How do you help a mother who enables their child way too much, and even into their adult years?
If a mother enables there child by bailing them out of difficult situations well into their 30's, how do you help them realize they need to stop? What if said child/adult is now incapable of supporting themselves?
People have to be very careful about using words like "enable" because sometimes what appears to be "enabling" to one person really isn't that at all. Sometimes a person is going to do something regardless of who appears to "enable" and who doesn't. Also, a problem can be when the observer doesn't understand what, exactly, the person who appears to be "enabling" is faced with.
I had a friend who had a large family. One of her teen daughters didn't do well in school in the early years, ended up going to vocational school (where the kids "weren't known for" being "the biggest lovers of school in the world"), and eventually ended up being quite the "handful" as a teen. The mother said how difficult it was for her to deal with having so many people tell her to "just kick her out of the house" and "don't enable her bad behavior". The mother said to me, "What people don't understand is that if I kick her out of the house I'll be sending her straight to the very people who have influenced her, who support her bad behavior (because they do the very same things), and who will encourage her to keep doing all those things and thinking that "everyone" does them." The mother said, "At least if I'm close enough in her life that I stand some chance of still influencing her, maybe that's better than having her not ever have anyone try to be a better influence." The mother and her daughter got through those years. I don't know who is scarred or who isn't, but the daughter eventually finished her education/training, got married, and had her family.
I know someone else who tried doing the same kind of thing with their drug-addicted son, and the best he ever got was "doing OK for x amount of time until he relapsed". This went on until his thirties. Eventually, things got so out-of-control that he ended up out of the house and living on the streets as an addict (or else staying in shelters with a bunch of other substances abusers and street-dwellers).
A person would have to have raised at least one child (but more would be better) to be in his/her twenties/thirties, or older to understand why some parents won't give up on,, or kick out, some grown kids who "have issues". If there's one thing I've learned as the decades have gone on, it's that we understand so much more with time and experience (either our own or else exposure to the experiences of friends and family members) than we ever did without it. "Lesser of two evils" sometimes looks like enabling.
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