Are you enabling your child? Learn the signs and check out 8 effective tips for stopping the habit. Plus, discover how therapy can help with your situation.
Enabling a Grown Child: Definition, Signs, & Tips for Stopping
You might know or have heard about a 30-something-year-old person who still lives with their parents. Of course, there is nothing too strange about that, but if neither the person nor their parents mind the situation, things become harder.
This is what is called enabling a grown child.
So, what exactly is enabling? How can you know that you are enabling your grown child? What are some tips for stopping, and how can online therapy help? Let’s find out.
What Is Enabling?
Simply put, enabling is a set of habits characterized by actively encouraging or supporting someone by doing things they can do on their own for them.
In a parent-child relationship, enabling is usually in terms of support. If you are a parent who is always supporting your capable adult child/children, whether financially or emotionally, you are enabling a grown child.
Technically, you are enabling your child if you eliminate or interfere with a naturally occurring negative consequence from a grown child’s life. As a result, you make it hard for your child to learn important life lessons from experience.
What are the consequences of enabling your child? Check them out:
- Selfish behavior
- Lack of respect
- Learned helplessness
- Self-esteem issues
What Are the Signs of Parents Enabling Grown Children?
As a parent, you can always learn how to stop enabling your grown child at any time. But for you to do it, you first need to understand the signs.
Here are some of them:
- You make decisions about everything for your child, from jobs and friends to their dates and clothing.
- Your child does not respect you and the boundaries you set.
- Your adult child cannot accept a “no” from you.
- You always settle the bills for everything.
- You always feel taken advantage of and worn out.
8 Tips to Help You Stop Being an Enabling Parent
Ready to learn how to stop enabling your grown child? Start doing these 8 things right away.
The first step towards bettering family relationships and creating stronger, healthier connections and habits is to set some boundaries. Of course, you need to assess your situation to understand what boundaries you can come up with.
A great example of a boundary you can set is to start handing out money to your grown child during valid emergencies only.
Another thing you can consider is making your home a backup residence for your child rather than their primary living quarters.
Learn to Be OK with Seeing Your Child Struggle
Whether you’re an enabling parent or not, it’s hard to see your child struggle.
However, to stop enabling your child and allow them to be independent and responsible, you need to be okay with seeing them struggle from time to time. Try to increase your tolerance of watching them battle out life’s challenges without lending a helping hand.
If you realize that you are always being drawn back to help when your child is struggling, consider talking to a therapist for assistance. An experienced therapist will have no trouble offering you advice and strategies that help break the cycle.
Think Before You Give Money
It’s tempting (in fact, it is only human) to want to offer financial assistance to a child facing money problems. However, if the reason your child needs money is not as serious, you can always refrain from giving it. Only consider handing out some cash to your child if they display a genuine effort of working towards independence.
Prepare Responses for Off Guard Situations
Your adult child will sometimes come to you with “urgent” or “emergency” requests. Part of learning to stop enabling grown children is to have responses ready for these sorts of scenarios. That way, you can avoid being caught off guard or feeling awful for turning down their requests.
So, the next time your grown child tells you something like “Can you send me some money urgently?” respond with “Let me think about it and I will get back to you tomorrow.”
That way, you will have adequate time to think about their request and whether or not you’re enabling your child by giving in to the request. You will also have an opportunity to talk with the child’s other parent before giving a response.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Changed Your Mind When the Situation Demands So
While you want to show your child that you can stay true to your promises, it’s okay to back out of commitments sometimes. Parenting a difficult “adult child” is hard, and most times, you have to improvise.
Such children often struggle with emotional freedom, finding it hard to accept disappointments.
So, don’t be afraid of changing your responses, depending on the situation and the child’s behavior. However, be careful, as well, of making rush, emotionally-driven decisions.
Have Realistic Expectations When Fighting Toxic Enabling
Setting irrational goals and expecting your child to meet them just isn’t going to cut it. Habits take long to form and stick, which means that they will take time to unlearn as well. That goes for your child as well as the enablers, that is, you, your spouse, or other family members.
In any case, you don’t want to set regulations that no one else will follow.
So, set goals and rules that you can follow to limit and eventually eliminate enabling behavior. Also, remember that things won’t always go straight, so cut yourself and everyone else some slack if you slip up.
Most importantly, encourage respectful communication between all parties involved.
Empower Your Child to Thrive on Their Own
One of the best ways to help your child become self-sufficient is to empower them. Most enabling behavior is usually financial. So, by helping your child become financially stable, you’re essentially setting them up for a more independent life.
You can empower your child in various ways. These could include:
- Helping them gain employable skills
- Supporting them to start a business
- Helping them overcome self-doubt
- Encouraging them to pursue a dream or financially viable interest
- Engaging them in ways to become more independent
Get a Therapy to Provide Additional Support
Even with these tips and the best intentions, it can still be difficult to stop enabling adult children. Therefore, you should always get support from a family-specialized therapist. A therapist can help you explore and talk about your family issues, including the underlying issues of your enabling behavior.
Eventually, therapy can help your grown child move on from inappropriate dependency and live a more independent life. And you can have a healthier parent-child relationship.
If you need counseling that’s affordable, convenient, and flexible, consider going for online therapy on Calmerry.
Parents who enable their grown children are often driven by a need to alleviate their children’s suffering or pain. While this behavior may come from a good place, it prevents your child from learning and gaining experience from negative life occurrences.
Enabling behavior eventually brings up children with an unhealthy dependence on their parents.
The good thing is that it’s not too late to change things as you can always reparent your grown-up child. Start by following the tips mentioned above and be ready to set some painful boundaries.
Remember, working with a professional family therapist can help stick to the plan and make it easier for both you and your child.