Raising a child is one of life’s most challenging and rewarding experiences. As parents, we don’t intend to raise disrespectful children, however, no matter how much effort you have put into raising your son, they may end up becoming ill-mannered and discourteous; some may even become violent.
A child that grows up and becomes disrespectful can be a source of stress and frustration for parents. It is easy for parents at this point to resort to blaming their upbringing strategies or blaming each other.
When your grown son is disrespectful to you, you should communicate clear boundaries and consequences for disrespectful behavior and consistently follow through with those consequences. Encourage open and honest communication, and work together to find solutions. Remember also to model respectful behavior yourself. It’s also a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or counselor if the behavior continues.
It is easy to think, “Maybe I should have done things differently.” You wonder if you used too much discipline or not enough. Did you let them get away with everything? Or maybe you should have stopped their friendship with a certain person. This list could go on.
The most important thing is to realize that all is not lost, and there are effective strategies to navigate this difficult situation with confidence and grace, and that is what we focus on in this post.
What Are The Possible Reasons Behind a Grown Son Being Disrespectful?
Before diving in to discuss what you can do when your grown son disrespects you, think about where the problem comes from. Most behaviors have a “why” behind them, providing a starting point to correct this problem.
In an article published in Psychology.com, the author, Nir Eyal suggests that it’s critical to understand the root cause of a problem to deal with it effectively. He argues that without addressing the root cause of a problem, we’ll be stuck playing someone else’s game and remain the victim in the situation.
Below, we highlight the many reasons your grown son may be disrespectful so that you, as a parent, can have a starting point for dealing with this issue.
It’s important to remember that disrespectful behavior may have multiple contributing factors, and it is essential to have open, honest, and non-judgmental conversations with your son to understand the reasons behind his behavior. By understanding the reasons behind his behavior and working together to find solutions, it will be more likely that he will change his behavior.
- Lack of Proper Boundaries
- Stress or Emotional Turmoil
- Poor Role Models
- Substance Abuse
- Mental Health Issues
- Past Traumas
- Lack of Communication and Understanding
- Poor Self-esteem or Self-worth
- Lack of Guidance or Mentorship
- Lack of Discipline or Structure
- Difficulty Managing Emotions
- Difficulty With Change
- Social or Cultural Influences
The next section will discuss how to deal with these problems and others.
Again, it’s worth noting that disrespectful behavior can have multiple underlying causes, so it’s important to understand the specific reasons in your son’s case to address the behavior effectively.
What to Do When Your Grown Son Disrespects You
When dealing with a grown son who is being disrespectful, it is important to address the behavior calmly and assertively. First, try to understand the reasons behind the disrespectful behavior and address any underlying issues that may be causing it.
It is also important to consider the context in which the disrespectful behavior occurs. For example, addressing the behavior in that context may be necessary if it happens in a specific setting, such as at work or with a particular group. Additionally, involving other family members or trusted friends in the conversation may be helpful, as they may have valuable perspectives and insights.
It’s important to remember that every individual is unique and will have different reasons for displaying disrespectful behavior. It is important to take the time to understand the specific reasons behind your son’s behavior and work together to find solutions.
Steps You Can Take to Address Your Son’s Disrespectful Behavior
Above, we listed the root causes that could lead to your son’s disrespectful behavior. In this section, we look at how you can handle identified problems.
Lack of proper boundaries:
- Suppose a son has not been held accountable for disrespectful behavior in the past. In that case, they may not understand the importance of respecting authority figures and may continue to act out even after they become young adults.
- Start to set boundaries for your son early so they can appreciate and choose respectful behavior. If you didn’t do this early in their lives, you can still talk to them about their behavior and let them know your boundaries.
- Set clear boundaries and consequences for disrespectful behavior and consistently enforce them.
Stress or emotional turmoil:
- A son may be going through a difficult period in their life, such as a relationship breakup or financial stress. He may take out their frustration on others through disrespectful behavior. If your son has stress in their life that is affecting who they are, talk to them about getting professional help.
- Encourage your son to talk about his feelings and provide emotional support. Encourage him to seek professional help if needed.
Poor role models:
- Suppose your son has grown up observing disrespectful behavior in others, such as in their family, friends, or media. For instance, if you disrespect your son, they are more likely to this respect others as they may not have learned appropriate ways to express themselves. They may also think that being discourteous to others is OK.
- Have open and honest conversations with your son about the importance of respecting authority figures and providing positive role models for him to look up to.
- Substance abuse can alter an individual’s behavior and may lead to disrespect. If your adult son suddenly starts becoming unbearably rude, and you have ruled out all other reasons, consider substance abuse.
- It’s important to converse with your son and understand if substance use could be behind his behavior. Try to be non-judgmental to get to the root of the cause.
- Encourage your son to seek professional help for substance abuse and provide support throughout the process.
Mental health issues:
- Some mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD, can cause a person to act disrespectfully. They could act this way because they are frustrated with their own problems or feel that nobody gets them.
- Encourage your son to seek professional help for any mental health issues and provide support throughout the process.
- Past traumas can also affect a person’s behavior, causing them to act disrespectfully. In cases where past trauma affects your grown son’s behavior, they may need professional help.
- Encourage your son to seek professional help if he has past traumas, and provide support throughout the process.
Lack of communication and understanding:
- Sometimes, disrespectful behavior may stem from a lack of understanding of what is expected of him or a lack of open communication between him and his parents.
- Encourage open and honest communication and actively listen to your son’s perspective.
- Poor self-esteem or self-worth:
- A son who lacks confidence or self-esteem may act disrespectfully to assert themselves or feel a sense of power.
- Provide positive reinforcement and encourage your son to engage in activities that boost self-esteem.
Get more tips here on how to communicate better with your grown son.
Lack of guidance or mentorship:
- Your son may lack guidance or mentorship in life and act disrespectfully to seek attention or direction.
- Provide guidance and mentorship to your son, or connect him with positive role models who can provide guidance and mentorship.
- Lack of discipline or structure:
- A son may lack guidance or mentorship in life and act disrespectfully to seek attention or direction.
- Provide a consistent and structured environment for your son to grow up in.
Difficulty managing emotions:
- A son may have difficulty adjusting to change and may act out in disrespectful ways as a way to resist or protest the change.
- Encourage your son to express his emotions in healthy ways and provide guidance on managing emotions.
Difficulty with change:
- A son may have difficulty adjusting to change and may act out in disrespectful ways as a way to resist or protest the change.
- Encourage your son to talk about any concerns he may have about change and provide support and guidance as he adjusts to change.
Lack of positive role models:
- Provide positive role models and encourage your son to spend time with positive influences.
Social or cultural influences:
- Social or cultural influences can also play a role in disrespectful behavior. For example, if a son is exposed to and influenced by a peer group that values disrespectful behavior.
- Also, if you promote a culture that is OK to be disrespectful in your home, don’t be surprised when your son starts using that culture against you.
- Discuss the impact of social or cultural influences on behavior and encourage your son to think critically about the values of those around him.
Lack of self-awareness:
- Some people are unaware of their behavior and its effect on others. If you could bring them to understand their behavior, it could result in regret and shame and maybe even halt the behavior.
- Do not hide your son’s disrespect. It is not your shame. If he knows others are aware of his behavior, he will be more conscious of acting disrespectfully.
- Encourage your son to reflect on the impact of his behavior on others and provide feedback on his behavior.
Lack of empathy:
- Encourage your son to put himself in other people’s shoes and to consider the feelings of others.
- It may encourage disrespect if you or others are in a power struggle with your son.
- Encourage your son to avoid conflict, communicate his needs and feelings, and find compromise when conflicts arise.
Lack of personal accountability:
- Encourage your son to take responsibility for his actions and understand his behavior’s consequences.
Lack of consequences:
- Ensure that there are clear consequences for disrespectful behavior and consistently enforce them.
It’s important to remember that addressing these issues may take time and require the help of professionals such as a therapist, counselor, or family therapist. It’s also important to be patient, supportive, and open to change, as change may not happen overnight.
In any case, it is important to maintain a positive and supportive relationship with your son and to avoid becoming too confrontational or punitive. Discipline is necessary, but it should be done in a way that helps the child to understand the consequences of their actions and to learn how to make better choices in the future. Seek professional help when it is necessary or when you feel that it’s hard to manage the situation alone.
Learn how you can motivate your grown son here.
What if Your Grown Son’s Disrespect Becomes Violent?
No one ever wants to get to this point with their family, but violence can become a reality where there is disrespect. If your grown son’s disrespectful behavior is becoming violent, it’s important to take immediate action to protect yourself and others. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Seek professional help: Consulting with a therapist, counselor, or another mental health professional can help you and your son understand the underlying causes of the violent behavior and develop a plan to address it. A therapist or counselor can also provide support and guidance for both you and your son as you work through the issues. They can also help you figure out if there is an underlying mental health condition that may be contributing to the violent behavior.
- Contact the authorities: If you or someone else is in immediate danger, contact the police or other emergency services for assistance. They will be able to provide protection and help defuse the situation. They can also provide guidance on proceeding if legal action is necessary.
- Create a safety plan: Develop a safety plan that includes steps you can take to protect yourself and others from violent behavior. Identify safe places to go and people to contact for help in case of an emergency. This could include a neighbor, friend, or family member who lives nearby and can provide support or a nearby hotel or shelter where you can go to get away from the situation.
- Remove weapons from home: If firearms or other weapons are in the home, take steps to remove them or secure them to prevent them from being used in a violent incident. If your son is a danger to himself or others, keeping all weapons out of reach is important.
- Consider a restraining order: If your son’s violent behavior is directed at you or other family members, consider obtaining a restraining order to legally restrict your son’s contact with you and other family members. This can provide additional protection and can also be used as evidence in court if legal action is necessary.
- Encourage your son to get help: Encourage your son to seek professional help for violent behavior and provide support throughout the process. This can include finding a therapist or counselor to talk to and supporting him as he goes through treatment.
- Seek legal advice: Consult with a lawyer to understand your rights and options in case of any legal trouble. A lawyer can also advise on the legal implications of getting a restraining order or filing for legal separation.
It’s important to remember that violent behavior is never acceptable and that taking steps to protect yourself and others from harm is important. Seek professional help as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to contact the authorities if you or someone else is in danger. Be open to the idea of seeking legal help if it’s necessary to ensure your safety and security.
Why You Shouldn’t Give in to Your Adult Son’s Disrespectful Behavior?
Giving in to disrespectful behavior from a grown son can have several negative consequences. This should not be an option as it only serves to communicate to your son that he can continue his disrespect.
- First, it can reinforce the behavior and make it more likely to continue. When someone’s disrespectful behavior is tolerated or goes unchallenged, they may see it as acceptable and continue to behave that way.
- Second, it can harm the relationship between you and your son. Disrespectful behavior can create tension and distance in a relationship, and if it goes unaddressed, it can lead to feelings of resentment and anger on both sides.
- Third, it can undermine your own self-esteem and sense of self-worth. When someone disrespects you, it can make you feel devalued and unworthy. Allowing the behavior to continue can result in mental and emotional stress to you or others involved.
- Fourth, it can also set a bad example for other people in your life, such as your other children, friends, and family members. If you allow your son to behave disrespectfully towards you, others may think that this kind of behavior is acceptable, which can lead to similar issues in other relationships.
- Finally, it is your responsibility as a parent to address this behavior. You are the one who raised him and guided him in his life. If he continues to be disrespectful, it may indicate your parenting style and values.
Avoid giving in to disrespectful behavior from a grown son, as it can reinforce the behavior, harm the relationship, undermine self-esteem, set a bad example, and may indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
Is it too Late to Correct Your Grown Son?
It’s never too late to address issues of disrespect in a relationship, regardless of the age of the parties involved. However, your approach and methods may need to be adapted based on your son’s age and maturity level.
A grown son may be more likely to resist traditional forms of discipline or guidance that may have been effective when he was younger. However, this doesn’t mean that the issues of disrespect cannot be addressed.
Open communication, assertiveness, and setting boundaries can be effective ways to address disrespectful behavior from a grown son. It’s important to have a calm and honest conversation with your son about the behavior and its impact on the relationship. Clear and consistent consequences for disrespectful behavior should be established, and it’s important to stick to them.
It’s also important to understand that addressing disrespectful behavior may not be a quick or easy process. It may take time and effort to change patterns of behavior that have been established over many years. However, with patience, persistence, and the right approach, it is possible to address issues of disrespect and improve the relationship with your grown son.
In addition, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about changing his behavior but also understanding the reasons behind it, seeking professional help for him if necessary, that would be a good long-term solution.
What to do If Your Disrespectful Son Still Lives at Home
If your grown son lives at home and you cannot control his disrespectful behavior, there are a few steps you can take.
Establish clear rules and boundaries: It’s essential to have clear rules and boundaries in place for all household members, including your grown son. This includes things like respecting each other’s privacy and property, being courteous and polite, and following a set of house rules. Make sure your son understands these rules and the consequences of breaking them.
Communicate your expectations: Have an open and honest conversation with your son about your expectations for respectful behavior while living at home. Make sure he understands the impact of his behavior on the rest of the household and explain that disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.
Set consequences: Decide on appropriate consequences for disrespectful behavior and ensure your son is aware of them. These consequences should be consistent and fair, and they should be followed through consistently.
Seek professional help: If your son’s disrespectful behavior is severe or persistent, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can work with your son to address the underlying issues and help him develop the skills to improve his behavior.
Address the emotional and financial aspects: Living with a disrespectful adult child can be emotionally and financially taxing. It is important to address these aspects by setting realistic expectations and limits on what you can provide financially and emotionally.
Consider your options: If all of the above steps fail, you may need to consider other options, such as asking your son to move out or finding other living arrangements for yourself. This can be a difficult decision, and weighing the pros and cons and considering the impact on everyone involved is essential.
It’s important to remember that it may take time and patience to address disrespectful behavior from a grown son living at home. However, it is possible to improve the situation with clear rules and boundaries, open communication, and consistent consequences.
Resources to Help you Deal with a Disrespectful Grown Son
Below are several resources to help you deal with a disrespectful grown son:
It’s important to remember that addressing disrespectful behavior from a grown son is a process, and it may take time and patience. However, with the help of these resources, you can learn effective strategies for dealing with the situation and improving your relationship with your son.
Seek Family therapy: Some examples of family therapists include The Family Institute at Northwestern University and The Gottman Institute.
Individual therapy: Either you or your son may require individual therapy. In this case, there are some examples of individual therapists, including BetterHelp and Talkspace.
Parenting classes: Yes, we continue to parent adult children, and if you feel you need assistance, try parenting classes for parents of young adults. Look in your local area for parenting classes, or find an online solution. Also, talk to your pediatrician, as they may have resources for your problems with adult children who are still under their care. Some examples of parenting classes include Positive Parenting Solutions.
Support groups: Some parents do better with support groups where they can share their issues with other parents with similar problems. Some examples of support groups for parents dealing with disrespectful adult children include Parents of Adult Children (POAC) and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).
Books and online resources: Some examples of books dealing with disrespectful adult children include “Boundaries with Adult Children” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and “How to Parent Your Adult Child” by Dr. Susan Newman. Online resources include the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Institute of Mental Health.
Seek Professional help: If you can’t handle a situation, seek out those who can. In parenting adult children, many professionals are trained to help. These include counselors, psychologists, and social workers, who can provide guidance and support, and even the police in the event that your son becomes uncontrollable and dangerous to others.
You can look for local therapists or counselors in your area or use online directories such as Psychology Today or the American Psychological Association to find practitioners in your area.
It’s important to note that these are just examples and not an endorsement or recommendations of any specific resource. Researching and finding the right resource that suits your needs and your son’s specific situation is important.