With little effort on their part, toxic adult children are able to make others miserable with their dysfunctional traits.

What’s worse than unruly children? I think that would be adults who act like children, those who have toxic traits and ruin the lives of others. And yes, they do this. And where does this behavior come from?

Well, apparently, these adults have either gotten too little or not enough attention as a child. They seem to be forever stuck between the ages of 5 and 7 emotionally. Although they may be smart, they are also cunning and manipulative, just to name a few traits. And I am not blaming the parents, by no means. Sometimes dysfunctions come from other areas.

Toxic adult children are common

There are ways to recognize these individuals. Their traits are so heinous, they literally run others away from them. In fact, some of these adult children are so easily recognizable, you can avoid them.

However, there are a few that can hide their toxic traits for years, long after they’ve started a serious relationship. This is the most unfortunate part of all.

So, let’s look at some signs to help us recognize them. Because honestly, we either stay away from them or help them in a guarded position.

1. Physical health problems

Adults with child-like emotions often develop serious health issues either in early adulthood or later in life. As much as their toxic behavior affects us, it also takes a toll on them as well. You see, it’s hard to function as an adult with adult responsibilities but yet react with childlike emotions. It just doesn’t fit. The habits of child-like children, mostly diet, are horrendous.

This mismatch causes physical ailments from toxic stress, poor eating, and low activity levels. This amount of stress on the body causes an increase in cortisol which hinders healthy body proportion and weight loss. This sort of stress also affects the heart and nervous system.

If child-like emotions are erupting within an adult situation, the stress can be enormous for both the adult child and their victim, which is, much of the time, the parents.

2. Broken relationships

Of course, toxic adults cannot retain a normal relationship with another person. At least, it’s not a common success story. Adult stress from a child’s perspective will see most aspects of the relationship in a skewed manner. When it comes to intimacy or communication, these toxic individuals will have little idea of how to make their mate happy.

Remember, they are thinking with childish emotion. This is especially true with communication, where these individuals usually refuse to talk out problems, rather throwing tantrums or ignoring their mate altogether. They will apologize sometimes, but it’s rare.

3. Substance abuse

Not all adult children partake in substance abuse, but many do. One reason they turn to drugs and alcohol is that they watched their parents or some other relative do the same thing. But again, this can also come from other sources, such as childhood friends or just the need to be rebellious throughout life.

If they’ve experienced any type of abuse that caused this habit, they can become trapped at that moment, reliving the pain and heartache of various traumatic past situations.

Sometimes the parents may have neglected or abused the child unknowingly. I know, my parents left me home alone quite a bit with an aged grandmother. Needless to say, bad things did happen. Adult substance abuse can be attributed to many experiences of children.

4. Gaslighting and blaming

Toxic adult children will never find themselves at fault, at least for the most part. If you’re trying to deal with someone who never takes the blame or tries to make you feel crazy, you may be dealing with an adult child. You see, children often run from responsibilities and they often place blame on other children.

Most of us grow out of this stage and learn how to appreciate healthier qualities, but some grow up to plague their parents and loved ones with these horrible actions. The adult child, as they are stuck at that moment where something affected them greatly or stuck in selfishness, will rarely learn to be a productive member of society, in terms of getting along with others.

5. You will notice patterns and role switching

Adults and children are impressionable on one another. Toxic behavior can spread from parent to child easily and vice versa. If the child has grown to only become an adult child, then sometimes their offspring will grow into the same pattern of behavior with their children, putting extra strain on the grandparents.

On the other hand, these grandchildren may also dodge these attributes and become the parent of the family. You see, someone has to take care of responsibilities and if the parent, or adult child, doesn’t do this, the real child will have to forego childhood to take control. It’s a sad situation. Many times the grandchildren see their grandparents as their real parents because of the stability they often provide.

Do adult children ever grow up?

Parents, if you want to understand how to handle your adult children, then you must take a few considerations.

  • Stay confident: adult children tend to bring down confidence levels with their actions. Stand firm when dealing with them.
  • Don’t go it alone: seek professional help when dealing with your adult children. These toxic traits run deep.
  • Be kind but strong: tough love is sometimes needed, just make sure they know you love them.
  • Get educated! Read as much material as you can on this strange character flaw. Learn and apply what you learn.

Although it’s usually a grim diagnosis, some adult children eventually grow up a bit. They may not become the outstanding citizens they should have been, but they can become better equipped to raise their own children and hold down relationships. The toxic behavior of childlike adults is something difficult to conquer, but it can happen.

If this is something you’re going through, don’t give up. I have seen people change, but I have also seen them take quite a long time to do so. The keys here, I believe, is educating yourself about the subject and patience. I wish you the best.


  1. https://www.nap.edu
  2. https://news.umich.edu

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This Post Has 50 Comments

  1. Lesley

    Instead of the term Adult Toxic Child, one should call these people what they are – they are narcissists. Unlike the popular opinion that narcissists are only 1-2% of the population, it is much higher than that. There are your ordinary low level garden variety type of narcissists and they create just as many problems for people as the 1-2% who have a clinical diagnosis. Also in most cases, it is the parents that molded their children into narcs.

    1. Sherrie Hurd


      The adult child is one difficult person to be around at times. I know them, a couple of them, I might add. Usually, they were severely neglected as children and learned much of what they know from their peers. Sometimes one or both parents died or left at an early age, and this also drove them to learn from their peers. Usually these peers had similar circumstances and they began to relate to each other in childlike ways up into adulthood. While yes, they do exhibit narcissistic traits, I think it is more unintentional unless they also suffer from a personality disorder separate from their neglect. It’s hard to say, and it’s extremely difficult to understand what they’re thinking sometimes. After all, we’re dealing with children in adult form. It just doesn’t fit, and so it’s a task to understand.

  2. Prometheous

    Well. After reading what you have to say I can’t help but feel disappointmet to the point of almost outrage with regards to your predispositional attitude & bias towards individuals with whom your article applies to. From my perspective, everything you had to say applies to you just as much as it does anyone else. Given the fact that I’m an “adult child” as you so i eloquently put it. I not only prefer the term man child but probably have that in spades if compared to anyone else. i also have at least enough maturity to own that fact & the reality of the situation im in as well. Without resorting to denigrating behavior in response to what you said in your article, i would prefer instead to share something with you that also has to do with me, “because it’s been my life up & to this point & I can’t do anything but accept it all.” By the age of fifteen i had already experienced “being kidnapped, parental divorce, “custody going to the wrong parent,” abuse, neglect, starvation, accumulative years of isolation, malnutrition, desolation, mother abandonment early off “8yrs old maybe,” abusive step-mother, multiple motorcycle accidents before the age of 8, “my dad nearly died in one as well & on the rare occasion I wasn’t along for the ride” & nealy jumping or falling off the back on more occasions because i was more terrified of the ride than dying from the fall because i was to small & barely strong enough to hold on “countless in excess of a 100 mph,” him almost blowing my brains out with a gun on accident “because he was being sadistic & having fun at my expense, not realizing i had chambered a round after cleaning it,” he also had many other methods of tortue he’d employ on occasion, “frequency/duration depending,” likelihood of being raped & sodomized at an early age by a man, “possibly him, but likely someone else to include different scenarios, caregivers & locations, somewhere in all that i may have witnessed the ritualistic rape & murder of another child my age, hard to tell because of repression, being sexually molested by a babysitter “girl” i was 3-4 her 10-12, exposure to inappropriate sexual behavior, to include acts & pornography, 2-3 TBIs, being shot with a pellet gun on multiple occasions, being shot at with live rounds from a rifle several times, moving away from & loosing contact from all extedended family members & being stuck with just my father after he remarried. No help with school, as well as being bullied by classmates & neighborhood kids. Stopping there because “Trust” when i say theres plenty more. From 15 on is another story entirely & just as bad. I’ve definitively faced my death 9 times, trifold with a gun in my face, “last time was my supervisor in the military,” to include overhearing by accident the premeditative planning to end my life while deployed, im not going to include the rest, there’s just too much context & im digressing. “Trust” me when i tell you that im not aiming for melodramatics, sympathy, or a shoulder to cry on, im just trying to convey some perspective here. I would love for someone to understand me & really get to know me for once. Realizing it’s unrealistic because there’s just too much for anyone to process & understand, let alone believe by this point. It’s been impossible for me to relate to others enough to get past being stigmatized, stereotyped, or falsy accused of doing something im not doing, didnt do, & in all situations had no plan on doing. I have more disorders of personality than i can figure out, let alone any therapists, “most are unauthorized to work with me because their not qualified enough,” many of those were working on a Doctorate. Im dyslexic, autistic, “which doesn’t bother me.” Id like to add one more thing before i get to the point. The one time in nearly 40 years where I actually have met someone who i know understands me, who i can actually identify with, inspires me beyond words to the point of tears, & i would do anything for & want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible with, im potentially going to forever lose all because of the lack of understanding & nature of these seemingly simplistic words. Ignorance, ego, lack of compassion & empathy assumption, jealousy, vindictiveness, moral corruption & more. The individual I mentioned is my daughter & she’s only three & a half. Yet regardless of that fact every time im with her she almost always does or says something that impresses & fascinates me to no end. As numb as i am i could be in a bad mood & unwittingly look at a picture of her & instantly have all that burn away to include a ridiculous smile & a feeling ive never known. Please excuse my french but She’s that fucking bad ass! m going to offer some advice & condense it all for the sake of brevity & understanding. I highly recommend you look up the definition & meaning of everything im about to say. Compassion, understanding, guidance, virtues “to include the positive & negative ones,” bias, cognative biases “all of them, perspective, ambiguity, interpretation, influence, affect & effect “as well as how they differ from each other,” concept, conceptualization & “its importance with regards to large amounts of context & information,” context, pretext, synonyms, antonyms, circumpunct, faith, trust, hope, belief, vulnerable, vulnerability, pain, suffering, abuse, neglect, neglecting, respect, antagonist, protagonist, assumption, presumption, presumptuous, value, values, ethos, guidelines, safeguard, gatekeeper, forms, defect, disability, bully, bullying, denigrate, denigrating, nature, nurture, position, polarity, inspire, disapoint, disappointing, hopelessness, suicide, homicide, violence, domestic violence, infant, child, adolescent, adult, innocence, guilt, guilty, gullible, gullibility, accusation, character assassination, nihilism, past, present, future, unknown, unknowable, perfection, defection, handicap, endless, form, formlessness, anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, acceptance, disbelief, theo, theology, direction, misdirection, missinformation, dissimformation, psyops, prefect, adept, security, agent, agency, free, freedom, slave, slavery, master, apprentice, submission, submissive, domination, dominance, brother, sister, father, mother, neo, marxist, diplomacy, communism, democracy, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, root, cause, causality, causation, solute, solution, problem, soluable, solvable, never, all, allways, anyways, betray, cry, sad, sandness, vague, moment, precious, awe, awesomeness, ignorance, enlightenment, death, life, trancendence, forgive, forgiveness, time, timeless, stale, stalemate, advantage, king, queen, knight, rook, pawn, gesture, history, broken, unbroken, unbreakable, believe, believable, unbelievable, dictionary, function, reality, possible, impossible, psychology, Jungian psychology, alchemy, base, baseless, myth, mythos, interpretation, the nature of duality & reality, matrix, illusion, illistration, base, debase, the different phases of matter, dark matter, dark energy, discipline, consistency, profundity, proficiency, professional, unprofessional, human, inhuman, humanity, humility, humiliation, humor, dyad, self, selfish, selfishness, authority, authentic self, control, dissipate, insecurity, conscience, consciousness, confidence.

    And speaking of confidence im pretty confident that I’ve privided you with enough information to take it from here. Id recommend getting intimate with a good dictionary as well, “I’ll even hand you a paddle as well so you can join me & not have to go at it alone. There’s plenty of words i could have added & know i missed that are just as relavent to the rest as well as the point I’m trying to make as well as the message im trying to make with all of this. Any where you go in life & at any moment you feel like switching polarities from the positive to the negative with regards to your attitude “& I cannot stress the importance of doing this atleast a few times a day everyday” if you’re out & about enough. Stop, take a moment to look around, take in the details of your environment & remember this & always this, what you see is what you get & that’s exactly what you have to work with at any given moment, you’re just as much of a value or a burden “let alone influence” to anyone & everything you see around you. That you don’t get points for being an idealist, you’ve got to work with what you have, anywhere and everywhere, to include always until the sand runs out of the hourglass that represents how much time you have left in this life. Every moment is precious beyond the human capacity for understanding let alone acceptance. Words hurt & have just as much power & potential for destruction as they do for creation. Make the effort to atleast try & be respectful of & responsible with that revaluation. If ever you fret & feel that you’re about to switch polarities & lose your composure please do this one thing for me, “just this one thing,” please. Take a moment to inhale & exhale, relax & quietly repeat to yourself what im about to say “because this for your own personal sovereignty in that moment & no one else.” “Be still and know that i am God.” Faith, Hope & Trust. Because that’s all I have left in this world that can never be taken away from me. I’ve had to let go of the idea of ever having a meaningful relationship with another woman, lost all of my friends & anyone resembling family, & now i stand to lose my daughter for good, “not to mention my son with which I’ve never met.” I live alone, & thankfully what i earn each month from being a 100 percent disabled Vet provides me enough to just get by. I “Hope” my novel of a comment to your post can at least give you some perspective. I’m religious to the point of ambiguity, open to all theological concepts & mythologies within reason & am only saying this because i worry that my “be still and know” comment might dissuade you & anyone from else reading this away from the big picture. Take care & Godspeed

    1. Sherrie Hurd


      So, Prometheus, I do like your name. I thank you for any of the advice that I take away from this because, let’s face it, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We take what we want away from each encounter, right? My heart does go out to your trauma and your hurt, and I hope your heart goes out to mine as well. I think I’ve written about it so many times that people are tired of hearing it. Yes, I can act like a woman-child too at times, and that’s okay, I’m working on that. Am I always optimistic, oh good lord, no…..not at all. I have some really hard days where I’m not sure I will talk to you guys ever again or do anything ever again. But that’s just me. I do manage to do it all again, however, and I see many things I would have missed, including your comment, which I adore. I love reading everyone’s perspective and listening, truly listening to what they have to say. Thank you for the many words you left for me…some of them I will have to look up because I am unfamiliar with the definition. Thank you so much. I guess other people would find your words harsh, but I don’t. I have heard so much worse and cried myself to sleep so many nights I have lost count. I find your words insightful and they help me see things from a different perspective.

      Thank you so much for reading. Please, feel free to offer any advice you wish at any time. Be blessed and know that you can do all things…you know the rest.

    2. Jaine

      To say all that??? You need to sit down with a professional……of your choosing.

    3. Don

      You are definitely in need of professional help.

    4. Carmen

      ❤️🙏❤️ Hope you’re doing well and I guess your daughter’s 7 1/2 now! 🌸 Love and Peace! All things to Jesus through Mary 🙏

  3. Sam

    Thankyou Prometheus.

  4. Athena Devlin

    I 2nd that thank you. For the shining example of precisely what a text book narcissist truly its. If I was one, Is list every last shirty thing in my life as week. However, I’ll leave it at the fact that the shit ranged from flat lining for 45 minutes at the age of 4 to my husband cheating on me with transsexuals and being me home HIV. Every one head had shit Halloween to them. Get the fuck over it. Still letting it control today. That shit is in the part. Sup using it to act like a fucking jackass. It’s not cute.

    1. Sherrie Hurd


      Thank you again for reading. We must not forget the pain associated with some of these issues that people go through.. I used to be so self-absorbed, myself, that I thought I was the only one abused, neglected, and turned into a monster. Yes, I’ve been kind of monstrous before. Anyway, growing up, or not growing up is different from person to person, but hurting someone, isn’t okay. And even if they never care, we just have to forgive them anyway. I thought about vindication and goingn about bopping folks on the head and all that would do is get me banned from a lot of places and maybe in jail….so I choose forgiveness.

  5. Violet Dancy


    Interesting read . I have a kid like curiosity and have had a ‘ unique ‘ upbringing.
    I just find I am resourceful and appreciate all… even the bad as I know better to not reproduce it. Learning from all . If you didn’t know cold it would be hard to appreciate warmth .

    Thanks from the deep.

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Thank you, violet. There is no light without dark….yes.

  6. olga gendelman

    Thank you soooo much for your article !
    Helped me and validate my feelings of where I am in my case.
    My daughter IS toxic to the point would be funny if being too sad , she is 45.

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Yes, I understand about it being funny sometimes. It’s just that the toxicity is so obvious and cruel that you find it funny how a person can think they are driving down your self-worth. Yes, they may temporarily hurt you, but if you are strong, you know who you are. You actually feel sorry for them and hope and wish they would stop. You hope they stop because you don’t want to remove them from your life. That part isn’t funny, it’s tragic. A toxic person will see you hurting and feel triumphant that they have succeeded, but in reality, your hurting is your mind trying desperately to help them and keep them as a friend or loved one. They don’t get it. Sometimes they step right into the grave they are digging for you.

  7. Alice Via

    I am the mother of a son in prison and we have a very toxic relationship what can I do ?

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Well, for now, visit him and show him, love. I assume the visits aren’t that long so it shouldn’t be too difficult to stomach the manipulation. It’s going to be a different story when he gets out. Make sure you tell him that your relationship is not good and see if he takes responsibility for his part. This is the first step. If he does, then you can get counseling together. If he doesn’t then you can get therapy to help you deal with your relationship with your son. Just take care of yourself.

  8. j.r.tablan

    I live with a son that has seen a long term mental problem, he’s 30 years old and been manipulating the internet , apps and the computer in my car. This has been going on for over five years and there’s no slowing him down. He works as a security consultant in computers users.
    Some of the effects that he has done still lingers on on some of my apps.
    Pease help!

  9. Tammy

    Can you refer further reading materials? This is hard for me as I am dealing with an adult child. During this pandemic, a lot of counselors are closed for business. I feel like my heart is about to burst into pieces. 😢

  10. Janine

    I have a daughter and a son who think turning up two hours late is normal, it’s so infuriating. When I complain I am accused of being dramatic, and of are we going to go through this again mother and how we are not there for you. They tie me in knots.

  11. Janine

    Life isn’t about giving advice. It’s about listening and learning about the other persons pain. You can’t put yourself in their shoes. You can be kind though and say your feelings are valid and I am here to listen. It’s going to be ok. X

  12. Chrisp

    I have a 30 year daughter who depends on my for constant financial support
    I provide her a condo to live in and pay most of her bills since she was 16 ( she has never lived with me and the relationship with her mother was only a few months although I have always been apart of her life since birth)
    when I confront her about working or taking over her own bills
    I get emails threating suicide and told Im a horrible person
    (in much more disguising violent langage that I would not post)
    and that she has various illness , seems a new one every couple of months
    this behavior started in late teens (I remember she told every body she had terminal cancer)
    some illness seems to real as I have seen prescriptions
    it has gotten progressively worse and starting to fear her safety and mine
    I want to get her out of my condo and have her take over her own bills
    but dont want her homeless

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      For 14 years this has been going on. The hard part is this time that’s transpired. She knows you will do whatever she wants, basically. Now, I wouldn’t ever want to risk her suicide, but something has to be done. I do believe she has some personality disorders or mental illnesses, but not sure what they are. One of them could be bipolar disorder. In order to understand what to do, you have to get a diagnosis of her illnesses. She has to be willing to let you in her life so much that you can go with her to the doctor and see for yourself what she’s dealing with. If she’s not willing to let you go, then something is off.

      I am not sure how you can convince her to let you into her life this much, but it would help to know the truth. Bipolar disorder is considered a disability, in case you didn’t know, and if she cannot work, she can apply for disability for her condition. She also needs to be willing to see a counselor with you, so you have a mediator to sort through things. Usually, this mediator or good therapist can recognize how to handle any suicidal threats. In your case, professional help is needed. YOu can start with you. Yes, I said to you. You need to talk to someone on a regular basis to help you with the growing frustration and anxiety. It’s building up to explosive proportions if you’ve dealt with this for 14 years. Talk to them, tell them everything, and hopefully, you can get her to join you. I agree, she does need to take care of herself, but it’s going to take steps to get to that point where you feel comfortable. By all means, we want to keep her alive because I know you must love her dearly to endure this.

      I hope some of this helped. OH, and having a support group of other family members or friends is a good way to vent for yourself and pool together ideas. Just avoid anyone who is harsh. This is a delicate situation.

  13. Linda Gutch

    my daughter never got my full love and attention growing up since I was depressed and always arguing with her alcohol father—never meant to neglect her emotionally—she is married and I often babysit my grandkids —I try to give her as much love and occasional financial support but she is often nasty and abusive towards m—have apologized if she felt neglected during childhood—she becomes angry and unreasonable sometimes—never shows me affection—sometimes she’s fine and fun to be wit—but unfortunately she can be mocking towards me—Please offer me any strategies—I pray she finds peace

    1. lucy

      She probably is full of rage if your apology included the ‘IF’ word. I’m sorry if you felt neglected…. basically excuses your behaviour, and doubts her feelings. Check out non- apologies.

  14. LA

    Yes, this is so true. I have a mother and two daughters who are very toxic and I find that it hurts me to my heart but, I know I have to cut ties with them. What hurts so much is when you spend so much time defending yourself and hurting when every time I get involved with them. My daughters act just like my mother and my mother is now 86 years old she will never change. My daughters are in their forties and they are just as hard to deal with. I give up.

  15. Bobbie

    Wow this is enlightening. Its good reading for any one with issues or anyone doing a refresher on
    co dependency
    People first look a the guy with all of the horror stories. Why does he have the right to judge, name call belittle and abuse? Answer He DOES NOT HAVE THAT RIGHT. Please be firm and not allow him to use this platform to get his fix. Also lets let the passive aggressive and co dependent habits go. HE is nasty, punishing and wrong to bring his crap here. HE obviously has not healed and never moved forward.
    WE need to get away from sick abusive people who do not want to do the work to heal. RUN

  16. Bobbie

    I had to come to a awareness years ago. The word Adult has meanings. To name a few things, It means privilege’s and opportunity and also responsibility AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
    Hopefully we raise our children to be able to be self sufficient and responsible caring people. This is good. If and when we keep them dependent it is bad and only for us not for them. We should not feel letting them fail is a bad thing and we should never feel responsible for their choices. Very young children sneak and do things that they know they are not supposed to do. This is natural and is part of learning how to make good decisions AND TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their OWN choices. We have to protect them the very best we can and discuss things with them and pray we can keep them safe while they grow. We can not protect them from making bad choices all of the time. We can not take away their pain from those choices. We also have to accept that they have the right to believe and do things different than our beliefs and that is normal and good.
    Let them face the consequences the responsibilities and the growth that comes from all of these. Let them become responsible adults. Remember every time you “rescue them” you also keep them from growth all to make yourself feel better.

  17. cindy spengler

    how can i get help living with my hateful mother and daughter as if i am trash to them and dradto them..they yell and put me down infront of the 3 year old child .the child tells me shut up graama and listen to my mama and nana.my daughter is so hateful to me infront of the child.what can i do.please.help

  18. Jack

    I have read and very much loved this story through no fault of my own. The end result is they become bums and addicts in nearly every case. Children learn young and if they are spoiled into a life of drugs, parties drugs, etc… It is very, very hard to break them. I see a ton of stories and nearly no solutions.

    The bottom line is they have to make a decision to change and if we/you keep feeding the beast they will continue until they have consumed you. You have to draw a line, cut them off, period. Mine threatened suicide and did all he could to manipulate my wife, spoke to her like a dog. Anything to get money for drugs.

  19. Lorrie

    Get a life !!!

  20. Loraine

    I believe we all fluctuate between different energy states, victim energy, child energy, adult energy, …I do not believe we all have to forgive, that too is a choice, I like to re frame it, I choose to forgive myself for carrying around the baggage of a another human being that is evil…,dead to me…

  21. Bret

    I am a toxic adult child. I am what I am. I am an addict, an alcoholic, and an all around mean depressed person. SO I keep to myself. I do not have contact with my mother or my brother. I could care less about them. However, I do pay for all my drugs, I work two jobs, have for over 20 years. So I guess Im a functional addict. I wish I could figure out how to be a normal person, but Ill never be normal so why whine about it. Those of you parents who have toxic children, news flash. Its more than likely YOUR fault. Your poor parenting and what not. Not all the time but I find that to be true more often that not. Anyway, just wanted to share my two cents. Not sure why. Im sure you all find me an idiot.

  22. Dang Right I'm Angry

    Yes, Bret . . . Toxic and abusive parenting results in adult children with multitudes of problems. I live with complex prod because of my family of origin . . . Thanks for that and the insidious toxic shame you gifted me with parents . . . One of whom bailed by suicide when I was 13 months old . . . The remaining parent made me the scapegoat and traumatized me to no end with a remarriage and her new family. I wish I could sue my parents, and I just turned 60. Hold your heads high adult children of toxic parents!

  23. lisa

    what if my boyfriends adult child is telling our friends she wants to kill me and it will be done even when he passes away .he is bad health and has prstate cancer.she says i killed her grandmother…i havent done anything wrong ti her or anyone else in her family.

  24. dianne morgan taylor


  25. RAJER

    Finally a good write up and understanding of what is going on with adult children who are estranged. I have read horror stories on how the parent is bad, interfering, etc. none of which I do nor did and the recommended solution is to remove adult children and their families from the parent – really??? How does this solve anything? I am a professional businesswoman, have two adult daughters and seek only open communications and I don’t try to run their lives. My adult toxic children have zero respect and do not believe parents are relevant in their lives, but should be on the sidelines – you know, sit down and don’t speak. Both of my toxic adult children are heavy tv watchers. The one adult has been a toxic child since the age of 15 and well into adulthood – no addictions only heavy on tv watchers+video game player which both are major mind control mechanisms. She maintains her control by keeping my grandchildren from me and now at the age of 48, has successfully dragged my other daughter into her camp of adult child toxicity who has joined in the control factor of preventing access to my other grandchildren. They have won! Bravo for them! I have stepped away from these toxic children and have little contact as the pain is unbearable. Do they care? The answer is NO – I expect this will continue on most of their adult lives and their children will experience this lack of family unity so important in an individual’s life. I wish this type of parent punishment on NO ONE. Being human seems to not count in their sensitive world. I see no near term resolution as it has been years of anguish going all the way back to the 15 yr old. For other parents of toxic adult children, I understand the pain, anguish and loneliness, my focus has shifted to helping others and for my children, the years that have gone by will be lost memories that can never be made up and sadly the damage will be passed on through generations. I remain patient, but many years have passed and there are no signs of improvement any time soon. I no longer trust having my adult toxic children around me making decisions on my behalf in my end days. Thank you for sharing this important information, it is important that we know the truth and not just some psycho babble taught that tells us we have been bad people that should be removed and eradicated from our families lives.

  26. Patrice

    I too had a toxic Mother, I was one of her children she couldn’t love. The only thing we can do is to become empowered and help ourselves. What helped me was practicing Vipassana, you need to google this to find a center that teaches you this. Vipassana is a meditation whereby you sit for one hour ‘without moving’ whereby all the physical pain shows up in your body, the only thing you must focus on is your breath; the art of this is detachment from the physical pain is by only focusing on your breath which is the most subtle part of your being, by focusing on your breath you would be amazed how detached you can become of physical and emotional pain. I am a Psychotherapist hence I recommend this to my to my Patients. It is ‘imperative’ that you don’t begin this practice until you go to learn this ‘art’ under supervision; if you are willing to do Vipassana once a day you will be amazed how empowered you will become. I strongly need to say again that it is a MUST that you learn under supervision before attempting this process.

  27. Karl

    I stopped here by accident but something clicked a little.
    I am about 70 and have been through lots of stuff good and bad and you have to try best you can with whatever you have at the time I guess. I have a good son who is 26 and is scared, overweight, and can get VERY emotional and angry because I think he’s scared an yes life is scary a lot. Want him to go to school do well etc. etc. but he blew it on others, drugs, became a drug dealer which cost me a lot to get him out, and wants to stay at home playing on the computer.
    I grew up in the 50’s, been al over the world, had toxic parents who shouldn’t have had kids but we had some nice moments. Father had me arrested for “Stubborn Child” tossed in jail to get rid of me as a child.(that “law” is gone now)
    All kinds of people and a lot of folks had horrible experiences which is no accident or their fault as the world is run by psychopaths and criminally minded idiots mostly.
    So, you have do do the best you can under the circumstances. I love animals, plants, my small garden and the watching seeds grow into flowers. I love music and was a musician when younger, worked at every awful job until finally getting enough skilled education to make decent money and retire. I tried to save people all over in various ghettoes in America and have seen so much death, suicide, murder, corruption, I developed a black sense of humor I guess to handle it all. I think there is something connecting us all sometimes and there is some justice at times and lucky miracles too like when I made it to the top of a cliff with no rope when I though I would surely die. Loved motorcycles and didn’t get killed-lucky? I did take advantage of every little opportunity that came my way and worked myself off the mean streets and did meet a few good folks that actually helped me a little too.
    I just try and be a good person to folks that are nice and have a big heart for suffering folks as I really suffered a lot in the past. I know like alcoholics at AA meetings they relate better to folks that have experienced the same thing and maybe these so-called-“toxic kids” might be able to help each other some and find friends in meetings? Hard as they tend to be loners hiding at home etc. but my son is doing OK and did get an associate degree and has had jobs and isn’t really a bad person but he is overly sensitive. I am too sometimes so it’s probably genetic. Did better than most I know without being a crook anyway. I’d give anyone the shirt off my back but have been burned a lot too which makes me more cautious now. American system tends to reward the psychopaths not the good folks but I hope it’s changing more toward a more truly caring nation???(and not just for money) I have to admit that for me most counseling and psychology is BS by folks trying to make money off it like Dr. Phil or push pills etc. and I actually worked for the corporation that prints up that dumb book on all so-called “psychiatric disorders” used by all of them!(tied to drug companies and the banks that own them.) Labels are mostly academic BS but compassion and love are real! There ARE good people! I believe most folks are good but many have had terrible experiences. I also have met a very few who are actually born with pure evil or whatever in their nature no amount of kindness or love will help in any way. Those you have to keep away from and away from others. Known many in the criminal world and most aren’t bad folks but a few actually are! Trust your inner gut feeling is my best advise in life with people. Meyer Lanskey said:”America is just about money” and he was right!(mostly) but it’s more than that too it’s what you feel about yourself and doing good things pays back more than money.
    What do I know? I’m old and seen most everything and it is what it is. Love to everyone anyway and if I could I would take all your pain away, make this a heaven on earth, peace, with joy etc. but I can’t I guess but I really wish I could for real!!! I just tried to protect my son from some of the worst avenues in life young people can fall into. I guess or I tried.

  28. Shelia patton

    I believe I was born to endure pain.I am 50 and live alone raising my 9 year old grandson because his mother my daughter is serving a 15 year sentence for murder because she shot her abusive boyfriend in the head when he was rapping her from behind.As a child she would always try and protect me when I was being beaten and abused. I suffered from domestic abuse for 19 years until he died from a drug overdose. He and I had a daughter together and was taught from birth to be very mean and abusive to me by her father and they both would share in the abuse and laugh at me when I would cry from it.Have a son also that is an adult but does not talk to me because of the abuse I went through and not leaving the man. My oldest daughter th one in prison and my son have the same dad hat went to prison for robbing a bank when they were only one and two so I married my second husband that abuse me for 19 years. Our daughter is now 23 and suffering from the same drug addiction that her father died from.I have no contact from my own mother and father or brother and sister because the abuse we suffered as a child by both our parents mostly from my father who suffered from PTSD for serving in that army. I believe I was born to suffer because that’s the only feeling that I know my children have suffered from my poor decisions that I made so I totally take alk the pain I am going through and believe I deserve for hurting my children by lack of parenting skills.I don’t know how to be in a relationship anymore because of the abuse and enjoy being alone to a point but do vet lonely I suffered from PTSD as well as anxiety to where I can’t leave my home I would love to save my youngest daughter from her drug addiction but she is still to this day very abusive to me but I have tried all her live to prove to her I was good enough because she still thinks I am mentally unable to take care of her so I tried so hard after his death to prove to her I was but she just want love me and it really hurts but for all the suffering my children had to go through because of me I deserve it all

  29. T.Scull

    I say put them at arms’ length and do not let the spoiled assholes ruin what’s left of your life. And if it’s an adult male that gets threatening or physical- kick his ass up between his shoulder blades- period and end of story!

  30. Lissa

    Hello everyone, I am sad and hopeful going through all of the replies. I can relate to almost everything being said. I struggle every day to figure out how to handle things the best way possible and for the record, I get it wrong every time.

  31. Jen70

    Hi everyone, one of my adult daughters is hard to get alone with. I chose to move out to the countryside and home school. I studied nutrition, herbal medicine and listening to my children. It really bothered ‘some’ adults, and by some I mean quite a lot. I taught the children to wait when people were speaking, for a gap and acknowledgment. Adults I then knew would ignore that and railroad on as if children should only seen & ignored. My second daughter has always been a handful. She’s ‘nice’ to me when she needs anything. Then the usual, drop me first when anything else comes along ! I had four children and they had each there times, for reading ect, I gave all of my time to the children to try my best at doing it right… but here I am, wondering why I’m still no one of any importance ! She now has a child of two, this is why I’m concerned.

  32. OMO

    This list describes my only child bully child. It’s exhausting to be around my child.
    A seemingly good visit always turns ugly – they blow up and verbally or physically attack you. Sometimes they’re nice in public and only attack you in private.
    I found this info on another site.

    They won’t let you see your grandchildren unless you give them what they want. They want to control you.

    They trigger your guilt for every little parenting mistake. You keep trying to prove that your intent and behavior was caring, but you can’t prove it to them. They always twist everything.
    You’ve tried to do everything they want. You’ve accepted all the blame. You’ve given them all you have.
    No matter what you do, you’re wrong. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  33. TipAlert

    My messed up alien children I can accept, love and forgive. Why? Because the way they became who they are isn’t their fault. Nor was much of it mine. Yes, we all make mistakes. If we learn instead of blaming others for them, pick ourselves up and grow on, our mistakes won’t turn us into failures. The hardest part is is how my kids have rejected me after raising them up to be capable and caring adults to respect themselves and others. And then life happened. Why are my kids so messed up? I know why. So do they. They are also ashamed to admit it and too proud to do anything about it. Should they care? Should I? Did anyone ever say it was going to be fair? My grief these days comes in having to decide how or even if to include anything for them in my will when countless others suffer innocently that I could feel better about leaving to them in care instead of to my children in fear. If you know any adult kids like mine please try to help them to understand how wrong things can go if they choose to let things stay they way they are.

  34. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    I am not sure if my replies are going up in the right order. As for your son who keeps messing with your electronics and such, See if you can find a way to lock him out. However, since he seems to be proficient at getting into whatever he wants, this could mean taking other measures. Get a basic lockbox for small things you want to keep from him. Use an old-fashioned combination lock when you’re not around. Hey, it’s worth a shot.

  35. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    Offhand, I can refer you to a youtube that I respect. Check out, Dr. Todd Grande. He deals with all sorts of issues from mental disorders to personality disorders. If I run across anything else, I will let you know. Most of my references are scientific studies online.

  36. Jane

    Thank you for this article. It has helped me tremendously. Your encouragement and kindness has given me strength and hope, to deal with my own toxic young adult -child.

  37. Joan

    Some of us want to protect our futures from abusive family members. Sorry if that bothers you so much. <3

  38. LJS

    It must be sweet to be able to refer to your children or step children as adults. Not me, as mine are total takers and know how to mooch off their Dad with love you. Their actions however, do not show it. It’s all about me. Guess you truly reap what you sew!

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