I am so guilty of this one! Should we, as parents, enable our children? Of course not…however, that is easier said than done!
Take the case of a child with an addiction to say, alcohol.
When he gets irritable, refuses to cooperate, or even to threaten harm to himself, wouldn’t it be easy for you to enable him to get that drink?
I sound like a terrible parent, I know, but me and my husband are guilty of enabling our children when we didn’t know how to deal with their problems in a more effective manner.
Has this happened to you?
“Mom, can you please just lone me a couple of dollars? I’ll walk to the store, I’ll mow the grass, whatever you want, I just need a beer!”
Now, in hindsight, I know what I should have done. But, of course, I didn’t. No parent wants to see their child suffering, and alcoholism is a disease. He was suffering (in his mind) and I was suckered into his ploy, more times than I want to admit.
And it wasn’t always beer. Sometimes it was cigarettes.
Eventually, I went to a support group that taught me that to enable him was hurting him more in the long run, that his alcoholism was not MY problem, and he needed to find a group to help him manage it himself. He is nearly 40 years old, and still working on it. In fact, all three of my boys have their demons, but somehow two of them manage to work and feed their habits with their own money.
Sadly, one of my boys has not, and it puts added pressure and drama on all of us who love him.
I wish we had been stronger when he was young. We did so many things right, yet somehow, I feel like we and the system in general, failed him. We took him to all kinds of doctors (he has way more issues than just alcohol addiction), put him on medication, sought counseling for him and ourselves.
In the end, he chose the path he wanted to travel, and I had to let go and let God when it came to him and his problems. Still, it’s impossible to turn your back on your children. He had to come spend a year with us and just recently moved out. We could not let him suffer the fate of living under a bridge somewhere.
Maybe we should have. There are many who agree that if he does not hit “rock bottom”, he will never learn to fend for himself. Maybe they are right. But because of the kindness of his friends, he always seems to land on his feet. Well, he finds food and shelter and someone to pay for his habits. Sure, he will work…for a little while. But for some reason, it never sticks.
I pray someday he “gets it”, but until that day, all I can do is hope and pray God protects him and keeps him safe.