Setting Boundaries to Keep the Peace When Parenting Grown-Up Children

Parenting challenges don’t end just because an adolescent reaches adulthood. As you continue to parent your grown-up children, think about the health, well being and needs of everyone involved. This will enable you to set and enforce boundaries to keep the peace in your family and help everyone feel satisfied.

Encourage Adulthood

With adulthood comes responsibilities and requirements. While you probably want to support and help your adult child as much as possible, there is the threat of doing too much and causing your child to regress, warns the Dr. Phil website. Children need to make their own way in the world, making decisions and devising goals. Encourage your adult child to strive for goals and have a plan for success, while clearly defining your boundaries and what you are willing to do for him. By setting boundaries, both you and your child know what to expect, which can help minimize resentment for everyone.


Communication will be the foundation for success when parenting grown-up children, advises Debbie Pincus, with the Empowering Parents website. Parents and their grown children each have specific needs and wants in their evolving relationship. Communicating clearly and effectively about everyone’s expectations and needs will ensure that no one has unrealistic expectations. As the parents of a grown child, your role changes to more of an adviser than an authority. If you approach the conversations you have as working together and collaborating, they might be more effective. Have a conversation to define boundaries -- perhaps Mom and Dad will step back and resist the urge to hover, with the grown child agreeing to keep them updated weekly.

Establish House Rules

Whether your grown children live in your home or they just visit, establish boundaries that will keep the peace when everyone is present in the home. Appropriate boundaries acknowledge the grown child's adulthood, while maintaining house standards. For example, common respect dictates that when a family member goes out, she leaves a note or tells a family member where she is and when she’ll be back. Another house rule might be the avoidance of drug and alcohol abuse. The house rules should be clear and consistent to keep the peace while keeping everyone safe. Such boundaries give your grown child a chance to show respect for you and your home while allowing you to show respect by creating house rules that apply to everyone in the house, not just the grown-up child.

Talk About Consequences

Just as you attached consequences to broken rules when your child was 10, so should you attach consequences to broken house rules now. The ante is considerably higher now, however, due to your child’s adult status 1. While you may decide to issue a warning the first time, the ultimate consequence should be that your grown child cannot be in your home if he will not follow your rules. This tough-love stance can be exceedingly challenging, but some young adult children need an eye-opening experience to understand boundaries and to make the decision to grow up. Clear consequences, explained in advance, keep people accountable for their actions, which can help you maintain boundaries and peace between people because everyone knows what to expect and can act accordingly.