The concept of an adult child was originally developed to explain challenges that are faced by now adults that grew up with an addict or alcoholic household members. This has expanded to include those that have suffered being brought up around workaholic, numbed, depressed, narcissistic, or abusive adults.  Note that the effects of abuse will vary depending on the situation and personality, as well as, outside influences. You also do not need to have every single one of these traits to be considered an adult child. The results of this have been determined by our child rights attorney, Karen Olivier along with her team of family law lawyers. It has been found that being forced to grow up too fast results in stunted emotional and mental growth in the following ways:

  • Overthinking
  • Searching for certainty and perfection
  • Fear of authority figures
  • Harsh self-judgment
  • Emotionally dependent
  • Guilt, fear, or unexplainable hesitancy in pursuing adult prerogatives
  • A need to be liked
  • Naivety
  • Approval seeking
  • A struggle to say “no”
  • Low self-worth
  • Lack of empathy
  • Excising the offences of others
  • Re-victimisation

These are only the tip of the ice-burg, there are many effects that stay long after the abuse has ended and stays with the child well into adulthood resulting in the existence of the adult child. This has been supported by the traits reflected in children still suffering the abuse, neglect, and so on.

This is not always the case as some learn to deal with childhood trauma while others bury it. The effects of childhood abuse are never uniform across the board but one of the results is the “adult child”.

Are you looking for a family lawyer or a child rights attorney in Durban? We have a team of specialised family law attorneys who are equipped to help you with your needs. Contact Durban Law Offices on 031 836 0307 or email us at so that one of our lawyers may assist you and/or provide you with advice when it comes to potentially saving children from growing into adult children.