How to Stop Enabling Your Grown Child

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The key to successful parenting is learning how not to enable your grown child. You may be surprised by what you find when looking at them, but one thing’s for certain- they won’t change unless YOU want them too!

Enabling is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it can be hard to define. In general, enabling means doing things for another person that they should be doing for themselves. When it comes to grown children, this can take many forms. For instance, you might give your child money when they’re struggling financially, even if you can’t afford it yourself. Or you might do their laundry and clean their apartment, even though they’re perfectly capable of doing these things on their own. 

Enabling can be well-intentioned, but it can also do more harm than good. It can prevent your child from taking responsibility for their own life, and it can create a dependency that is difficult to break. If you’re worried that you might be enabling your grown child, there are a few things you can do to stop.

Understand the difference between enabling and supporting

One of the first steps to stopping enabling behavior is to understand the difference between enabling and supporting. Both can be helpful, but they serve different purposes. Enabling is about doing things for someone that they should be doing for themselves. This might be because you don’t think they’re capable of doing it, or because you want to avoid a difficult conversation. 

Supporting, on the other hand, is about helping someone through a tough time without taking over their responsibility. For instance, you might help your child with their resume if they’re struggling to find a job. But you wouldn’t do the job search for them, or interview them. Understanding the difference between these two behaviors can help you stop enabling your child and start supporting them in a more helpful way.

Set boundaries for what you are and aren’t willing to do for your child

Enabling behavior often comes from a place of not wanting to say no to your child. But if you want to stop enabling, you need to be willing to set boundaries. This means deciding what you are and aren’t willing to do for your child, and sticking to those boundaries. For instance, you might decide that you’re no longer going to give them money when they ask for it. Or you might decide that you’ll only do their laundry once a week, instead of every time they leave it on the floor. It can be tough to stick to these boundaries, especially if your child is used to getting their way. But it’s important to be firm in order to help your child take responsibility for their own life.

Communicate your expectations clearly and consistently

If you want to stop enabling your child, it’s important to communicate your expectations clearly and consistently. This means being clear about what you expect from them, and reiterating your expectations even when they don’t meet them. For instance, if you’ve told your child that they need to get a job in order to have access to your financial support, you need to stick to that rule even if they can’t find a job right away. It can be difficult to be consistent, but it’s important to do so in order to help your child understand your expectations.

Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes

One of the biggest enabling behaviors is rescuing your child from their own mistakes. But if you want to stop enabling, you need to give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. This means allowing them to experience the consequences of their actions, even if those consequences are difficult. For instance, if your child doesn’t pay their rent on time, you might allow them to be evicted from their apartment. It might be hard to watch your child suffer, but it’s important to allow them to learn from their mistakes.

Enabling your child can be a difficult habit to break. But with time and effort, it is possible to change your behavior and help your child take responsibility for their own life.

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