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When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us: Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives Paperback – June 3, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

So your adored son is nearing 30--or past it already--and still living at home, unable to hold onto a McJob for longer than six months running, relying on you to feed him and make his car payments. Your beautiful, brainy daughter is anorexic, or addicted to drugs, or unwilling to leave the man who hits her. Increasing numbers of baby boomers are finding that their grown children have fallen far short of their expectations. These parents are confused, angry, guilt-ridden, and ashamed. Jane Adams’s When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us is for them. She reveals the kinds of disappointments that other parents are facing: kids who are unable or unwilling to support themselves, kids who are addicts or convicts, kids who’ve joined cults or seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. She stresses that these are real problems--but that they aren’t the parents’ problems. Adams reassures parents that they’ve done their jobs and that they don’t have to spend the rest of their lives picking up the pieces for their grown children, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. Continuing to prop up kids who’ve repeatedly fallen on their own teaches them nothing; it’s just a temporary fix. Beyond offering sympathy, reassurance, and wisdom, the book doesn’t lay out a plan for solving anyone’s problems, but reading it may help disappointed parents shuck some of their guilt and shame, gather the courage to take back their own lives, and let their grown children fend for themselves. --Jennifer Lindsay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jane Adams has spent over two decades researching and reporting on how Americans live, work, and love, and especially how they respond to social change. A frequent media commentator, she has appeared on every major radio and television program. The author of eight nonfiction books and three novels, she is a talented communicator, and an expert in managing personal, professional and family boundaries, dealing with grown children, coping with change, and balancing life and work.

A graduate of Smith College, Jane Adams holds a Ph.D. in social psychology and has studied at Seattle Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Washington, D.C. Psychoanalytic Foundation. She has been an award-winning journalist, a founding editor of the Seattle Weekly, and an adjunct professor at the University of Washington. She is the recipient of the Family Advocate of the Year award from “Changes,” an organization devoted to improving relationships between parents and adolescent children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074323281X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743232814
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reading this book was a great comfort to me. When moms at work pipe up about their kids great accomplishments its pretty hard to chime in that your kid is on probation for a felony for selling pot and on a tether for violating probabation and just lost his job because he falsified the time card at the pizza joint. Geez. We didn't want the world but give me a break! Jane takes the heat off and the guilt does ease a bit - this book has helped me love the prodigal son without paying his rent for him. Thanks Jane!
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By A Customer on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This was not a book I would have imagined myself having the guts or integrity to buy. It is not that I am in denial about my grown children but I am in denial about the energy I spend fretting over their adult lives. Buying this book at the recommendation of a friend was a leap - and one I am so pleased I had the gumption to do. Dr. Adams touches something here; I sense that a collective sigh is heaving its way from the huddled masses of parents like myself who cannot imagine how our grown kids have ended up with their current lives. We know there is a lot of this going around but perpective has proven uniquely hard to come by. I would have bet the mortgage I could not gain such piece of mind from a piece of non-fiction; I'd now be willing to bet most any so strung out mom or dad could not help but gain wonderfully cosmic hall passes through this painful corridor of regret, guilt and aging. Brava Jane Adams.
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Format: Hardcover
It felt as if Jane Adams was sitting at my kitchen table helping me work through my complicated feelings about my daughter and her beau. With her warm and practical wisdom, this author manages to provide generous comfort and sound advice at the same time.
If you feel guilty, or critical, or even just frustrated with your grown-up kids, you'll find this book reads like a tall glass of cold water on a really hot day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book doesn't cover ALL the bases (does any one book when it comes to human relationships?)but it does an excellent job.

What I found particularly helpful:

The statistics and research that indicate that MANY young adults have MORE problems than ever before, which made me realize that parents are not alone in their struggles. The author notes cultural and social pressures that can lead children from strong families down the wrong path (although she is clear that sometimes parents DO make mistakes and that the root cause of problems may be a combination of factors).

An emphasis on a broad look at the many forces that can cause problems, from peer pressure to societal changes.

A STRONG focus on living in the HERE and NOW, rather than obsessing about past mistakes.

Lots of real life examples, showing how parents dealt with truly difficult situations.

No "one answer fits all" solutions. Instead, the author's style is brisk and open, inviting the reader to think about the issue, rather than arrive at definite answers.

This is an easy read and I got through it in one day, although I think several sections deserve rereading. I intend to keep it on my bookshelf and turn to it again, for inspiration, advice and comfort.

I also intend to read other books on the subject, as I want to get different viewpoints and perspectives.
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By A Customer on June 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is great to read a book about us new "seniors." For once, a psychologist is addressing the worries of the PARENTS of troubled kids. This time, it's grown-up kids who disappoint, and Jane Adams does a great job of identifying how painful it is to be disappointed in our kids, and yet feel completely frustrated and unable to solve their problems. Her solution: Detach, detach. And what a simple yet wise solution that is. She even tells us how.
If your kids and their issues are keeping you up at night, read this book. You'll feel much better in the morning.
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Format: Hardcover
Every woman past the age of 40 needs this book for life support. In "When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us," Jane Adams not only exposes our nastiest little secret, which is that we care more about our grown childrens'lives than we should - for both their health and our own. The fact that we passionately love our children is only part of the story, as Dr. Adams points out. Another part is that our egos are so painfully involved that when asked about any one of our kids, we nearly always nudge the scenario by painting the rosiest possible picture.
But the truth is that lots of our children have lots of problems, and "When Our Grown Children Disappoint" covers what must be nearly every miserable one of them - from drug addiction to never-ending dependency, from sexual acting-out to dangerous irresponsibility, from physical illness to mental. One way or another, many of our kids are - as our parents would rightfully put it - "ruining their lives." Gently, and with great humor, Dr. Adams, helps us keep these tragedies from ruining our own lives. In the process, in this beautifully written book, this longtime author shows us how to "separate, thereby restoring helth and peace to suffering parents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book helped me understand and accept that my kids could swallow my life up whole UNINTENTIONALLY and really get in the way of me doing the things that I really want to do in my life.

I have always believed that it is in my kids best interest for me to raise them exactly the same way I was (at least in certain areas). So, I paid for their college education, gave them each a Visa, bought them cars, offered to pay for graduate schools, trips, insurance, etc.

What I inadvertently created, thinking I was acting in their best interest as those things were helpful to me at their age, were two kids - one with an alcohol problem and the other who's really dependent on others to do everything for him.

Don't get me wrong, they are great kids overall - these are just two aspects that have been challenging to handle.

In any event, when I discovered my son had an alcohol problem - I changed my tune in a hurry. Part of the reason he has this illness is that he has a lot of pain in his life that he's not dealing with. However, my contribution to it has been to give him too much money so he has the funds to binge drink as well as make his life so easy for him that it was enabling him rather than empowering him.

He is in denial and doesn't realize the issue. This book helped me be okay with that, realize I've done all I could by offering him treatment, etc - and that I have a life that I deserve enjoying. And that's a good thing!

With the other one, I learned that most likely I may watch him "shoot himself in the foot" over and over again. I do my best to offer him my guidance ahead of time when he wants it but usually he's a lot smarter than me he says.

So, again, I've learned that he'll do it his way and that's okay.
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