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Avoid Co-dependency with Your Family Members: Empower, Don’t Enable, Those You Love

Published by Minh Grzyb

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Prime time television and other media has been full of information about problems faced co-dependency relationships, alcoholism, and people needing help with codependency.

Understanding Roots of Addictive Behavior

People are becoming more aware that addictive behaviors can start as patterns early in life. Enabling tendencies are firmly planted in our culture. Protection and covering for others is intertwined with the very definition of love. The tacit message is all around in people’s perceptions of parenting, friendship, and intimate relationships.

Enabling Can Start at Home

Enabling can be loosely defined as covering for another’s behavior at the expense of oneself or the long-term needs of that particular loved one. Like most habits, the seeds for these pre-addictive behaviors may start early in life.

It has been clearly verbalized by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous on the aftermath side of things. Yet there is reason to explore that such habits don’t just happen. They usually start earlier than many people realize.

Prevention of Co-dependency

Consider the parent who wants to help their offspring have a good day, so they protectively do for the child when doing with the child would be more help. In addition, many fall into compelling big kids to help little kids, even when they don’t need help. Such “helpfulness” can send the message that the little kid is unable to manage without help, fostering habits which become tapes played out again and again in future relationships of both parties.

Caring adults also answer for their children rather than going through the agony of awaiting the child’s answer, thus stunting possible growth in both confidence and skills. As such times, it would be better to accept imperfect answers from the child than to answer for the child. Answering for children can deprive them from developing habits of independence at an early age.

Sometimes it is easier to enable loved ones by doing too much for them since there is an immediate satisfaction for both parties. However, in the long run, taking the time to develop independence while patiently encouraging makes great progress in prevention of co-dependency.

Enabling as Part of Society’s Culture

Children are taught early on the idea that to be kind, one must always do for others. An ill-fated conclusion can be drawn during the formative years and applied to future relationships. Thereafter, overprotection of ones considered weaker continues sending them the message that they can never be strong enough to manage, thereby pushing them toward co-dependency.

It has been said down through the ages that it is better to teach a person to plant a seed than to just feed the person an immediately satisfying supper. This can apply equally to society and personal interactions. People often choose the immediate gratification over the long-term project, thus perpetuating problems like those seen in current financial challenges.

Empowering as an Investment in the Future

People who appreciate the value of a good investment would agree with the wisdom of empowering rather than lapsing into the abyss of co-dependency by enabling. Take the time to let children develop skills by cheer-leading and consulting rather than directing and covering for them.

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