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15 Things You Should Never Say to Your Adult Children

Saying these things may fracture your relationships. 

Parent-child relationships can be complex and complicated, and it's easy to forget your adult children aren't, well, children anymore. "Supporting a struggling adult child requires not only empathy but also effective communication that fosters trust and understanding," Jeffrey Bernstein PhD, tells Psychology Today. "Words hold immense power, shaping the dynamics of relationships and influencing individuals' self-perception. Therefore, it's essential to choose language that uplifts rather than demoralizes, especially during challenging times." Here are 15 things you should never say to your adult children.

When Will You Give Me Grandkids?

Little boys are just superheroes in disguise. Grandmother looking at baby boy with smile. Proud grandmother playing with grandson. Woman with baby grandson

Constantly asking about grandchildren puts a lot of pressure on adult children. Having kids is an immense responsibility and no one should be rushed into it. Keep in mind there are lots of reasons why there are no kids yet—for example, fertility issues, or finances.

When Are You Going To Settle Down?


Don't put pressure on your adult children to be in relationships if they aren't ready. They might already be feeling bad about it, and nagging them about settling down might just make them feel worse and less likely to confide in you. 

I Told You So!

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They didn't like it when they were kids, and it's no less damaging now. Making mistakes and learning through experience is an important part of growing up and becoming an independent, thriving individual. While it's one thing to think it, it's quite another to say it out loud.

You Turned Out Fine

friendship, childhood, leisure and people concept - two happy kids or friends hanging upside down on tree and having fun in summer park

If your adult children are choosing to raise their children differently than you raised them, do not take it personally. Do not say "well we did such-and-such with you, and you turned out fine!" Parenting norms change from generation to generation, and child rearing is an intensely personal issue. 

Why Can't You Be More Like…

Hispanic mature woman standing over white background relaxed with serious expression on face. simple and natural looking at the camera.

Comparing your adult child to their friends or siblings can chip away at their confidence and self-esteem. It may be something you've said since they were children, and could still be a sore spot. Telling them to be like someone else is essentially telling them they aren't good enough as they are. This is especially damaging if you're constantly comparing them to a sibling.

Don't Be So Sensitive

Craft envelope with handwritten message on copy space background - Don't Be So Sensitive, a gaslighting message to accuse or emotional abuse others to question their beliefs or doubt their perceptions

If your adult child tells you you said or did something to hurt their feelings, don't tell them not to be sensitive. It takes courage to open up and be vulnerable. If you want your adult children to always be able to confide in you, you have to learn to take criticism at times.

I Sacrificed So Much For You

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All parents sacrifice for their children—that's what being a parent is. It means putting your children first. Don't tell your children, in a negative way, that the sacrifice wasn't worth it.

Wait Till You Have Kids of Your Own


Telling adult children to wait till they have kids of their own before they understand your point of view discounts their feelings. They don't need their own children to legitimize what their feelings or opinions are.

Why Don't You Call More?

Attarctive retired female gesticulating with anxiety talking on phone, having worried face, using smartphone for conversation wih bank, trying to solve problem with savings account

Making people feel guilty is not the way to nurture a strong relationship. If you want to talk to your adult children or see them more, make the effort. Pick up the phone, go and visit. Don't wait for them to make the first move. If your adult children are working or have young children, it's easy to forget to call or visit. Don't take it personally.

I Know What's Best For You

Handsome older man looking at the camera smiling.

Even if you think you know what's best for your adult children, they have a right to live their own lives and make their own decisions. They can't grow and develop into resilient characters if someone else is calling the shots. 

You're So Ungrateful

Pensive senior father ignoring his adult son after an argument in nature.

Don't throw the things you've done for your children in their face. Being a parent means doing things for your children, as they will hopefully do for theirs. While appreciation should always be shown, don't expect them to feel a certain way about an upbringing they had no control over.

You're Too Fat/Skinny

Obese Woman with fat upset about her belly. Overweight woman touching his fat belly and want to lose weight. Fat woman worried about weight diet lifestyle.

Comments about looks and weight are damaging no matter how old your adult child is. It's hurtful and can cause real harm—eating disorders and body dysmorphia can go on for years because of comments like that.

Are You Sure That's a Good Idea?

Middle age woman standing with doubt expression at street

Constantly asking this question may undermine your adult child's confidence in their own abilities. They are adults, and can make decisions for themselves. If they've already decided something is a good idea, leave it alone.

He/She Has Turned You Against Me

Portrait of a serious senior man in a studio, looking at camera.

Don't blame your adult child's significant other for any issues you may be having with each other. You're essentially telling your child they are weak and easily led, and also discounting how they feel. If they tell you they feel a certain way, don't blame someone else.

I Wish I'd Never Had Kids

Portrait of Sad Crying Woman being Harrased and Bullied by Her Partner. Couple Arguing and Fighting Violently. Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse. Rack Focus with Boyfriend Screaming in Background


This is one of the worst things you can say to a child of any age, whether a minor or adult. While it's easy to say things you don't mean in the heat of the moment, it's very hard to take it back afterwards. 

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more