How Does Enabling Mother Syndrome Affect Substance Abuse In Teens and Adult Children?

As a mother, it can be difficult to know when to trust our teenage children. We want them to safely explore the world and make their own decisions while also understanding that they are growing up and no longer need mommy-watching over every move. Unfortunately, enabling mother syndrome (EMS) is a real issue, and it can contribute to teenagers’ susceptibility to substance abuse. 

Let’s take a closer look at how enabling mother syndrome (EMS) contributes to teenage substance abuse. 

What is Enabling Mother Syndrome?

Enabling mother syndrome is a term used to describe a pattern of parenting in which the parent gives more attention, resources, and support to their child than necessary. This kind of parenting style can be detrimental to the overall well-being of the child and has been linked to substance abuse among teens. 

Parents who enable their teens may be trying to protect them from the adverse effects of substance abuse but ultimately end up making it worse. By providing too much support, these parents are inadvertently shielding their children from the natural consequences of abusing substances like alcohol and drugs, which can ultimately lead to more serious and dangerous issues. For example, teens who are enabled by their parents may not experience the immediate consequences of their decisions and instead view substance abuse as a way of seeking attention or escape from reality.

Enabling mother syndrome can also lead to increased risk-taking behavior in teens. By providing too much help, these parents can make it easier for their children to obtain and use substances. Teens may think that they are invincible and be more willing to take risks in order to get what they want, such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol. This can lead to more serious consequences down the road. 

Parents who enable their teens may also fail to set boundaries and create a sense of responsibility within their children. Teens need to learn how to make responsible decisions on their own and understand the risks associated with substance abuse, but when parents are constantly giving in to their demands and making excuses for them, it can lead teens to become more apathetic towards taking responsibility for their actions.

What Are the Signs of Enabling Mother Syndrome?

There are a number of signs that indicate an enabling mother syndrome, including:

  • Always making excuses for your teen’s behavior 
  • Not setting limits and boundaries 
  • Taking on too much responsibility for your child’s decisions 
  • Refusing to acknowledge when there is a problem 
  • Trying to reserve consequences for your child’s behavior 
  • Trying to be a friend to your teen instead of a parent

These are just some of the signs that can indicate enabling mother syndrome. It is important to recognize these behaviors in order to address them and help prevent substance abuse in teens. 

How To Create Healthy Boundaries For Your Teenager

As a parent, you undoubtedly want the best for your children. You want to provide them with the best possible education and resources so that they can grow into successful adults. However, it’s not always easy to set boundaries for your teenagers. 

So, how do you create healthy boundaries? Well, there are several different types of boundaries that you can use depending on the situation and your teenager’s personality type. Here are a few examples: 

Saying No

Saying no when someone asks for something that you don’t feel comfortable giving. This includes letting people know when they’re asking too much or trying to guilt trip you into giving something away. When someone crosses these boundaries, it’s important that you respond effectively with calmness and reasonableness instead of anger or frustration (this will only further upset your teenager). 

Time Limits

Setting specific time limits. For example, tell your teenager that they can watch TV for an hour but no longer than two hours at a time. If they consistently break these limits without getting permission first, then the parental authority may need to be used in order not to escalate the situation further (meaning punishment such as grounding). 

Communication and Expectations

Keeping communication open but setting clear expectations. Letting your teenager know what behaviors are expected within a certain context (for example: at home during daylight hours), but also provide guidelines as to when those restrictions might no longer apply (for example: going out with friends after 8 pm). 

Finally, remember that boundaries exist in order to protect both parents and children so be sure to always maintain positive communication while enforcing these structures! 

Seeking Professional And Supportive Care For Teens Struggling With Addiction

As a parent, it’s hard to watch your child struggle with addiction. It’s even harder when you don’t know what to do or where to turn. You may feel like you’re alone in your battle against addiction, but there is help available. 

Recognizing the difference between supportive and enabling behaviors is crucial when trying to help a struggling teen with addiction. Supporting behaviors involve providing practical and emotional support while allowing the teen room for self-sufficiency. Enabling behaviors, on the other hand, involve doing too much for the teen, micromanaging every aspect of their lives, giving up on them altogether, or setting impossible expectations.

Consequences of enabling behavior include: lowered self-esteem due to being controlled constantly; increased use and dependence on substances; greater risk for developing addictions other than drugs; poorer mental health outcomes; less successful long-term recovery from addiction. 

Seeking professional help is always an option if you suspect your child is struggling with substance abuse. Professional counselors can provide individualized support while helping you navigate through the confusing maze that is addiction recovery. 

Healthy Ways Parents Can Help Their Adult Children

To help combat this syndrome and help your child to emerge from substance abuse responsibly, it’s important for parents to understand the symptoms of enabling mother syndrome and what causes it. Parents need to be compassionate and understanding towards their child while still setting appropriate boundaries and providing supportive behavior. Here are some tips on how you can help:.

Define Enabling Mother Syndrome for Yourself

Once you have a better understanding of what qualifies as enabling behavior, you’ll be better equipped to identify it in your own life and respond accordingly.

Support Your Child Without Enabling Them

It’s important not to provide unconditional support – instead, provide support that is based on your child’s progress and needs. This will help them learn how to take responsibility for themselves while still remaining close to family members who care about them. 

Avoid Responding Emotionally

When something bad happens in an adult child’s life – such as getting kicked out of the house or getting addicted to drugs – don’t react emotionally; instead, try responding rationally. This will help you stay objective and assist your child in making responsible decisions moving forward. 

Be Persistent

It can take a lot of effort (and sometimes patience), but eventually, positive change will happen when parents provide supportive behavior consistently over time. Helping kids learn about responsibility and accountability is key here – helping them understand that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions no matter what anyone else does or says.

In Short

Enabling Mother Syndrome is a serious issue that can have far-reaching consequences for teens and their families. The relationship between parents and their children is so important, and it is essential for parents to foster healthy boundaries, communication skills, empathy, and problem-solving abilities in order to help prevent substance abuse in teens. If you or someone you know is struggling with Enabling Mother Syndrome or has a teen who is dealing with substance abuse issues, please reach out to New Life House today. Together, we can work towards creating healthier relationships between parents and their children so that teenagers of all ages can reach their full potential without the fear of addiction holding them back.

Last Updated on May 24, 2023


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