Breaking the ‘I Don’t Want to Grow Up’ Cycle: A Guide for Parents of Young Adults

adult children struggle

Parents, if you find yourself in the challenging situation of a young adult telling you they don’t want to grow up, you’re not alone. The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be a perplexing time for both parents and young adults. Let’s explore how the perception of adulthood might have been shaped and discuss actionable steps for parents to guide their young adults towards a more positive outlook on growing up.

Question…is it possible that you made adulthood look difficult and not very much fun?

The way we have, and are currently dealing with, our own adulthood can significantly influence our kids’ perceptions of what they can expect from life as an adult. Reflect on your own approach to work, the daily grind, and the responsibilities of adult life. Did you inadvertently paint a picture of adulthood as a daunting and joyless experience?

Consider whether you shared the struggles of long work hours, complained about the commute, or expressed frustration about the cost of living. These reflections are not about dwelling on past actions but about understanding how your experiences may have shaped your young adult’s view of adulthood.

You can’t go back. You can only move forward from here.

Acknowledging past influences is the first step, but dwelling on them is counterproductive. You cannot change the past. However, you have the power to shape the future. Moving forward involves fostering a positive narrative about adulthood—one that emphasizes growth, learning, and the fulfillment of meaningful goals.

This is an opportunity for parents to bridge the communication gap and understand the specific concerns and fears that may be fueling their young adult’s reluctance to take responsibility for their lives and futures.

One suggestion I have for you…You and I both know sometimes we say things to our kids and they won’t listen to us, but they may listen to someone else that they trust and someone who’s just maybe 10 or 15 years ahead of them down that adulting path.

It’s essential to recognize that sometimes, the messenger matters. Your young adult may be more receptive to insights from someone slightly removed from the immediate family context. Consider reaching out to a trusted family friend or an older cousin who has successfully navigated the challenges of adulthood. Their experiences and advice can offer a fresh perspective and resonate more deeply with your young adult.

Initiating positive conversations about adulthood is crucial. Arrange a casual meeting or gathering where your young adult can engage in open discussions with the trusted individual. Encourage them to share their experiences, challenges, and the fulfilling aspects of adult life. Sometimes, hearing from someone relatable can be a game-changer in shifting perspectives. Essentially I’m suggesting you find your young adult a mentor.


Next, acknowledge your young adult’s strengths, accomplishments, and potential for growth. Do this while fostering an environment where your young adult feels comfortable expressing their concerns and fears about adulthood.

In addition, lead by example by demonstrating a positive and proactive approach to the challenges of adult life and help your young adult identify and pursue meaningful goals that align with their passions and interests.

Summary Points:

Navigating the “I don’t want to grow up” sentiment requires a delicate balance of understanding past influences, initiating positive conversations, and providing external perspectives. As parents, you have the ability to shape a narrative that emphasizes the richness of adult life—the opportunities for growth, learning, and fulfilling aspirations.

Remember, it’s not about denying challenges but about instilling a belief in the transformative power of navigating those challenges. With open communication, positive reinforcement, and exposure to external perspectives, you can guide your young adult towards a more optimistic and informed view of adulthood.