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Savvy Parenting

Are You Enabling Your Grown Child? Here’s How to Stop

Do you always rescue your adult child when trouble arises? Here are the signs you’re enabling grown children + ways to stop it & empower your kids. 

5 Ways to Stop Enabling Your Grown Child

All kids grow older and become adults. When this happens, parents have to eventually let them go and realize they are old enough to make their own decisions. 

This reality may seem hard to confront, especially for those who are so attached to their children or still see them as little kids who always depended on mom and dad. 

What’s even more difficult to accept is that these adult kids may sometimes face crises and troubles in the future. A common instinct for some parents is to take matters into their own hands and rescue or save their kids. 

This approach, however, leads to enabling, which can then prevent kids from becoming independent and successful on their own. 

Here are 5 ways to stop enabling your grown children + information on how mental therapy can help you.

What is enabling?

Enabling refers to continuously allowing a person (in this case your grown child) to engage in behaviors or habits that interfere with their ability to become a mature and responsible adult. 

Parents who enable their grown children take away their freedom to act and think for themselves. They think they are helping them, but they are actually holding them back. 

There is nothing wrong with helping a child, but too much of it can veer into unhealthy territory. This is especially true with toxic enabling, which can refer to funding your child’s substance abuse or justifying their usage. 

Parents enabling grown children also send implicit or explicit messages like “I don’t believe in you” or “I don’t think you have what it takes to make it on your own.

Are you enabling your grown kids?

Sometimes, parents enable grown children without being aware of it. If you, for instance, are guilty of providing too much help in fixing your adult child’s issues, you are enabling them. 

This is especially true if you’re always rescuing them every time they are in trouble, leaving you wondering when they will ever learn or know how to stand on their own two feet.

Here are the other signs you are enabling adult children: 

Your child doesn’t take “no” for an answer 

Your adult kid might be too dependent on you if they get mad or react viscerally whenever you say “no” to their favors. It is also a red flag if you always feel guilty after saying “no” and giving in later on.

You make decisions for them 

It is problematic if you make all the decisions for your grown child or if they depend on you to decide on their career, friendships, and love life. 

You often feel disrespected

 If your grown kid continues to break your rules or become disrespectful whenever you refuse to do what they want, it is a sign that they have become too dependent on you.  

You pay for everything 

You are enabling negative behavior if you always pay for your grown child’s bills because they can’t hold down a job or refuse to get one. The same is also true if you let them borrow money even though you know they couldn’t pay it back.

You feel stressed or burnt out

Being entangled with your child’s affairs or crises can continuously drain your energy. This can take a toll on your physical and mental health. 

How to stop enabling adult children

If you’re one of those parents who enable their grown children, know that it can have long-term negative effects. Expecting less of them as an attempt to make their lives easier will only make it harder for them in the future. 

What you need to do is be a positive influence and encourage them to become more independent.

Here are a few tips on how to stop enabling your grown child:

Establish boundaries

While there is nothing wrong with helping your grown kid in times of crisis, they should try to figure out solutions on their own. 

If your child, for instance, is still living at home, set rules relating to their chores, contributions to bills, and whether or not they can invite people over. It is likely that your adult kid may oppose some of these expectations, but you need to stick to your guns.

Try not to be aggressive as you motivate your child to become independent. The goal is to be understanding and supportive. You can reassure them that you’re always there to listen and offer emotional support. 

You should encourage them to figure out things on their own and how doing so can make them feel better about themselves.

Think twice before giving money

Giving them money to get back on their feet is fine, but this shouldn’t go on for the long term. Let them know that they have choices in reversing their financial situation. These include finding a job and downsizing. 

It is not going to be easy seeing your kids struggle with debt, but you need to learn how to be okay with it. Remind them that we all fall and get knocked down so we can learn and get back up. 

If you are thinking of lending money, let them know that they need to pay it. Set expectations on when it will be paid, and help them create a plan of action on how to do it. 

You can also get it into writing or draw a promissory note instead of relying on a verbal agreement. This is so the loan wouldn’t be considered as a gift if it isn’t paid back. 

Forgive yourself and practice self-compassion

If you have tried to help your adult kids to the best of your ability, it is time to focus on yourself and practice self-compassion. Be reminded that parents are not obligated to support their adult kids forever.  

If you have enabled your kids in the past and are eager to turn things around, forgive yourself and ask for help if you need it. 

Choosing to break the cycle of enabling adult children might not always be easy. The payoff, however, is worthwhile, especially once you start seeing your kid slowly gain independence. 

You might also be surprised at their ability to take on problems and make decisions for themselves. 

Support in other ways

When kids lose the financial help or comfort they’ve been familiar with, they might feel lost or stuck as they navigate the world. Let them know that you are willing to provide other types of help, aside from monetary support or making decisions for them. 

You can stop enabling grown children by helping them strategize ways to increase their income.

*Here are the other ways you can offer support:

*Tell your adult child you believe in them 

*Allow them to fail or make mistakes

*Share your struggles or weaknesses when you were at their age

*Give them reassurance it is never too late to start anew

*Help your adult kid connect with the right people

Reach out for professional support

If you always find yourself giving in or struggling with how to stop enabling your grown child, talk with a therapist. They can help you explore the reasons why this is happening and develop strategies to break the cycle. 

Mental health professionals can also help you realize that you are an enabling parent without being aware of it. 

Your adult child can also benefit from it, especially if they are struggling with anxiety or depression. The best part is they can do it online using their laptop or phone. 

Online therapy from the Calmerry therapists offers a safe space to express their feelings while helping them build positive thinking patterns and healthy habits. It also provides support for the whole family, particularly in communicating and creating boundaries.  

Final Word

Stop the cycle of unhealthy rescuing and enabling your grown child. Motivate them toward independence and success with emotional support, guidance, and freedom. 

Professional help through therapy or counseling is also available if you’re struggling to help your adult children without enabling them. 

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 .

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