Are you interested in learning how to stop enabling your grown child? We’ve provided a few actionable tips to help you nip the problem in the bud.
What Is Parent Toxic Enabling and How Should You Deal with It?
Toxic enabling refers to behavior where a parent or caregiver does things for their grown child that they should be doing themselves.
It’s a common problem among parents trying their hardest to make sure that their children succeed in life. But it can be incredibly damaging and lead to more serious issues down the line.
In this post, we will discuss what toxic enabling is, how you should deal with it when you see it happening, and how mental health therapy can help.
Why Is Enabling a Bad Thing?
In the short term, enabling behavior can seem like a good thing. It makes your child feel better about their situation and can give them much-needed relief from stress or anxiety.
But in reality, it’s just delaying the inevitable. Because kids will never learn how to cope with hardship if you’re always fixing up every mess they make for them!
When you rescue your child, you’re preventing them from learning important life skills. You are thus teaching them that the world revolves around them and they can do whatever they want to get their way.
In the long-term, this behavior will have a negative impact on your child because it can lead to more serious issues down the line like addiction, self-esteem issues, or depression.
Not to mention, your adult child won’t be able to function independently without every little thing being taken care of for them.
Signs That You’re an Enabling Parent
There are a few things parents can do to help stop enabling tendencies, but the first step is recognizing that it’s happening in the first place.
If you don’t know what this behavior looks like, here are some examples:
- Giving money to your child without them asking
- Doing their laundry for them
- Cleaning up after them or doing the dishes when they’re done eating dinner
- Letting them off the hook without punishment for bad behavior
- Helping them avoid reality by giving excuses or telling other people what they want to hear
- Lying to protect their feelings, even when it means hurting someone else’s
- Letting your child disrespect you or allow them to break a rule and not holding them accountable
If you notice more than just one or two signs, it’s time for some work. It might seem hard at first, but as soon as you start taking the right approach, you’ll start feeling better about your relationship with your child in no time.
How to Stop Enabling Adult Children
Realizing that you’re an enabling parent isn’t easy. When you find yourself in this situation, you may be tempted to blame yourself and even question your ability to parent your child correctly. Don’t go there. You’re not alone. Many parents find themselves in this position more times than they’d like to admit.
The first step is admitting that you need help and then seeking it out. You may have been enabling your child for many years without realizing it.
The most important part of breaking the cycle of the enabler-parent relationship is accepting your behavior and taking steps to put an end to it.
Consider the following tips.
Get Your Child Involved in Constructive Activities
Getting your child involved in constructive activities will stop you from constantly giving in to your child’s demands. You may find yourself arguing about curfew hours, where they go and what they do, doing their homework or chores around the house.
The best way to stop this is by getting them involved with constructive activities related to a goal-orientated mindset.
Give Money within Reason
Most parents enabling grown children don’t have boundaries with money. They give their children money without any limitations.
They don’t stop giving them a monthly allowance or stop buying them things that they want, which can cause the child not to grow up and become responsible with money themselves.
Stop enabling grown children by only giving them what you are comfortable with within your budget. It may also be a good idea to encourage your child to get a job and stop depending on you to support them financially.
Develop a “Caught Off-Guard” Response
When you’re new to implementing your strategy, you’ll get a lot of push-back from your child. You’re introducing a new way of life they’re not comfortable with. Therefore, they’ll try to make you give up and go back to treating them the way you used to. Don’t give in to the pressure.
In such situations, it helps to have a “caught off-guard response.”
For instance, if you were not expecting your child to ask for money and they ask out of the blue, a response like, “I can’t give you the money, but I’d encourage you to find a way to earn it.”
It may seem mean, especially if you can give them the money, but you’re moving in the right direction. It will teach your child to be independent and earn their own money so that they don’t have to ask for your help every time.
Stay Strong When the Child Resists Change
Parents who enable their grown children have probably been in the cycle for a long time. Their child is used to their enabling behavior, and they won’t just sit back and watch things change.
You may also get the same reaction from your child. When this happens, it’s important to stay strong and not back down.
The child may be mad at you, but they will eventually see that it’s for their own good and might even thank you later on in life when they are living independently.
Get Help for Yourself
Apart from helping your child, you need to get help too. Look into counseling or joining a support group, and turn your anger inwards instead of directing it at others.
It will be hard work, and you may not see results right away but make the commitment anyway because eventually, with time, things will change.
Consider Counseling with Your Adult Child
Enabling behavior isn’t just your problem. Yes, the behavior started because you cuddled your child too much even into adulthood. However, now that it’s happened, it’s an issue for both you and your child.
For this reason, family counseling is often the best option.
If your child is reluctant to attend traditional therapy sessions, online therapy is an excellent alternative. Virtual therapy allows you to remain in a comfortable setting while also connecting with a therapist. Besides, the sessions are flexible enough to accommodate your different schedules.
Counseling can be an opportunity for you and your child to work as partners of the same team, instead of having an adversarial relationship where one person is struggling with mental health issues and the other person is enabling them.
Toxic enabling isn’t good for your child. This behavior may make it impossible for them to function independently as an adult. Therefore, it’s crucial to nip the problem in the bud before it gets out of hand.
The tips in this article will come in handy to help you break the pattern.
Calmerry mental health professionals can help you get through difficult times. They can work with your adult child to address their reliance on you for you both to live the best lives you want!
Author bio:Jennifer Walter is a psychology professor, an independent researcher, writer, and contributor. He is the guru to hundreds of students, the author of hundreds of analysis studies, and the voice behind most liked articles on content creation and strategy at privatewriting.com .