STOP Enabling Grown Children

STOP Enabling Grown Children

You CAN STOP enabling grown children!

Moms everywhere are helping their kids everyday. From the day they are born we tie shoes, wipe noses, kiss boo-boos. As they grow we graduate to driving them to activities, sitting in bleachers for hours, and suffering through stinky, smelly shoes and socks at the end of a long day.

It is frustrating and exhausting, but we know that they are kids and we are needed to teach them how to do stuff. So… we keep helping, doing, driving, showing, …. on and on, the list goes.

As children grow into young adults, our roles change. We aren’t needed as much, or so it seems. Many times this continues after they are grown and supposed to be independent financially, physically and emotionally. When our helping becomes a way for our grown children to avoid responsibility and the consequences of their choices, we have turned into enablers.

Are you an enabler?

Enabling can stop a child from learning to control their own behavior when a parent takes the sting out of the consequences. Learning from the consequences of our behavior is normal and healthy. We ARE SUPPOSED to get burned when we touch something hot. It IS SUPPOSED to hurt when we get burned. THAT natural consequence is what teaches us to stop touching the hot stove, etc.

We would never think to allow a child to continue touching a hot stove just because we want to help. Nope, we want them to learn that it is hot and it will hurt them. Sometimes, we even give a consequence when they don’t listen to our warning. But if they don’t listen, they WILL get burned. They will learn not to touch the hot stove for sure if they get burned. (ok, no haters. I am not advocating letting your child burn themselves on the hot stove, but sometimes they do anyway, and then they learn.)

When our children grow up, sometimes moms of adult children “just want to help.” Sometimes we give advice or opinions when they aren’t wanted or needed. Learn how to combat that bad habit. We just want to be a help to them because we know life is hard. We don’t want them to suffer, and we certainly don’t want our grandchildren to suffer needlessly because we didn’t help.

The truth is that unless our adult children suffer in some way, they won’t learn what they want to do in life. Suffering helps us learn that we don’t want to go down that path or make that choice. When we drink too much, the next day we feel like crap! We suffer! Sometimes the consequence of that behavior can be life changing to us and to others. It is in the suffering that we learn! If we want our children to be successful adults, we have to learn to stop enabling grown children.

stop enabling grown children
stop enabling grown children

Can we all just STOP!

STOP! denying and avoiding negative behavior

The more we deny or avoid the negative behavior, the harder it will be to change – um for both of you. Yep, mom YOU have to change what you are doing if you want different results.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

Moms have to change how they are confronting the negative behavior. There can be no more denial or avoidance. Confronting negative behavior with love and respect, but a healthy dose of “putting my foot down” attitude is the only way to see change. But be forewarned, the grown child may decide to leave rather than change. Prepare your heart for this. It hurts deeply, but let them go and seek their own path. It’s the only way you will stop enabling your grown children or that they will learn from their mistakes.

STOP! giving them money without strings attached.

Yes, we have been responsible for our children’s financial needs since their birth. As they grow we need to gradually shift that responsibility onto them. Teaching them how to manage their money is crucial. As moms of adult children, we can’t just keeping throwing money at problems, though. We must stop enabling them if we expect them to mature.

IF they absolutely need your financial help, don’t just hand them cash. It they need counseling or treatment for an addiction, you could pay the facility or the counselor directly. Have them bear the responsibility to pay it back when they get on their feet. Write a contract, make an agreement in writing that will hold them accountable.

STOP! taking charge of their responsibilities!

If we want to stop enabling grown children, we have to remember that we are not in charge of them or their responsibilities anymore. It is their job to take care of their lives. When we organize, prioritize and basically rob them of the life lesson to take charge of their own responsibilities, it isn’t love.

Love your child enough to hold them accountable for their own lives. Give them the gift of your belief in them. Send them the message that you believe they are smart, strong and capable of living their live and making their own choices AND living with the benefits or consequences of those choices.

STOP! excessive sacrifice for their needs.

You can’t stop enabling grown children if you are always throwing yourself under the bus to accommodate their needs. I mean it’s one thing to fill their needs as children, but when they become adults, you need to put yourself first the majority of the time. Teaching them that they are the most important little princess in the world and all worlds revolve around them isn’t helping them at all!! And please!! think of the rest of us who get the honor or running into your prince or princess out in the real world.

Teach them by example that their needs don’t come before your own. If they don’t see you putting your needs first, they will eventually learn to do the same thing with someone else and become an enabler, too. Do you want that for your child? Take car of you!!!

STOP! going it alone!

Yes!! can we please stop thinking that we are all alone in this world? Especially with internet everything now! There is help and support for you. If you see that you have become the enabler and cannot stop it on your own, get help!!! There is no shame in the therapy game!!! See how my friend, Rebekah, makes therapy a priority and convenient at the same time!!!

Take your own advice and find support! If you want to join a group of moms that are ready to support and help you through these challenges (no therapists or medical doctors, just moms loving on moms) join the facebook group.

So come on ova!!! Bring a snack to share and a story to tell!!!

clarity classroom
Clydene Balke

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