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5 Detrimental Things Parents Should Not Say to Their Adult Children

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It’s very sad, but sometimes parents say things that really hurt us. Our parents are also sinful and depraved human beings, and in their frustration, anger, and selfishness, they can say things that hurt our hearts and our views of humanity. Many things can harm us, intentionally or not, even as adults. If you are a parent or would-be parent, it is important to know: no To tell.

1. “You are not good enough”

One of the hurtful words parents should never say to their adult children is, “You’re not good enough.” This simple statement can flood our minds with a myriad of negative emotions. This word shouldn’t be said to anyone, but it’s often said by parents to adult children. Maybe the parents didn’t graduate from college, or they were pregnant in high school, or they got into drugs. In the eyes of parents, children seem to make too many mistakes, inflict too many scars, and never grow up enough.

This is sad, but all too common. If your parents say you’re not good enough, know they’re wrong. You are good enough and dearly loved by the creator of the world. In fact, you have enough thanks to Jesus that your parents have no right to say such terrible things to you. Everyone is enough and everyone is loved by the Lord. Even if parents couldn’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

You are good enough as you are. Despite your past, you are enough thanks to Jesus. Many people try to drive us into a state of self-loathing by saying mean things to us, but we don’t have to listen to them. Often they speak out of unresolved hurt and bitterness. I know it hurts when your parents say mean things to you, but don’t let it affect how you see yourself. Even if our fathers and mothers forsake us, the Lord accepts us (Psalm 27:10).

If you are a parent and tell your child that you are not good enough, know that it can cause a permanent rift between you and your child. You need to apologize and look for ways to make your child understand that he is good enough. However, because you have hurt your child, he or she may not trust your feelings and will not listen to you. If this is the case, allow your child to mourn the hurt you caused and give them time to continue sharing the love you have for them.

We live in flawed bodies. So once trust is broken, it takes time, patience and grace to restore.

2. “I wish you were more like my sister/brother.”

The third harmful phrase parents should never say to their adult children is “I wish you were more like your sister/brother.” My mother never directly told me how she wished I was like her sisters, but the message was conveyed in another way. Statements such as “Why can’t you do as well as your sister?” or “Why can’t you pay attention like your sister?” has often happened in my life. I was always compared to my two older sisters, and I could never win.

Ever since this happened, I hate who I am. Deep in my heart, I felt that if I didn’t become more like my sisters, then my mother would like me. After all, I can’t be like my sister. Because each sister is their own person and I am my own person. I’m sorry my mother didn’t understand this, but her words that she wanted me to be more like my sisters caused self-loathing in my heart. Even as adults, these words can hurt us.

If you are asked to look more like your sister or brother, know that you are not alone. I dedicate my heart to you And I want you to know that you have a reason. There is no one like you on earth. God makes no mistakes, and he did not make any mistakes when he created you. He loves you, and there are many others who love you.

3. “Why aren’t you married yet?”

The third harmful phrase that parents should never say to their adult children is, “Why aren’t you married yet?” Another pernicious question of hers is, “So when will my grandchildren be born?” These can be hurtful remarks for a variety of reasons. Your child may not be ready for marriage, does not want to get married, wants to get married but has not found anyone yet, or has recently gone through a bad breakup. If your children are married but childless, consider financial, mental, emotional, and even biological obstacles that can hinder or slow this process. There can be myriad reasons why your adult child will not marry or start a family, so there is no need to comment on these. Instead of making comments like this, ask your child about the weekend, the upcoming vacation, or the book he or she is reading.

The very question “Why aren’t you married yet?” Insensitive and hurt. If your parents asked you that question and it hurt you deeply, know that you are not alone. You may have been hurt for any of the reasons listed above, or you may have felt hurt for another reason. Please know that your reasons are valid and your parents should never have asked you this question. Whether or not you want to get married, this is a hurtful question that may leave you wondering if your parents care about how you feel.

4. “It sucks! Maybe I should lose some weight.”

The fourth harmful word that parents should never say to their adult children is, “You look terrible!” Lose weight/gain/go out more/etc!” This is probably one of the worst things to say to your grown children. Because this means their looks are more important than other aspects of life. Whether your child is losing or gaining weight, don’t make imperative statements about how they look.

Instead, consider asking questions about how your child feels and behaves regarding work, relationships, and church. How we treat our bodies often reflects how our soul feels. As a parent, you need to understand your child, prioritize their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being over physical appearance, and treat them with the same respect they deserve. Would you like someone to comment if you gained weight? Did you lose too much weight? Or did it look like you haven’t slept in weeks? Most of us would say no. As the old saying goes, “Think before you speak,” especially when it comes to adult children.

5. “Sorry”

The fifth harmful word parents should never say to their adult children is “I regret you.” This is very harmful on many irreversible levels. Often this statement is made during discussions where people are saying things they really don’t mean. If you’re the parent of an adult child, remember to always watch your words, even when you’re angry, even if you have the right to be angry. Even careless words spoken in anger can do terrible damage to a child. Watch your words when you’re angry, and if you’re upset, take a moment to calm yourself down before starting a conversation about the same topic.

Children, adults and adolescents, do not want to hear about their parents regretting it. It’s almost like saying “I hate you.” It’s best to be careful with your words and avoid words that can hurt. If your parents say they regret you, rest in the knowledge that Heavenly Father loves you and has never regretted you. God wants to relate to you and surround you with His love. If you are the parent who told your child that you regretted it, understand that your child may not be willing to resume the relationship with you. Maybe they will leave you forever. Try starting the conversation again. However, you should know that your child may not want to talk to you anymore because of the hurt and pain they have.

Please respect their healing process. Love them through your prayers. Understand them from a healthy distance. By the grace of God, seek the chance of recovery. Our God is truly the God of giving us a second chance.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/evgenyatamanenko

Vivian Bricker Help those who love Jesus, study God’s Word, and walk with Christ. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Christian Missions with an emphasis on theological studies. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading and spending time outside. When she’s not writing, she’s off on another adventure.

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