empowerment: the giving or delegation of power or authority; authorization
enabling: “when helping your child is hurting you more than it is helping them…”
Every parent wrestles with “what to do” when it comes to the behaviors of a child with an addiction. We want so much for them to embrace a recovery program and be successful in that endeavor. We are committed that we cannot lose them or give up on them as they battle their addiction related issues. We believe that our love, our hope, and our encouragement will somehow facilitate the outcomes we desire. And, we will never give up on those beliefs, desires, or commitments as long as we have breath in our lungs.
What we don’t realize is that every time we look past their behaviors as we focus on our dreams, we are hurting ourselves and we are not helping them. We hurt ourselves because we experience a crushing emotional and sometimes physical blow with every relapse, deception, altercation, overdose or arrest. We are not helping them because we do everything in our power to help them avoid all the truly painful choices of their decisions.
There are two simple words that every parent needs to bring into their vocabulary. Every parent needs to understand what these words mean and recognize which behavior facilitates any potential for recovery and which one delays it or prevents it.
1. Enabling: We all fear the results and outcomes associated with our child’s addictive ways. Their addiction often flies under the radar until they are caught, overdose, or run out of money. Once we discover the problem, we go into rescue and cure mode. We are going to save our child. We equate keeping them out of jail, off the streets, and safely protected in our homes as s critical means to the end. Yet, we are disappointed and crushed time and again to discover through theft, deception, arrest that the addiction lives on. Our commitment to protecting them from the mistakes of their addiction and us from our fears of loving them overrules our intellectual choices. Instead we continue to save the soul that is lost to their addiction.
“When helping your child is hurting you more than it is helping them” you are enabling your child. You are slowly destroying yourself and you are unintentionally allowing them to experience the true outcomes of their choices. If you want to end the insanity in your life and offer your child any hope of recovery you must eventually stop enabling them.
2. Empowerment: At some point every child, addicted or not, needs to accept responsibility for their life. They need to experience and learn from their choices and decisions. They need to discover how to apply these lessons in order to develop and evolve. Whether they are dealing with an addiction or not, this is reality. Whether we like it or not, we parents need to embrace this reality.
Empowerment is the act of giving our children authority over their life. It is also the act of taking authority and control over our life. Our children will only learn when they have responsibility for their life and we can only find peace in our life when we take back control of it.
3. Take Action:
- When you look at your life and wonder what to do with your addicted child ask yourself this question: Am I enabling my child or empowering them?
- If your answer is enabling, ask yourself why?
- Ask yourself, how that choice is helping both you AND your child.
- Challenge yourself to map out a course of action that empowers your child to live the life they have chosen to live and helps you reclaim authority over your life.
It won’t be easy, but it is the better than living the insanity you are dealing with right now. Peace!
100Pedals has recently released two FREE programs for parents. (1) “Addiction and the Family: Four Guidelines to Embrace” is an audio program that provides parents perspective for dealing with addiction in the family. To obtain your digital download click here. (2) “Addiction Conversation” is a weekly podcast where Dave Cooke interviews parents, those in recovery, counselors, and legal experts to provide their perspectives from their experiences with addiction. To listen to an individual session click here or to download the podcast to I-Tunes click here.