Establishing Healthy Boundaries with Adult Children


Here at Focus on the Family, we regularly hear from parents with adult children whose lives have hit a snag because of irresponsibility or for reasons beyond their control – they don’t get accepted into college or there’s a slump in the job market. Tragically, some families endure even more serious issues. The young adult becomes a prodigal, suffers from an addiction, or chooses a lifestyle that’s contrary to the way he or she was raised.

According to Psychology Today:

  • In 2016, 15 percent of 25- to 35-year-old Millennials were living in their parents’ homes; a higher rate than Generation Xers in 2000 (Pew Research Center).
  • Between 2005-2010, more than 20 percent of 25-year-old high school graduates (who never attended college) were not employed or in the military. For those with some college, unemployment rates were only 16 percent.
  • Of the 88 percent of young men and 92 percent of young women who move out of their parents’ homes, over half move back in before age 27.

Our guest on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Establishing Healthy Boundaries with Adult Children” is Allison Bottke, who has first-hand experience in this area. Raised by a single mom and brutally beaten and molested by a foster parent when she was toddler, Allison was an emotional mess by age 15 when she ran away from home to marry her “prince charming” – who also turned out to be violently abusive. Her son Christopher was born into Allison’s nightmare fight for survival when she was just 16 years-old.

Allison has some great parenting wisdom to share about how to love your adult children well, even when it’s hard. She explains her “six steps to sanity” for parents of dysfunctional adult children:

S – STOP your own negative behavior – especially the flow of money.

A – ASSEMBLE a support group.

N – NIP excuses in the bud.

I – IMPLEMENT rules and boundaries.

T – TRUST your instincts.

Y – YIELD everything to God.

Our program offers hope and practical help to parents who are struggling with their adult children. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your specific situation, we have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be their privilege to offer you a free consultation. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

Allison Bottke’s book Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents is available through our ministry for a gift of any amount. Visit our website for more information.



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