I felt the same way which pissed her off more. She said she felt abandond and I told her I know the feeling after 10 yrs of her estrangment. I regret not just hearing her out, my bad. I had to hang up. She then text me she blocked me and she hates me. My response was obviously. I could have done better. I really feel she sees no need for her to take any responsability for her behavior or the hateful things she’s said for 30 plus years. I’m sick that I brought that person into our lives. Sick that I can’t help her. She just graduated college with a BA in child development. I know she understands and that it doesn’t seem to help when it comes to her feelings. Thanks for giving me a place to release some of this pain.

      • Elisa on June 6, 2023 at 4:19 pm

        I have the exact same situation. I.m completely broken x

        • S. Green on August 20, 2023 at 11:12 pm

          I get it. I am sad for you. I don’t believe I will ever understand. How has my sweet child grown into a cruel woman who doesn’t care that she hurts me. Maybe even enjoys it. I don’t know.

    • moonbeam on April 1, 2020 at 9:29 pm

      Can you ask them how frequently they would like to hear from you? So many your people are focused on their own lives that they mindless don’t bother checking in on their parents. I find they want encouragement and affirmation yet haven’t crossed over into thinking maybe you need them. Then again, we really shouldn’t need our kids, right?

      Has anyone heard of the term spousification? It is a psychological term in which a parent uses their child for age inappropriate support. It is common in destructive marriages in two ways. The abuser can do it to a child as a form of manipulation and the victim can do it to a child because they are so emotionally deprived by their destructive spouse. The key is that it is abusive to the child at that point because they are not designed to be their parent’s therapist or outlet for their parent’s needs.

      • Robin on April 2, 2020 at 1:54 am

        I think in a destructive marriage, children often mirror what they saw in one or both parents. If the marriage relationship was not ‘one’ and ‘united’ there is bound to be many negative consequences. I have adult children that have not chosen to get healing for their wounds. And so they do act out. I don’t accept their disrespect and I’m always working on giving them the love they need. But unhealthy destructive marriages often lead to adult children with deep wounds. I wish I could have been a strong stable person in their lives, during their childhood- but unfortunately I had a lot of healing myself to work on. I know it’s hard and complicated when children act out- but my two cents would be to keep working on having healthier relationships with them, and when it’s necessary have good boundaries.

        • Christina on April 2, 2020 at 9:09 pm

          Robin, you took the words out of my mouth. I feel so bad that I wasn’t a strong stable mom for my children when they were younger. I too have had to deal with a lot of healing myself. Unfortunately, I spend many of there younger years still hurting from my childhood, thus, wasn’t healthy enough to respond appropriately to my abusive x h.

          • Teri Graham on May 17, 2020 at 9:00 pm

            Robin and Christina. Me too. Same boat. How I would like to have been strong and stable for my children, but we work with what we had, and make amends along the way. It’s a broken world and we have to trust that if they choose to mature and stabize that God will do for them what He”s done for us.It’s critical not to blame or punish your heart for not being able to give to your kids what you did not have. Had we what they needed, we would have gladly shared blessed them. There are a lot of things I did right too. Think on those things.
            It is often the case that the grown children will not change, and that they just wont’ get it. To be focusing on 30, 40 and 50 year old “kids” is not where you want to be. Leslies’ voice and teaching helped me end a marriage of 38 years of abuse. The years were unsafe. And, I put up with it. My kids watched me take so much and they naturally aligned with their dad for self-preservation. They are in a deep state of neuro-net disorder which means their brains are hardwired to react to you in a particular way. What we do with our lives quite frankly will generally have little effect on their behaviors. Even at 40 years of age, they still see Mom and the dysfunction from the lens of a 4 year old. Love them, stay compassionate, but don’t expect anything in return.
            And absolutely build the boundaries that protect you from letting them treat you the way you have been treated for decades. Saddle up and ride your own thoroughbred. It’s a new pony show and you’re going to win a blue ribbons. Become balanced and confident through CORE.
            Life is good. It’s an adventure and must be done in Christ our Lord. He Alone must become your Everything.



          • Julie Smith on November 9, 2022 at 11:10 pm

            I raised my only child alone with the help of my mother. He knows that I would do anything for him but seems to resent me. He’s married to a narcissist and I have a new grandson but they don’t seem overly happy to see me and are disrespectful. When I ask if something is wrong it’s deflated. I’m confused and lost.



    • Severely Depressed Mom on June 11, 2023 at 6:08 pm

      I so hear you there. When my kids were younger me and their father split.. he was a drunk kids didn’t see him much he never paid child support.. yet here is mom doing it all always. Growing up I married their dad twice. And divorced again. Now they grown adults. For some reason they put dad on a high pedestal and I’m the sh*t on their shoes always. They run to do things with their dad all the time but they run from the idea of plans with me. I do a lot and I mean alot for my oldest and her son but yet in return I get treated like crap. I e done all I can do to prove myself to her time and time again but yet I get nothing. My kids have never said or bought me anything in regards to best mom worlds greatest mom . My bday or Xmas I get a scratch off ticket dad gets a paid in full trip outta state with kids to hunt. I just don’t get it and I’m so tired and tired of being hurt over and over and I need to know what is it? Why treat me this way? I’m putting my foot down and I’m separating myself from thema lil at a time cuz my heart been stomped so many times it’s now flat…

      • E on February 14, 2024 at 11:55 am

        Im sorry Mom! I too have an ex who failed to be there for my son- i would have to beg him to call more often; he never visited or called his son. I did everything on my own and thought Id have raised a son who adored me for having done so much… he used to adore me after all.

        Well now his dad calls maybe three times a year, and boy is my son nice to him! It helps a bit to know its only because they want the fathers approval, but it doesn’t help a lot because he’s supposed to be nice to ME.

        I am trying to get used to not having my loving son anymore, but it still hurts really bad sometimes. When it hurts bad, I work on trying to nurture and love myself. Theres some good videos and stuff thatll at least get me through the REALLY bad times.

        I hear you, and am sending you some much deserved love!

    • The bad mom on February 4, 2024 at 12:56 pm

      Hi everyone, I seen being a parent to adult children isnt what I expected it would be . My son has not visited over 3 times in 4 years . I have a grandchild that will probably never know me at all . When he is around he is this person that I do not like to be around . He has a way of making me so uncomfortable. I am truly sick over what kind of man he’s turned out to be . I have never seen a more rude ungrateful human in my life . Now if people think this behavior is ok , more power to them . I was taught to respect my elders to be kind and not take life for granted. I prefer being without him than to be disrespected . However I feel sorry for him. When the time comes that his eyes are opened to what he’s become and if I’m no longer around he must live with him self now that part hurts . I do love him with ever thing in me but I hate his ways. I can’t except nor be comfortable with the actions of no one treating people so poorly. The bad mom.

  2. Taylor Stany on April 2, 2020 at 10:44 am

    I understand you were doing the best you could in raising them up, but Repent for sparing the rod and spoiling the children! It’s not physical abuse to physically discipline children as the Holy Bible calls for it in Proverbs. Also, pray and fast (Matthew 17:21 KJV) over your situation, dust your feet off, and take time to heal. If you keep submitting yourself to this abuse, you may leave this world soon than later. Satan’s job is to steal, kill, and destroy; Understand that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but demonic entities and wickedness in high places (Ephesian 6:10-13 KJV). You don’t have to explain anything, just distance yourself, heal with Jesus Christ, pray and fast and if they are willing to truly and sincerely repent for how they are dishonoring you by treating their very own mother like a dishrag, then, with high discernment, slowly, very slowly, let them back in to your life. They must prove they are truly trying to serve God and treat their mother in a Godly fashion, not like Satanic demons. Please guard your heart. They must be born again of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ to see God (John 3:3-7 & Acts 2:38 KJV) and with this behavior, they are clearly on the way to Hell Fire with Satan and his demons unless they Repent. Pray, fast, worship Jesus in song, Psalms, and dance and Let go and let God and feel the burden of all of this evil lift from you. Matthew 11:28 KJV*** Praying for the victory for you and your family in Jesus Christ Mighty Name.

    • Yup on April 3, 2020 at 4:04 pm

      Gonna go out on a limb here but calling out someone to repent for not spanking their children as the cause of emotional distancing in adulthood is a bit of a reach. Hopefully that piece of guilt didnt reach the heart of the writer of this question.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2020 at 4:28 pm

      I don’t think we know why her adult children feel entitled to treat her this way so I’d be careful on calling someone to repentance. But you’re spot on saying she should not continue to submit to their abuse.

    • Rita L Rast on February 14, 2024 at 10:25 pm

      100000 % SPOT ON! I choose not to go into my story bc it is much the same as many on this platform. Your reply is excellent……. It is very well stated and are my exact sentiments……….The entitled children of today make choices and it is all about choices……. Selfish or not selfish or whatever boundaries we must set or they set for we parents……it is all part of the way society is today. We pray, we reminisce about what and how and then we let go and let God. CHOICE is key…….The 4th Commandment is not a suggestion……A sin that is not really mentioned too much today is the: Sin of Remission
      To remit is to forgive. Remission is a related word, and it means “forgiveness.” The “remission of sin,” then, is simply the “forgiveness” of sin. The phrase is used in eight places in the King James Version of the Bible.

      Matthew 26:28, for example, says, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Modern translations such as the English Standard Version render the phrase “for the forgiveness of sins.”

      Luke has three examples of this phrase. Luke 1:77 says, “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins.” John the Baptist “came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3). When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He said that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).

  3. Christina on April 2, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    I think what Leslie has to say is spot on for the abuse you have mentioned about your adult children. I would like to as another questions related to adult children. How would you handle an adult child (20) dropped out of college came back to live with me. Now he doesn’t hardly talk to me. locks himself in his room most all day. Gets on the internet, watches movies and plays video games. Comes out at night and fixes food for himself. He doesn’t eat much. I told him he could stay with me but he had to get a job and pay rent. He won’t get a job (or he might have one on the internet that I don’t know about) won’t pay me rent and basically ignores me most of the time. If I start to talk to him and he doesn’t want to hear me, he puts his head down and goes to his room. He won’t leave! He has NO friends and nowhere to go. There is no physical abuse, so I have found it hard to get him out via the police.

    • JoAnn on April 3, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      Christina, something is going on with him; he may be doing drugs of some kind, or watching porn or playing internet games, but whatever it is, it’s not good. you might need to seek help from a family therapist. With no leverage, you have no way to force him to get a job or to move out. I wish I had some suggestions, but I don’t. Maybe someone else will.

      • Christina on April 8, 2020 at 3:03 pm

        JoAnn, It is internet games as I know he doesn’t do drug, smoke or will have anything to do with porn because of the abuse we have been through. For 10 years I have tried to get him help, but now that he is an adult he has to want the help and he has to ask for it. I can’t make him because he is now an adult. I feel like I will have to take he hard road and enforce the eviction that was approved but put on hold when COVID-19 hit. it’s hard to watch your kids going down a path that you know isn’t good for them.

        • Free on April 8, 2020 at 6:54 pm

          Christina, What if you tried to enter his world? Ask if you can play a video game. Have him talk about it. Ask about his music and his dreams, don’t nag. Tell him some real things about you and your needs. Ask him to help you with a project. Let him pick the project.

          Sounds like your son is running away from some pain through escapism. I wouldn’t kick him out of the house. I think he will just get into more trouble. He is still pretty young.

          The problem of this “failure to launch” situation is popular in Japan too. They have a name for it, which means something like, men who don’t come out of their rooms and just play video games all day. Not that this is the same thing at all, but in comparison, Japanese families hire a girl to come talk to the guys. She is not a sexual interest, but what they call a “sister.” They found that young women were able to break through to these young men. They laughed at their jokes, listened to their interests and somehow the guys slowly began to leave their rooms. Interesting if you ask me. Its seems the guys were desperately lonely and just couldn’t connect socially. Some felt they just couldn’t meet the extremely stringent expectations of today’s Japanese businessmen, so why bother? They had just checked out and gave up. Maybe google about this situation, it may help give you some insight.

    • Valerie on November 9, 2023 at 2:01 pm

      Hi, I think he has a mental illness and I do not know how you are going to get help for him. Maybe if you had a counselor for yourself, they could direct you.

  4. Sarah on April 9, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Wow that was an interesting take. I wish I had been more knowledgeable back when my son was displaying the same social issues with me after his dad left us and he was home alone with just me. His older siblings were no help they were living out of state and were living their lives selfishly not caring. Even when I asked his older brother to intervene. It is a hard place to be for a mom and I probably did all the wrong things. This is such interesting info about the Japanese boys/ me.
    I hope things work out. Some people are socially different and will be their whole lives. My son is very quiet and is now living with a girl who maybe he likes/loves …not sure but I think it’s companionship. I pray and pray for God to be his Father and that he will seek God. He was raised in our Christian home, school church all the right things.

  5. Kimberly Wade on April 21, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I know this first hand. I have two stepdaughters in their 30’s….I have done as much as I possible can to work at having a relationship with them. Humbled myself and asked for their forgiveness when I’ve been wrong…and I have been. But something ALWAYS seems to set them off and quickly, I feel like I have to always walk on eggshells, when things don’t go their way they are quick to reject me….because from their viewpoint I’m always doing something wrong. The verbal abuse over the years has been awful!!!! What I struggle with is how do I allow them to have a relationship with our younger ones when they are so disrespectful to me. I feel bad about this, but I don’t want there to be a lot of conversation because once one of the older daughters tried to come between me and a younger daughter. So there’s absolutely no trust. I know my husband hurts over this. However, I don’t think it’s God’s will for this disrespect to continue…cursing me out, etc. Right now there is barely any communication…it’s sad during this epidemic that we are separated like this. But I believe the separation is necessary for now until God says it’s ok. I definitely pray for them. This is the only way there can be change, along with repentance.

  6. Caroline Shammas on April 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I read some of your responses. I’m in the middle of a nasty divorce from an abusive malignant narcissist after 22 years of marriage and then he abandoned our family and turn my older daughters against me.
    I am all about setting healthy loving boundaries. As far as children locking themselves in their room and being attached to the Internet. one of the ideas that I have done that has worked is I change the Wi-Fi password daily. They have to earn the Wi-Fi password letter by letter by coming out of their bedroom, engaging with the world, showing that they are taking part in a healthy schedule that includes exercise, taking care of their room, cooking, cleaning, helping tidy the community area, doing things on the to do list, schoolwork, job applications, etc. once everything on the to do list is done they earn the Wi-Fi password, prime tv, Netflix whatever password

    • Liz on April 21, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      That is a very good idea! Cuddo’s to you!

  7. Patricia McDaniel on May 2, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Thank you Leslie for being there for us women. I look forward to your messages.. reading with a stress headache.. be safe..

  8. Emma Go on August 21, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you. This is so helpful to me ! I am all alone. I am trying to be strong, but this is very hard. I am. 65 and my daughter is 40 and only one grandson My daughter manipulating me with grandson , systematically abusing me and not calling me Mama. Also systematically blaming me. I try and try nothing helps. Sge has mental illness

  9. cathy on September 4, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks that is somewhat helpful ive tried putting my foot down as above but my son is a narcissist so its extremely difficult. He only calls me when he wants to talk about himself, never asks me how i am or even wants to engage in conversation with me he’ll talk over or makes an excuse and hangs up. Never invites me over unless its a holiday but will call me and tell me who he did invite over for an outing. Stuff like that. Half the time he doesnt answer my calls or texts. So now im gonna try to be like him and when he calls or texts i won’t respond until a week later. see how he feels cuz honestly im done.

    • Fran Nowak on September 14, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      I go threw that with my narcissist son all the time been doing this to me for decades. Last wk he told me that he hated my guts.

  10. Ali on December 3, 2021 at 5:34 am

    I’ve communicated that I will not be treated poorly to my daughter for several years. Each time her response is that I am playing victim and I have a victim mentality. That hurts even more. I have never used her treatment of me as an excuse for anything. I tried to separate my life from her a year ago and she kept telling me what a bad mother I am. I don’t want to have a relationship with her.

    • Christina on February 10, 2022 at 1:00 am

      Your daughter does the EXACT same thing as my daughter does to me. If I hear I am playing victim one more time I am going to lose it. I feel like I have always been on this crazy train with her. I am beginning to believe my daughter is mental. It is time to exit this train my friend.

  11. Elle on December 5, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    My daughter is like this but has mood swings. She has a mental illness which her dad and I have dealt with since she was 12 years old. She’s now 19 and still lives with us. She makes friends with people who are worse off than her and she feeds off their mental illness. I’ve struggled with what to do because I don’t want to end up with a dead child. But she needs to grow up. Whenever she makes these friends, her dad and I and her siblings are garbage in her eyes. When she doesn’t have friends, then it’s really hit or miss if she likes us or not. It’s a miserable relationship and I’m tired of trying to reach her. All the advice I’ve received is to be there for her because she’s depressed but at what point do you say “enough is enough. What about my own mental health?” Sad to say but I think letting her go is the only answer. It’s scary because the end result might be a bad one.

    • Jenn on January 19, 2022 at 3:07 pm

      All you can do is try raise your kids with Gods help in the best way you can , show them love until they become legal age , from there it’s time for them to step out in the world spread the wings and fly , as it was for you , your husband , me and everyone else in this world . You don’t remember thinking at that age that you knew better than your parents ? That your parents seemed to be a nuisance sometimes to you ? My advice is pat yourself on the back you made it and Let go and let God .its time for them to fly .

  12. Tracy on December 28, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    My daughter is 19 and treats me horribly. I do so much for her but it’s never enough. She only talks go me when she wants something. If I ask her a question, she’ll just shrug her shoulders and not say anything. It’s very hurtful. I finally reached my breaking point tonight. I told her that her attitude is no longer welcome here and that she can move in with her dad. Whether or not this was right or wrong, I don’t know. What I do know is that I can’t be treated this way any longer.

  13. Lorraine on March 13, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you for reaching out to me. I am and have been verbaly abused by my two daughters. 54 and 40. The older one drank for 15 years however stopped and now her bad behavior is upon me being narsistic towards me in subtly ways causing me much anxiety at age 77. Years ago I was afraid she would not have a place tolive or even die and so I kept on giving. I am learning not to be the care taker anymore as it all backfired on me however her mental abuse towards me is subtle but still repeats towards me. and toward me. I have continued to be for her now for years helping her when she needed help and so much she never had to ask for help I was so ready to jump in. I realizing now how sick I was too however I am still puttng up with verbal abuse from both my daughters and they take over even when I am in their company. I hate that and it seems they also both go against. I live closer to the older one and the visit is so hard for me as they both dismiss me and show me no respect. no . I was so afraid she would not have a place to live so I gave and gave now I am so mad at myself for doing this as the mental abuse towards me is still there but more subtly. She pushes my buttons and I struggle with sensitivity. The younger daughter knows what she does to me however refuses to allow me to talk about the other. I realize that may be a good thing for her however I need to change and and feel anxiety when we are visiting as both my daughters have meant so much hto me and now I am getting a taste of how much they do not really care at all about me and I have been so blind. I need to take important steps and did confront the older one who is mean and laughs in my face when upset. It has been a long time since I visited her and stayed with her the first four days being here waiting to get into my place and the the abuse to me verbally put downs and disrespect was too much for me to cope with.I want to change and I am and have been very independent and neither of my daughters have done anyfthing for me. All I asked for is respect, to be heard and ot talk into me or over me and a Christmas Card and a birthday card. It seems to me they can’t even do this little. The older one is doing better works and the younger daughter married with two girls told me off to say anything bad abut the older one does not want to hear it and now I feel neigher of them really have any respect nor love for me at all. I am crushed getting older and filled with anxiety as I was very mentally abused as a child and sometimes feel the same as I did then. I am a spiritual person and if described I would say I am a kind, loving sweet loyal honest generous spoiritual person. Now I feel like nothibng as this visit is with both dauthers and the youger one told me off when to the older one’s house and all having a picnic. I felt crushed and abandoned. My grandson also has a chip on his shoulder and I resent how now he talked to me today. He always protects him Mother except I have been the one dishing out money to my daughter his Mother. No more dan done with both of them and I know now I can not wear my heart my sleeve ever again with both dauthrers. This was my first visit at my new place where before I lived for 38 years and know now I made a bad mistake moving and buying a condo here by my older daugher. I need to get more into the word but feel frozen in time.

  14. Judy on March 20, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    I came across this site searching for ways I can communicate with my daughter, without saying anything that will irritate her. I pray every morning for the Lord to help me know what to say to her and help me not to say anything that irritates her. It does not take much to set her off. I can usually tell if she is in an irritable mood. I tell myself to be quiet and let her do all the talking. I know it is during those times no matter what I say it is wrong. I try to think of ways to let her know I love her. I leave her notes that say how proud I am of her and that I love her. I do small things for her, I clean her apartment every Friday, so she can come home and rest and not have to clean. She does not pay me to do this. I do it because I love her. I just wish I knew how to communicate with her. I am at a loss in that department. She will yell at me not to talk to her like a child, but I have searched back on what I have said and I don’t know how I managed to set her off. I have told her in the past she is the one talking smart to me. It just makes things worse. I tried the silent treatment for a few days and call her and tell her I am sorry. She will be nice for a while and I unintentionally say something stupid. In her defense, she has a very stressful job . Any suggestions will be appreciated.

  15. Sarah on August 9, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    I am going through hell with my 24 year old daughter. She lashes out at me constantly. I know she is miserable in a very toxic relationship with her baby daddy but she won’t let him go. We are both going through sheer hell. My son passed away in February unexpectedly and we are both in hell over it. He is 3 years older than her. These are my only two children and my granddaughter is 3 (her daughter).

    I have been divorced from their dad most of their lives. He is toxic, has always been awful and he was horrible to our son. That really affected him all of his life. He was better with our daughter but not at the expense of losing his 32 year old soon to be wife number 3 now. My daughter is very hurt over him but she still chases him. She also still chases this loser baby daddy she won’t leave. I have tried and tried to get her to realize she is not alone and deserves so much better and my granddaughter deserves better than to be in that toxic, fighting, environment or it just repeats iteself.

    My daughter takes literally everything out on me. She cusses me, screams at me, and if I take up for myself at all, she keeps my granddaughter from me. I a devastated. I am already barely alive from my son passing away, His first birthday gone is next week. She is boycotting going on his camping trip in his honor. She is angry because things aren’t going exactly as she wants things. I put this together and I am paying for she and I to go. She wants me to pay for the babby daddy again, and I refuse to do it, and I don’t have the money to support him too. That seems to be expected from her.

    So I am trying to get ready for this trip even with her screaming she isn’t going. I think it’s awful she wouldn’t go celebrate her brother’s life at this birthday trip. It’s all I can do to get through day to day without him, my heart is shattered. I know hers is too, but I’m the target of all the lashing and pain. Not sure what to do but to keep my boundaries down to not let her talk to me the way she does and get through it. And I miss my granddaughter soooo much 🙁

  16. Debra on December 28, 2023 at 2:06 am

    I talked to them about how I was so disrespected and set some boundaries and that was it for me..even more cruel and I was kicked to the curb…silence

    • Chris on December 30, 2023 at 9:04 am

      Debra, I am so afraid of that being my fate. I am sorry for you. My daughter is often cruel to me. My fear of losing my grand children makes me have to just take her crap. She is mean to her kids too. Some days I feel like I will go crazy. I have read every post on this site. I am both glad and sad to know I am not alone. I guess it is normal for kids to hate their parents. Who would have thought ???

      • Leslie Vernick on December 30, 2023 at 12:21 pm

        Chris I’m going to say something that may seem crazy to you but I’d like you to think about it. You’re right our kids ‘hate” us sometimes. And probably if we’re honest we hate our kids sometimes but hopefully never say it to them. Feelings are fickle. That’s why they are terrible decision makers. You are not alone, there are many here who relate to your stress and family situation. But here’s what I want you to think about and I’d love for the rest of you to consider it too. We only allow someone to continue to treat us hatefully to the degree we hate our own selves. If that’s true, you can’t change her feelings towards you, but you most certainly can work on your own feelings towards yourself. How might that change things both internally for you as well as externally in your relationships?

  17. Carolyn Brown on January 17, 2024 at 6:14 am

    Thank you for the read, I don’t feel so alone and different, there are many of us going through this with our children. I choose to be the best of myself and take care and make good memories right now. My ex- is also wealthy and can do many things for the children, but I do feel very invalidated as their single mother and worked hard to make life normal for them..

  18. Ranee on January 28, 2024 at 8:40 am

    While I am keeping my distance with the hope my daughter will realize what she is doing and why she acts abusive towards me, how do I handle not talking with or seeing my grandkids? It isn’t fair for them to wonder where I am and why I don’t come around to play with them and take them places.
    How do I handle this? My grandson is 7 and he has witnessed many times how mean my daughter is towards me as well as unkind actions and words she uses. It is a shame but he sees this and He will say, “Mommy, quit being mean to MiMi!”

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