How to Handle Disrespectful Boomerang Kids

by Katrina Miller

A disrespectful boomerang child can create family stress that jeopardizes the whole family's health and pushes you, the parent, to the point of misery. An article in the "Michigan Family Review" identifies some characteristics of disrespectful adult children: they discount your feelings and preferences; they do not resolve disagreements with you; they do not examine their own actions; they do not share information; and they do not show you esteem. If you are living with a disrespectful boomerang kid, you need to communicate about boundaries.

Negotiate the house rules, including agreements about rent, groceries and household tasks, before your child moves in. Put the agreement in writing and clarify how you will handle a breach of contract.

Discuss expected roles and boundaries. If grandchildren are coming with your adult children, you may be caught between conflicting expectations: letting your child be the parent and meeting your child's desire for you to be his parent. You may be expected to babysit. Communicate with your child about what you are and are not willing to do.

Confront your adult child about disrespectful behavior. Use empathy to frame the confrontation. If you understand why your adult child behaves as she does, let her know. Give your adult child feedback about behaviors that do not work for you and how you will respond to those behaviors in the future.

Pick the right time to confront your boomerang child. Don't do it in the middle of an argument. Identify a time when a discussion about appropriate behavior is most likely to produce the change you want.

Show respect for your boomerang child. Keep harshness out of your voice and listen respectfully even if you do not agree with what he is saying. Do not exchange insults. If your adult child says, "I hate you," respond with "I love you." Make it clear that if your kid wants your continued help, he must follow the house rules.


  • If you child becomes physically violent toward you or destructive of your property, you need to hold your child accountable. Contact the local authorities.

About the Author

Katrina Miller is a medical writer specializing in behavioral health. She has been published in "Family Perspectives" and the "Salt Lake Tribune." She has a doctoral degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State University.

Photo Credits

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