Your adult child might need some help becoming independent.

How to Get an Adult Child to Be More Independent

by Eliza Martinez

You've put in 18 years of work raising your child to adulthood. If you feel like you're done, but your adult child is still hanging on, it might be time to give him a nudge so he's more independent. That doesn't mean you have to separate completely, but teaching him life skills can help him when he's out on his own, getting a job and raising a family.


If you're still paying your child's rent, college tuition and showing up regularly with groceries, slowly weaning her off your checkbook can give her the independence she needs to take over her own finances. Sit down with your adult child and go over her expenses and income. Agree on where she's going to take the reins, even if you still kick in a bit. If your adult child lives with you, consider asking her to pitch in on the house payment, the utilities and the food bill. This way, you can still help her out, but are also able to contribute to your own retirement and keep your own finances in order, says financial expert Suze Orman.

Raise Your Expectations

You might still see the little boy who needed you for everything for the last 18 years, but the truth is that he's fully capable of taking care of himself, even if he still lives at home with you, say Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner on the Empowering Parents website. If you don't expect your teen to take charge, chances are he'll continue letting you do everything for him. Give your child an increasing sense of independence by asking him to do his own laundry, cook a meal every week, clean up after himself and pitch in with house and yard work.

Set Boundaries

It might feel reminiscent of decades past, but if you have an adult child, set boundaries to help her foster a sense of independence. If you let your child walk all over you or you bow to her every whim, it's difficult to get her to function on her own. If your adult child still lives at home, require her to ask permission before going into your bedroom or bathroom, taking money from your wallet or eating all the food in the house. This is often enough to get her to take the initiative to take care of things without having to consult with your first. If your adult teen lives on her own, ask that she call before dropping by and keep her from just showing up for dinner.

Offer Support

Just because you're attempting to create some independence in your adult child doesn't mean you have to completely abandon him. Continuing to offer your love and support as he looks for work, organizes his budget, finishes college or even learns to cook or use the washing machine goes a long way toward helping him take satisfaction from his own independence. Your adult child still needs your attention, approval and interest in his life, notes Carl Pickhardt on Psychology Today. Offering these things makes it simpler to transition your adult child in caring for himself.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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