Being a parent is an enormous gift for many. From the very beginning, parents do everything to protect their kids and create the most loving and supporting space for them to grow.
However, sometimes this unconditional love we give our children can transform into enabling them even if they are already grown up.
This behavior is so hard to break. So the sooner you learn to detect it and stop enabling your children, the better it will be for you and your children.
In the article, you will explore the following:
- what enabling is
- how parents enabling grown children can harm them
- what the main signs of an enabling parent are
- how to stop enabling grown children
What Enabling a Child Means?
Enabling means supporting and actively encouraging someone but in the most unhealthy way. It means doing something that a person (in our case, it’s an adult child) can do for themselves.
Parents are focused on financial and emotional support while nurturing the irresponsible, emotionally dependent, and selfish behavior of their grown children.
Some parents can also allow or ignore inappropriate communication and disrespectful attitude towards them. It resulted in the unhealthy demonstration of children’s frustration, disappointment, or other negative emotions.
Signs of Parents Who Enable Their Grown Children
If you still are not sure whether you enable your child or simply help and care about them, check out the main signs of enabling parents.
These include the following:
- your child/children don’t respect you
- you make all the minor and major decisions for them
- you fully support them financially
- your child/children cannot accept “No”
- you teach them adult things they already know
- your adult kid borrows money from you
- you are responsible for their mistakes and failures
- you are always manipulated
- you make excuses for child/children’s inappropriate behavior
- you complete their tasks for them
- you control their lives
- you feel that you make sacrifices for your adult kids
- you are worried about doing something that will hurt or upset them
- you feel emotionally exhausted
These are only a few examples of how parents might enable their adult children. Every relationship is unique, and if you are unable to detect the problem by yourself, consider getting some professional help.
Why Is Toxic Enabling Harmful?
Whereas protecting our kids, loving, and caring about them is completely normal, controlling their lives and taking on the responsibility for their every step takes a serious toll on your family.
As we have already mentioned above, enabling adult children won’t do any good. It negatively impacts both parents and children.
The negative impacts on your children
If you overly shield your kid, they won’t be able to cope with hardships, provide for them financially, and face adversity. It’s crucial to have room for independence in order to learn pivotal life skills and learn paramount lessons.
If they don’t have a chance to encounter and deal with problems themselves they won’t be able to acquire coping strategies that will help them manage life disappointments in the future. They will feel completely powerless in their daily lives.
Children who get constantly enabled by their parents cannot function in the real world as they cannot handle responsibilities and other challenges. It will be difficult for them to manage finances, do daily chores and other tasks that parents used to perform for them.
The negative impacts on you as a parent
Speaking of parents, they experience a lot of emotional discomforts as well. Enabling children is certainly a burden that is so hard to carry.
In addition, dependent kids usually lack respect and can behave and communicate in an inappropriate manner. Despite all of this, parents find it extremely hard to stop enabling their grown kids as they get used to similar behavioral patterns.
Luckily, there are a few ways that will help you stop enabling and start your way to a new life for you and your child.
How to Stop Enabling Your Grown Child: 7 Tips
It’s not too late to let them become an independent member of our society. Once you know what the main signs of enabling parents are, it’s high time to explore the main ways that will help you to overcome this problem.
1. Understand the Difference Between Helping and Enabling
Before we proceed to the more practical tips, it’s paramount to understand the difference between helping and enabling first.
Helping is supporting a person on their way to wellness or recovery. Or it can be doing something another person is unable to do.
We all help each other all the time and supporting another person in need is completely fine as this is temporary support we provide.
On the contrary, enabling is unhealthy behavior. Enabling is doing things for the person they are completely able to perform. Even if you have only good intentions in your mind it’s extremely harmful and it interferes with the person’s adult responsibilities.
Over some time, it will turn into a deep addiction for a person who is being enabled by their parents and they won’t be able to do anything on their own.
As you can see, the difference is tangible. Whereas help is associated only with positive and healthy support, enabling nurtures codependence and doesn’t let both parents and children live a fulfilling life and hinders their way to well-being.
2. Create Realistic Expectations and Goals
You cannot just kick your kid out of your life. To stop enabling them and make the transitional process successful for both of you, it’s important to set some realistic goals and expectations.
Come up with the strategy that you will stick to while helping your child to become more independent. Think of the regulations that both parties will have to accept and follow.
Remember that a lot of parents are in the same situation, so don’t be afraid to look for advice from your peers and see how they got through this.
3. Set Boundaries and Encourage Them to Be More Independent
Don’t wait for your child to suddenly be independent. It’s your main job to make them become the only one person they can rely on.0
You have to encourage them to be more self-sufficient and learn to handle their own problems. If they still live with you, it’s high time to tell them to move out and look for their own place.
If you support them financially then cut off your financial support and motivate them to get their job or look for a job that gets paid higher. Children can be dependent on you in so many ways, so whatever your case is — simply demonstrate that your kid has no other choice but to live on their own and make their own mistakes.
It’s all about setting your boundaries. You are both adults and you have the right to show that you are over taking care of the grown-up person and want to live your life and spend more time on yourself.
Sit and have a talk together with your child and explain the rules you want to set up in the future. Discuss all the details right away and make sure that everything is clear and you are on the same page.
Eventually, it will help you improve your family relationships, and your children will become more mature and self-reliant.
4. Learn to Say “No”
Difficulties with saying “no” is one of the main characteristics of an enabling parent. The fact that you allow your child everything and anything has led to such consequences. It won’t be easy for you to say the magical word “no” that will force your kid to finally grow up.
No matter how hard you want to go to the rescue and help your children you have to stay aside and let them deal with the problem on their own. Whether it’s about money or some other issue that requires your help you don’t have to do this.
They are adults and they need to know how to address their own problems. Be uncompromising and show that your kid won’t be able to manipulate you the way they did it all these years.
5. Accept the Fact That Struggles Nurture Resilience
Seeing your child struggling to succeed in being independent might be hard and it’s natural. However, in order to cope with the consequences of your enabling requires it.
Let them make their own mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and even struggle while making some important decisions and learning to live their life as an adult. It will only nurture their resilience and will enable them to grow as an independent personality.
It goes without saying that you want to see your children happy, healthy, and successful. To make it happen you have to take a step aside and let real life happen to your grown kid.
They will struggle, they will encounter challenges. It’s going to be hard but this is an inevitable part of cutting off this emotional and financial dependence.
6. Stop Feeling Guilty
These are some crucial steps to changing your parenting methods. Due to this, some parents feel enormous guilt as they stop doing things they have been doing all their life. Saying no, cutting off your financial support, separating emotionally and physically is certainly challenging for both of you.
However, this is something you have to go through to achieve the desired results. Guilt is simply your emotional reaction to such life-transforming events. Don’t let this feeling undermine your whole progress and try to suppress your impulses of going the same road again.
If this feeling is overwhelming and you don’t know how to deal with it then replace it with something different. Remember that you have your own life to live and finally do something that you didn’t do because you didn’t have enough time or money.
Now, you have it all for yourself. Try out a new hobby, go on travels, simply pamper yourself with a self-care routine. It will keep you distracted from the wrong thoughts and will be beneficial for you as an individual.
7. Support Them Through These Changes
It’s crucial to remember that the changes don’t happen overnight and it’s important to stay patient. Adults have less flexible minds and in order to transform life-lasting habits and behavioral patterns, a significant amount of time and effort is required.
All you have to do is to stay consistent with your practices and you will be able to see some results in the future.
As a parent, your main job is to stay determined and uncompromising but, at the same, time know how to support your child through these serious transformations. Don’t forget to simply talk and share your feelings. Your emotional support is still needed as everything should happen gradually. Step by step, both of you will change and you will be able to live a fulfilling and healthy life.
Online Therapy as an Effective Solution for an Enabling Parent
If you find it harder than expected to stop enabling grown children and you cannot do this by yourself, getting some extra help might be helpful.
More and more people pay more attention to their mental health and emotional well-being and choose therapy as an effective way to improve their lives. It can help cope with a wide range of problems — starting from interpersonal issues or lack of self-esteem to complex mental health disorders.
It can also be effective when coping with an enabling problem between parents and their children. Therefore, this is something you should definitely consider.
If you are thinking that therapy is not something that you have time and money for, there is some good news for you. Today, online therapy becomes increasingly popular among people of all ages. The main difference between commonly known face-to-face sessions is that online meetings with a therapist are much more affordable and convenient.
Usually, there are various pricing options available offered by online therapists depending on the range of features and services. You will be able to find the most suitable option that meets all your budget needs.
Speaking of the overall convenience, online therapy is a great solution for those who are swamped with daily tasks and don’t have time. There is no need to commute to the doctor’s office as you can get in touch with them via your favorite gadgets and your location doesn’t matter at all.
You will get a chance to connect with qualified therapists with a wide range of professional competencies and industry expertise. You can choose whatever specialist you are most comfortable communicating with. So you enjoy the process and fully trust them to share everything that’s on your mind and soul.
Therapy style you choose
There are different types of therapy that will help you get through this. There are two options for you. The first one is individual therapy so you can change your behavior and let your kids be more independent. The second option is family therapy that you can attend with your child/children. It will enhance your progress. You will work not just on your attitude and behavior but your kids will also have an option to work on improving their relationship with you, become more confident and autonomous.
No matter what option is suitable for you, it will certainly be beneficial for you and your family. In addition, you will have a chance to work on other emotional problems you might experience to achieve integral results that will significantly improve the quality of your life.
Summing It Up
Enabling adult children is a pretty common problem for parents. Whereas supporting your kids is something that each parent will keep doing during their whole life, enabling is something that won’t do any good for a person.
In this article, we provided some signs of enabling parents and the main tips that will help you stop enabling your grown children.
Remember, that this problem is much deeper. So, often, professional help may be required.
With online therapy, you will be able to cope with this issue under the guidance of a licensed therapist to help you achieve your progress faster. Don’t hesitate to give it a try. It’s the perfect time to break the vicious circle and nurture healthy relationships between you and your adult kids.
Let them be more independent and you will see some amazing changes in their behavior and attitude.