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Signs Parents Are Enabling Teens
Enabling is what parents to do help spare their children from some of the daily heartaches that can occur as a teenager.
Enabling is meant as a well-intentioned means to protect one’s child by allowing them to engage in behaviors that are irresponsible, destructive, inappropriate and/ or dangerous. Every young person is different and will test out various methods to get what he or she wants on his or her parents. In some cases, it may be challenging to know if you are enabling your child. Common examples of enabling behaviors that may be exhibited by parents include:
- Constantly making excuses for your child’s bad behavior.
- Completing your teen’s homework assignment for them.
- Not sticking to the limits, you have set for your child.
- Giving in to your teen’s tantrums or whining.
- Lying on behalf of your teen so they can avoid punishment or consequences for their actions.
It may be difficult to recognize or admit to yourself if you are engaging in enabling behaviors. However, the sooner you shift your enabling to empowering, the better off your child will be.
Tips to Stop Enabling
Teenagers need to understand that their actions have consequences. This is true for all stages of life. I have outlined some tips to help you avoid enabling your teenager:
- Give your teen the opportunity to fix his or her own problems. Do not try to fix your teenager’s problem for them. It is important to be a support system for them and allow them to talk to you, if they want to, but give them the chance to brainstorm solutions and implement them on their own.
- Do not give in to a tantrum. Teenagers will do everything they can to get what they want, which includes resorting to old behaviors like throwing tantrums. Do not let a tantrum phase you, and do not give in.
- Model honesty. Do not lie for your child or make excuses to cover up their choices.
- Empower your teenager. Make sure you tell your teenager that they are fully equipped to manage and overcome challenges that come their way. Do not be stingy with compliments.
- Follow through on consequences. It is important for teenagers to have limits set and for parents to expect their teenager to respect the limits. Establish clear consequences for breaking rules and consistently follow through on them.
Always remember that you are the adult, and you must help your child to learn how to manage difficult experiences on his or her own. If you continue to do everything for them and keep trying to manage their pain, you are not adequately teaching them how to live an authentic independent life.
It is instinctive behavior to try to shield your child from pain but going overboard and enabling can cause a different set of challenges for your child. Adolescence is a time of growth and maturation. Allowing your child to experience some of the pain that comes with adolescence is actually helping to prepare them for adulthood. It is important to empower your child and help them through experiencing the pains that are integral to growing up as a source of support, not as an enabler allowing them to avoid the inevitable. There is no guidebook for parenting. Some situations are tricky to navigate, and there is no shame in asking for professional guidance to learn how to best support your teenager.
For Information and Support
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