Step back for a moment and observe your relationship with your teenager.
Are you often taking over their responsibilities – their chores? Do you consistently give in to their whining or bad attitude? Or ignore their bad behavior altogether? Are you giving them money after they already spent all their allowance? Do you lie or cover up for them so they don’t get in trouble at school?
If so, you are actually enabling your teen’s bad behavior.
“Me?” you might say. – Yes, you.
Because enabling means that a parent – though maybe well-meaning – allows or encourages their child’s irresponsible, inappropriate, and even destructive or dangerous behavior.
When you continuously rescue your teen from their problems and don’t let them feel the consequences of their negative behavior, you’ve gone far beyond being protective. You’re actually damaging them.
It’s time you stop enabling!
6 Important Reasons to Stop Enabling Your Teen
1. Enabling is not loving.
Think about it! Is it really loving to let your teen keep depending on you to rescue them? You just keep the bad behavior going. What will happen when they become an adult? Would they have acquired the skills to be successful? – Hardly.
The best way to prepare your teenager for adulthood is to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. It’s not being cruel! It will empower them to make their own choices – the right choices.
2. Enabling undermines your teen’s belief in their own abilities.
You’ve probably started your enabling behavior for good reasons. Maybe you were worried about what would happen if you didn’t “help out.” Then, you started making more and more excuses like “she’s always had trouble with math” or “he had a long practice this evening.”
The problem is, when you do more and more for your teen, you’re actually sending them the message that you don’t believe in their abilities. In turn, your teen may lose faith in their abilities, too.
3. Enabling doesn’t encourage your teen to have respect for you.
Children feel loved and secure when they’re raised within a well-defined and consistent structure at home. When you let your teenager get away with bad behavior, they may become confused. They may even feel unsafe and lose trust in you. Their respect for you plummets. Subsequently, they may act out even more, perhaps in very abusive ways.
4. Enabling lowers your self-respect.
But not only your teen’s respect for you can wane – your own self-respect can suffer. It’s hard to respect yourself when you don’t do what you know is right. The only way to get that self-respect back is to step up and make changes – one at a time.
5. Enabling fulfills your own need – not your teen’s.
This may be a hard truth to face but by enabling your teen you only give yourself what you need – staying within your comfort zone. Consider: If you start setting boundaries, will it be harder for you or them? – Be honest. It’s so much easier to enable, isn’t it?
However, by taking it easy you’re not giving your teen what they need – you give them what they want. That’s not helpful at all! You have to be a role model, step out of your comfort zone, and start setting boundaries. It’s the only way to help your teen become a healthy adult.
6. Enabling doesn’t help you control your teen.
The only person you can control is yourself. But you can certainly teach your teenager. You set boundaries, and you enforce them. They have to choose if they want to respect them or experience the consequences. It teaches them responsibility.