It may be hard to admit – or even to notice that you’re doing it – but enabling is something that parents of addicts do very regularly. Enabling can take many forms and can be glaringly obvious, or totally invisible.
Whether parents are conscious of it or not, their actions could potentially be allowing, encouraging, or even sustaining their child’s drug addiction. This is why every parent of an addict should be able to identify what enabling is, see when it’s happening, and gain the tools to put a stop to it.
What Is Enabling?
In simple terms, enabling is the process of allowing addiction to continue through action, inaction, or mindset by those around an addict. It can be as blatant as giving your child money when you know that they are going to buy drugs with it, or as innocent as not realizing that your child may be trying to manipulate you.
However enabling happens, it creates an environment in which the addict sees that they can shift the playing field in favor of their drug use. Addicts will usually go to any lengths in order to satisfy their needs, and parents end up hurting because of it. But if you as a parent are able to set healthy boundaries for yourself, stick to them, and be aware of the intentions behind your child’s words and actions, you can cut enabling out of your life and help your child.
Setting Boundaries is Necessary
One of the most difficult things for loving parents of addicts to do is set firm boundaries and stick to them. Many addicts have a silver tongue and are incredibly good at manipulating situations and emotions in favor of their desires. This creates a tough situation for parents as you may never know what to believe.
While there may not be an easy cut and dry solution to this problem, parents can make it a lot easier on themselves by drawing hard lines on what they will and will not do, then sticking to that firmly. If you often find yourself wavering on boundaries that you have previously set, it would be a good idea to take a hard look at how easily you are willing to give in to your child’s requests, why you are wavering on your boundaries, and how they act and react to you in situations like these.
If you are able and willing to stand firm on the lines you have drawn, then you will be much less likely to enable addict behavior and can potentially nip the whole addiction in the bud.
Identifying and Stopping Manipulation
Identifying manipulative behavior can be difficult, especially when children know their parents very well and know which buttons to push to get a certain reaction.
One parent may be more willing to cave on a boundary if their child cries while the other parent can be bullied into submission. Again, this is a difficult subject to tackle as a parent, but it is necessary to know what your emotional weak spots are in order to defend against manipulation attacks.
Addicts can be notoriously successful at getting what they want from their parents once they figure out the right tactics, so it is crucial as a parent to know how to counteract this. You can start by questioning your own thought process in situations where you are unsure of whether or not to trust what your child is saying or doing. If you find yourself uneasy about caving on a boundary, it is probably in your child’s best interest that you hold firm. They will not be happy about it, but in the long run it will benefit everyone involved.
Save Their Life, Stop Enabling
In closing, enabling is an extremely tough beast to tackle and most parents of drug addicts have dealt with it in one form or another. However, you are not alone and there is definitely a way to identify and stop it. It all starts with you as the parent, and awareness is the key.
Please call New Life House at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected] with any questions regarding enabling, addiction, or sobriety, and we can help to get you and your family on the path to recovery!