Am I Responsible For The Actions Of My Adult Children?

Am I Responsible For The Actions Of My Adult ChildrenMy first response is no, wait yes, no, wait… My first response is complete confusion. Am I?

If my children turn into responsible, caring and terrific adults, yes, I take credit for that. I can!

Two sides.

If I can take the credit for raising the wonderful adult, I’m also on the hook if I raise a piece of shit who kills four people. Yes, I can take the blame for that. I can.

Yes, if my kid is so heinous to commit an act like this, I f*cking went wrong somewhere.

What do you think?

PS a microscopic percentage will turn into horrible people regardless of their upbringing. 


60 thoughts on “Am I Responsible For The Actions Of My Adult Children?

  1. This is a subject very close to my heart given my messy family at the moment. I think the ultimate answer is no, you are not responsible for the way your child turns out, or at least not 100% responsible. A child has so many factors that influence how they develop. Genetics are at least some way responsible for our personalities, the area you in, schools, peers, siblings, and yes obviously parents. You can pour your heart and soul into making your influence the best it can be, but you cant control the other influences and therefore should never feel totally responsible for how your child turns out, good or bad.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. That is a tough one, I remember several years back two wealthy brothers were convicted of murder, they were not spoiled but had the means to be spoiled in every way. On the other spectrum, the lower class and poor environment can go either way.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve known hundreds of young men and women after a 20 year military career and I’ve come to know that there are certain truths about them. One of those truths are there some just plain rotten kids in this world. It doesn’t matter what you’ve did or didn’t do and what you should have done or could have done. So I can emphasize with a parent feeling the way that they do but it’s not gonna change anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is what I think.

    The age of adulthood is legally 18. Once we’re adults, what we do is our responsibility. I’ve had friends who were in Alcoholics anonymous. The first thing AA does is to make you face the fact, to take responsibility for the problem.

    I’m well aware of children who were abused and then became the abusers. I personally know people who had terrible childhoods and chose to help others instead of perpetuating the problem.

    When my children were in their teen years, I was wild. Now, every chance I get I tell them, “You raised yourself well.” I took responsibility for my deficits during my mid-life crisis. They deserve credit for learning from their mother’s mistakes and not making the same ones.

    Yes, once we’re adults, what we do is our responsibility. And the first order of business is to admit it.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. As a non parent, but one who has picked up many pieces (of kids via foster) I have seen the influence of shit parents.
    And of good. I have seen that with structure and consequences and LOVE I could do some repair. Not easy and you are not always the good guy.
    I have spoke of the entitled little bastards some have raised…and yes if you want to give them everything and defend their every fuck up…along the way, well yeah their sense of entitlement came from somewhere.
    Some get every opportunity and suck ween…some get nothing and rise above.
    In the end one has to HONESTLY ask oneself…Did I do right? If they can answer that truly yes, then wash your hands of the little prick or prickess if they insist on being a piece of shit.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My children, as adults are responsible for their actions. They are not responsible for their genetic coding, though.

    I believe this is one of the greatest questions ever posed to man.

    Can we fully comprehend it? Not fully, we have no way of knowing what turns on and off the sequence. Some scientists believe we can ‘conform’ people if given the ‘correct’ environment. I disagree. I do believe we can love and forgive them for anything if we love unconditionally.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I don’t think that you can be responsible for adult children. Fair enough we bring them up as best as we can, but once they become an adult and make their own choices then it is down to them… since most of us don’t consider our parents when we are carving out our path in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel like we, as parents, are no longer responsible after adulthood. For instance, my parents raised me and my siblings with morals and values…yet I have a brother who is a drug addict and stole money from family. This isn’t the fault of my larents, but the result of his poor choices. As parents, we do our best. If it turns out, Yay for us. If it doesnt, we did our best…but in the end, a person chooses for themselves how they will behave.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. You can raise your children with the best of intentions, morals, values, and love them to the moon and back. They, after 18, make their own choices. Having two adult sons I see the differences in their choices and my oldest has made many that I don’t personally agree with. My middle son, he embodies what I tried to instill. My older son and I tried talking, however in the end all that did was stress ME out. I had to learn to let go. I gave him a very nice upbringing. His choices are now his alone. Does it hurt sometimes? Sure it does. But if you don’t let them fall, they can never get up on their own again either.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think they are a mirror to how you raise them but within limits – both my parents are neat freaks but I’m as untidy as it gets. So clearly that is nature winning over nurture!

    If someone is going to be a serial killer I think they probably will be regardless of how they are raised. Unless of course they are raised by serial killers in which case the odds are greatly increased!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think it is complex. It takes two, usually, to create a child and most of the time that child has a father and mother or two mothers or two fathers or a step parent, or …

    And all of those significant others, parents and guardians, have influence on who that child becomes.

    But even then, genetics plays a part and the environment or environments where the child influences who that child becomes as an adult.

    Divorce, if there is one, during the child’s life up to at least the age of 18, also plays a factor.

    For instance, my 1st wife and I divorced when our son was age three (he’s 39 today). She kept custody and I was allowed to see him every other weekend. I lived in one community and she lived in another. Eventually, my son had a stepmother through me and stepfather through his mother.

    That’s a lot of factors to divide up who is responsible for how the child turns out.

    In fact, if we look at a child’s education, it has been determined by many significant studies going back for decades that that schools are responsible for about 30% of what a child learns and how well that child does in school and the child’s environment outside of school is responsible for about 70% of what that child learns.

    When we focus just on school, the average child probably has about 40 teachers K – 12, and if we divide up that 30% among those 40 teachers that means each teacher was responsible for less than 1% of who that child turned out to be.

    Then there are the child’s peers, his friends, and how they influence the child’s behavior later in life. Those other children are responsible for some of the 70% outside of school and some of the 30% in school. Imagine the impact a bully has on who a child is later in life or a best friend.

    Then there is TV and it’s influence. Studies show the average child in the U.S. watches about 3 hours of TV daily. What impact does watching all that sex, advertisements and violence have on a child by the time they are an adult. Add to that music. What if a child grows up loving heavy metal or rap? Then there are video games that are almost always violent in some way.

    When we write the unique, individual formula for one child on the influences that have an important impact on who that child becomes as an adult, I think the impact even a single parent has on who that child becomes shrinks dramatically to probably a single digit—less than 10%, but more than many of the other factors in that logarithm. And even 9% percent is more than nine X the influence of one of those teachers and probably more than one of the child’s friends.

    The ratio that belongs to one of the child’s parents probably depends on how much significant time the parent spent with the child up to the age of 18.

    For instance, I have ead that the average parent in the U.S. speaks to their child less than 3 minutes a day. What happens if a parent spends 30 minutes or an hour a day of quality time with their child instead of turning that child over to the TV as a babysitter?


  13. This is a tough one. I’d say yes, you are but not entirely. Is that even an answer? Some pretty rotten people have come out of loving homes and I’ve known lovely people to overcome a wretched childhood. Again, this is tough. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good question. I don’t think there’s a simple answer. As someone whose children are becoming adults I hope they turn out well, but at some point if we parented with good values and the best of intentions, I think our being on the hook for their behavior ends. As a former therapist I’ve seen too many older adolescents or young adults make bad decisions when they are no longer under their parents roof. Maybe that’s when our guilt should end, when they leave our homes and behave as independent adults.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As a soon to be parent, I don’t have anything to offer from my own children but I think it’s a mixed bag. i’ll give two examples.

    My step kids, now young adults, are both wonderful young men. They, like their parents, are both wonderful and kind people. Also, like their parents, they are terrible at budgeting (I’m not insulting their mom or my husband here–they be the first to would agree!).

    I can see that the dozens of wonderful qualities, and the few negative behaviors that they have, are directly learned from their mom and dad. Interestingly enough, my younger stepson has even taken on a few of my behaviors (both good and bad). My older stepson was 18 and moved away to college shortly after I moved in, so I didn’t get much time to influence him 🙂

    On another side of the coin, about ten years ago I worked in a “tough” school and had an educational assistant who worked in the next door classroom (I am a first grade teacher). She was a fantastic, no nonsense, well-respected woman. Her youngest daughter was in my class and I knew all of her kids, including her oldest son who had just graduated, and at the beginning of the year picked up his sister on occasion.

    Over the course of the year the oldest got involved in some pretty bad stuff, and eventually assaulted his mother at the bus stop outside of our school when she threatened to report him to the police if he didn’t smarten up. From their, every day her daughter would break down at recess and tell me all about what was going on at home; threatening phone calls, demands for money, her brother breaking down the door and telling her to go upstairs so she wouldn’t have to witness what was about to happen. I was only at the school for one year so I don’t know how they story ended, but my guess is not well. He was the only child in the family who displayed any violent or disturbing behavior, and I really don’t think his parents were at fault.

    Sometimes you are your child’s biggest influence, sometimes it’s their peers, their neighborhood, or other outside factors.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My children are 26, 22, and 18. My 26 year old daughter was married (for the wrong reasons), divorced, has 3 children, has a minimum wage job (despite having a license in massage therapy), and makes one stupid mistake after another (too many to list). My 22 year old son has been at the same job for over a year, but is a “functioning alcoholic”. My 19 year old daughter graduated from high school early, and is working close to 40 hours a week. She still lives at home, but she is very ambitious, and doesn’t want to end up like her brother & sister. I didn’t raise one any different than the other two, so why is it that my youngest seems to be the only one with her head screwed on straight? I feel like I’ve failed the two oldest, somehow…

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I don’t think you failed your eldest, they made their choices (probably didn’t ask you for advice either). And I do think that by the time you got to your third child, you evolved. You may not have realized it, but with the 8 years difference between your eldest and your youngest, you would have learned tons of things. Thank goodness your youngest is there to remind the oldest 😀

      Thanks for reading 🙂


  17. This is tough. I had a lot of crazy (like literal freak show) in my childhood, my mom was poor and sick and did the best she could on her own with 3 girls. We all turned out to be awesome (if I do say so myself) women. Granted we all had rebellious phases in our teen years. Now my husband has 3 children from a previous marriage. We had joint custody of them until they were old enough to decide where they wanted to live. They of course chose their mother because we were too strict, had too many rules, made them responsible for their actions and so on. After a few years of living full time with their mother it resulted in 2 teen pregnancies, a high school drop out and 1 that hasn’t passed school in 2 years. I mean the oldest needed a sitter for her baby, why wouldn’t the youngest skip school to babysit?! (Can you see my words dripping in sarcasm?) To this day they are entitled, irresponsible, selfish little souls who have already begun to pass this down to their children. Endless cycle. I 100% agree my husband is also responsible for this as he never stepped up and stopped the crazy that was running rampant. We have an almost 5 year old together who is kind, empathetic (as much as a 4 year old can be), social and so freaking responsible for her age. She loves her rules and structure. I question daily whether I’m doing a good job with her, but the proof is in the pudding when I see her first hand or hear second hand about the incredible she responds to certain situations and by her behavior and her love and compassion for others. I never saw my step children display this type of behavior at their ages of 6, 10 and 12 when I started to be in their lives. Granted, divorce and parents who do not get along can also be a part of this.
    So long story short, apart from the small percentage that then out effed up for no reason, I do think that you can look at yourself at the end of the day and say shit. I went wrong somewhere. But as someone had commented previously (I’m at least a year late to this party) there are so many other factors that influence kids, especially this day and age and how do you know if it was you or Joe schmow that effed your kids up?! As a mother I think our first instinct is to always blame ourselves, even for things out of our control. So as much as I say, yeah, maybe you should look at yourself, I’m also totally on the fence about this one. Rambling much?

    Liked by 1 person

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