Aims and objectives To explore and describe how young adults between 18-25 years of age experienced growing up with a parent with multiple sclerosis and how these experiences continue to influence their daily lives. Background Chronic parental illness is occurring in about 10% of families worldwide, but little is known about how the children experience growing up with a parent with multiple sclerosis during their childhood and into young adulthood. Design We chose a qualitative design using a phenomenological approach based on Giorgi. Methods Exploratory and open-ended interviews with 14 young adults were conducted. Results The essence of the phenomenon of having a parent with multiple sclerosis was synthesized into 'Striving for balance between caring and restraint' from two themes 'caring' and 'restraint' and eight subthemes. Participants' experiences of caring for parents with multiple sclerosis continued influencing their other close relationships, in which they tended to assume responsibility while concealing some of their feelings and desires. Most participants showed restraint among parents with and without multiple sclerosis, friends and partners. Conclusion It seems that one of the greatest challenges of having a parent with multiple sclerosis is achieving a balance between caring for others and asserting one's own desires. Relevance to clinical practice Healthcare professionals can support the family by encouraging family members to participate in consultations and to assist the parents in providing information about multiple sclerosis and its symptoms to the children. Parents might need assistance in applying for help with domestic chores or referrals to support groups for their children or other family members.