What is enabling? When we help or rescue our children we are reinforcing their belief that they cannot do it themselves. This increases their own self-contempt and sense of powerlessness.
When we help them we also take away their ability to learn to be independent.
A poll by the New York Times revealed that many parents are doing things FOR their adult children in ways that are actually UNHELPFUL to learning and living a independent life.
Here are some stats:
☑️ 76 percent reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork
☑️ 74 percent made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments
☑️ 15 percent of parents with children in college had texted or called them to wake them up so they didn’t sleep through a class or test.
When your role as a parent includes fostering a reliance on you in order to complete daily tasks and responsibilities, your teen doesn’t learn the skills necessary to successfully navigate life.
So what leads to these behaviors by parents?
There is a vicious cycle:
The parent cannot tolerate to see their teen struggling and in pain. This leads to parental feeling of guilt, anxiety, fear, worry, etc. To alleviate these feelings they need to fix their teen and save them from emotional distress. They step in to rescue and save. The teen takes advantage because it is easier. The parent then feels anger and resentment. And ultimately, the teen believes they cannot do what their parent feels they cannot do.
What can you do?
- Name your limits
- Be clear and direct
- Be consistent
- Give yourself permission
- To feel
- To struggle
- To say no
- Never set a boundary you won’t keep
Encourage positive behavior by focusing on the positives no matter how small; ask encouraging questions, don’t make assumptions, ask questions rather than accuse.
Make a family agreement that you are committed to following through.
Break the cycle of enabling: Moving out of that cycle of rescuing, disappointment, anger, resentment and blame is one of the best things we can do for our child.
The way out is knowing how to set boundaries and believing in them! Know your limits, be consistent and direct; feel free to say NO!- it may be a lifesaver! And never set a boundary or do a family agreement that you cannot keep.
Never underestimate the power of positivity. Your child is so used to feeling shame. Telling themselves what they do wrong. Having someone notice what they do right and believing in them can be a game changer (just don’t over do it)