BACKGROUND: Parents often become the caregivers for their adult children with serious mental illness (SMI) due to the chronic and debilitating course of the illness and shortages in funding for community mental health services and residential placements. OBJECTIVE: To examine parents' management styles when caring for adult children with SMI and parents' perspectives on what type of community-based mental health interventions would support and/or enhance overall family functioning. DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive study using semistructured interviews with parents caring for adult children with SMI. The study was undergirded by Knafl and Deatrick's Family Management Style Framework. RESULTS: Four major themes emerged from the data describing prolonged and difficult phases that parents and the family undergo in caring for an adult child with SMI. CONCLUSIONS: Successful management of these phases must include increasing access to mental health information, mental health screening, early interventions, and violence prevention for adult children and their families.