10 Reasons Why Your Adult Child Treats You Like Dirt

As parents, we invest a lot of time, love, and energy into raising our children. We watch them grow from helpless infants into independent adults, hoping that we have instilled in them the values and principles that will guide them through life. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, our adult children treat us poorly. They may be disrespectful, ungrateful, and dismissive of our feelings. It can be hurtful and confusing, leaving us wondering where we went wrong. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why adult children may treat their parents poorly.

Lack of Boundaries

As parents, we often have a hard time letting go of our children. We may want to be involved in every aspect of their lives, offer unsolicited advice, or make decisions for them. While we may have good intentions, this can lead to a lack of boundaries that can make adult children feel suffocated and resentful. They may feel like they are not allowed to live their own lives, and as a result, they may lash out or distance themselves from us.

Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health and behavior. If your child experienced abuse, neglect, or other types of trauma as a child, they may struggle with emotional regulation, trust issues, and attachment problems. They may also have difficulty expressing their emotions and communicating effectively, which can lead to conflicts with their parents.


Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration. If your adult child has narcissistic traits, they may view their relationship with you as one where you exist solely to meet their needs. They may be dismissive of your feelings, belittle your accomplishments, and demand constant attention and praise.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can have a devastating impact on a person’s life, including their relationships with family members. If your adult child is struggling with addiction, they may lash out, lie, steal, or manipulate to get what they need. They may also be unable to maintain healthy relationships, which can lead to strained relationships with their parents.

Financial Dependence

If your adult child is financially dependent on you, they may feel resentful or ashamed. They may feel like they are not living up to their own expectations or the expectations of others. They may also feel like they are beholden to their parents, which can lead to feelings of powerlessness and resentment.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders, can impact how a person interacts with others, including their parents. They may struggle with emotional regulation, have difficulty expressing their emotions, and may act out or withdraw from their relationships. It can be difficult to navigate a relationship with a child who is struggling with mental health issues, but seeking support from a mental health professional can help.

Unresolved Conflicts

Sometimes, conflicts from the past can continue to impact a relationship in the present. If there are unresolved conflicts between you and your adult child, they may continue to harbor resentment, anger, or hurt. They may also feel like they cannot trust you or that you do not understand them.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences can also impact how parents and adult children interact. If your child was raised in a different culture or environment than you were, they may have different expectations and values. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, especially if neither party is willing to compromise or learn from each other.


Enmeshment occurs when a parent and child have a codependent relationship where boundaries are blurred, and the child’s individuality is not respected. This can lead to feelings of suffocation and resentment, especially as the child becomes an adult and seeks to establish their own identity. If you have a history of enmeshment with your child, it may be necessary to work on setting healthy boundaries to repair your relationship.

Poor Parenting

Lastly, it is important to consider whether your parenting style may have contributed to your child’s poor treatment of you. While it can be difficult to acknowledge our own shortcomings, it is important to be honest with ourselves about how we may have contributed to our child’s behavior. This does not mean that we should blame ourselves or take on all the responsibility, but rather that we should take a reflective approach to our parenting and make changes where necessary.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why adult children may treat their parents poorly. It is important to approach the situation with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to listen. Seeking support from a mental health professional or family therapist can also be helpful in navigating a difficult relationship with your adult child. By working to understand the root of the problem and making changes where necessary, it is possible to repair and strengthen your relationship with your child.

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