There is a very fine line between helping and enabling when it comes to an addicted loved one. Parentsâ€™ natural reaction towards their children is to want to help them in any way they can. However, those with addiction quickly learn the art of manipulation and often use their parentsâ€™ good intentions against them.
It is not uncommon for addicted an addicted child to play on his/her parentâ€™s heartstrings to get what he/she needs when addicted to substances such as alcohol or drugs. The child may ask for money and claim it is for bills or food when in fact it is to fund their habit. Parents will often convince themselves that they are helping their child, when in fact what they are really doing is making it easier for the affected individual to continue with his/her destructive behaviour.
Helping a Child in Recovery
The same can be said of children in recovery, in terms of walking a fine line between helping and enabling. Parents may feel a tremendous sense of relief once their child seems to have beaten the addiction and is now living in recovery. Nevertheless, parents still need to be very careful about how much help they provide to their child at this stage. If you are a parent in such a position, it is essential that you do not provide the kind of help that will allow your child to return to his or her drinking- or drug-taking ways.
There is no doubting that your child may need help, especially in the early days of recovery. The help you provide should be basic. That means you should offer no more help than food, shelter, clothing and maybe transportation. Your child needs to learn how to function on his or her own feet, but if you continue to provide money or buy the things he or she wants, this will never happen.
If Your Child Lives with You
Your child may still be living with you; if so, you must make sure that he or she contributes to the housekeeping. If your child is working or on benefits, take money for room and board. Allowing your child to live rent-free means that he or she will not learn the values needed to make it alone in the world when the time comes.
Also, make a point of asking your child to help out around the house. You cannot be expected to take care of everything while your child sits back and watches.
Letting Your Child Take Responsibility
When your child returns home from rehabilitation, you may be tempted to help with his or her meeting schedule. This may appear a harmless thing to do, but it is important that your child takes responsibility for his or her own sobriety. You cannot monitor your child twenty-four hours a day, and he or she must be prepared to make the effort to ensure sobriety is maintained.
It is a good idea for you to take a step back from your childâ€™s recovery programme. Providing essentials is enough for now.
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of enabling when it comes to loved ones who are addicted or are in recovery. Taking over the responsibilities of this person may seem a good idea, but in truth, this just prevents the addict or recovering addict from taking responsibility and can hamper their sobriety.
Failing to hold your loved one accountable for his or her actions is another form of enabling and can be very damaging. By doing this, you are only fooling yourself into thinking that you are helping when, in fact, you are making the situation worse.