Home » Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child

Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child

Asked by on with 1 answer:

Our only daughter, who is married and lives in another city, surprised us recently with a letter indicating that she believes that our family is dysfunctional. She indicated that for years she has had to ‘pretend’ to endure being in our presence. She recommends that we seek help to heal our relationship. What does a healthy relationship between parents and their adult child look like? What criteria should we use to we select a therapist (here, there, or somewhere between) to help us explore these issues?

Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child

Answered by on -


First let me applaud you for taking this information and request from your daughter with an open mind and willingness. Whatever the path toward healing and therapist you choose, you will have started on the best possible foundation: listening and responding to your daughter’s needs.

A good family therapist, perhaps one that is a licensed marriage and family counselor might be a good place to start. But many other therapists can have training and expertise in working with and healing families. He or she will be able to help you navigate through this. The find help tab at the top of the page will give you some names in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.