As someone who has had experience with enabling parents, I understand the fact that love can sometimes get in the way of helping a son who is struggling with addiction. Behaviors that seem to be coming from the heart could actually be the very ones that are keeping your son from making a change.
What’s the difference between enabling and helping?
My parents did not grow up wealthy. They earned and worked hard for everything they currently have. Their childhoods were harder than mine. They wanted to make sure that I never had to go through what they went through. From early on, my parents did everything for me. They got me what I wanted when I wanted it. Everything was handed to me on a silver platter. As my addiction started to progress in my highschool/college years, I was bailed out of every troubling situation, including multiple arrests. I always seemed to get a reward at the end of each apparent punishment. I was never taught the value of earning things for myself, nor was I taught how to take full responsibility for my actions. I was given money and material objects whenever I asked. I was a master manipulator. Everything my parents did was out of love. They simply did not understand how it was destroying my life. It wasn’t until I was completely cut off financially, and sent out to a state on the other side of the country, that I began to start building a life for myself. My parents don’t give me things like they used to, and I actually have a sense of autonomy behind my entire life these days.
I can understand how difficult this can be for parents who just want to show their kids love. I’ve heard of parents telling their kids they’ll buy them a car after treatment, or they’ll help them get their own apartment. What these parents don’t understand is the fact that these actions keep their children sick. These actions disallow the child to be self-reliant, and encourage them to remain codependent. If your son remains codependent, he will psychologically collapse when he doesn’t have mom or dad to run to for help. A helpful tool to stop this from happening is to learn how to set boundaries, which are defined and enforced clearly.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474