For the most part, they may be right.  Some choices made during pregnancy can definitely influlence a child's physiology and future health. Consuming alcohol, using drugs and some medications, eating nutritously, among others, can all influence the health of an unborn child.  However,as of the moment of conception, some unique personality characteristics and physiological potentials are already pretty much fixed, regardless of pre-and post-birth parenting choices that are made.

If you are the mother or father of an adult child who is not making the choices that are necessary for a sound future, this can be a heavier burden than any of the earlier ones you carried.  When your child was young and misbehaved, you probably knew how to discipline your child.  Whtether the effect was lasting or not, you probably felt that at least you were "doing something."

As a adult, your child is no loner legally your responsibility, but you may actually feel an even heavier burden of social and emotional responsibility for him or her.  Depending on how far from your personal measure of "good" your child falls, your personal level of anger and shame may vary.  Some parents resort to hot anger and recriminations of "I didn't raise you to be like this!"  Other parents fall into a trap of accepting the blame that  some misbehaving adult children want to place on them.  Some parents may be bled dry by meeting the financial assistance pleas/demands from children who are habitually showing up in the judical system and need money for court/legal fees.  (And they may hope, often in vain, that the money trouble.)  Some parents carry great shame about their children's mistakes-believing that if they had just done a better job somewhere along the line, this problem/incidence/pattern/behavior would not have appeared in their child's life.

Two Essential Truths

Okay, the first truth is that we all make mistakes as parents.  Yes, its true-good parents are not perfect parents.  All of us could do a better job, in some way, than we do.  But once a child is grown, you cannot have a re-do or an undo.

The second truth is that once a child is an adult, they have all the power they need in their lives to make smart decisions.  And as a corollary, adult children have not right, whatsoever, to blame their parents for decisions they are making today.  A wonderful perk of adulthood is that adults get to take responsibility for themselves and make their own decisions!  And most behaviors are choices-sobriety or stupidity?  Addiction or detox? Fighting or loving?  Honesty or deceit?  Working or slacking? Building up or tearing down?

Seven Suggestions for Coping

  1. Remind your child that it was their choices, not yours, that placed them in circumstances that currently surround them.
  2. Offer assistance and support only to the degree that you are financially able and that will move your child towards a better life. 
  3. Offer to help yoru child find support services, but don't blame yourself if they refuse to use them.  You cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves.
  4. Love your child.  But remember that loving your child does not mean enabling your child.  It means holding them accountable for their behavior and refusing to allow them the power to dismantle the family.
  5. Do not assume that you can "rescue" your adult child...that is simply not possible and attempts to do so are definitely not the way to encourage autonomy and responsibility for any adult.
  6. Protect yoruself and the rest of the family.  Not every adult child has to hit "rock bottom" before turning around their life, so do not allow your child to bring you or the family to "rock bottom," either!
  7. Love yourself.  Parents truly do the best they can, but should not hold themselves accountable for the poor choices of their adult children.  Once, you become a parent, that role has no end point.  However, the responsibilities of that role definitely show over time as a child matures.  They lessen, not expand.  Loving yourself and accepting your limits will keep you from spiraling down as a result of your child's choices.