Tough Love: Enabling Parents of Addicts/Alcoholics
From my perspective of once being in the position of trying to manipulate, making excuses or lie to prolong getting the help I knew I needed. To also witnessing this happening when adult children lie, manipulate and make every excuse as to why they are now ”cured” and don’t need any help or counselling. It breaks my heart seeing these “kids” convince their parents to rescue them again or “bail” them out of rehab. Tough love is sometimes neccesary. Many of these parents have spent a lot of emotional and financial effort to give their child a chance at getting professional help and are trying to save their children’s lives.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Is your child acting like they are entitled to things or your money, or demanding things?
- Do you feel like you are living from crisis to crisis with your child?
- Are you sacrificing too much while your child takes no responsibility?
Parents face a difficult situation when trying to figure out how to help their children with their addiction issues. We all want to help our loved ones through their struggles in life, but it is often hard for a parent to understand the difference between helping or enabling. Enabling is helping too much and allows the destructive behaviour to continue, fixing problems for others that they could do themselves and doesn’t allow the child to grow or gain responsibility. Tough love is quite often the only way to save your child’s life.
As the child (often adult children) progress into the grips of addiction the lies and manipulation increase. They will make their parents feel shame or guilt and use every excuse to try and get you to “help” them. Giving them money and absorbing the consequences of the addicts actions just prolongs active addiction and delays the addict from accepting the help that would truly benefit them.
What can you as an enabling parent do?
- Tough Love
- Don’t be persuaded by the lies, manipulation, excuses or stories your child makes up.
- Loving your child doesn’t mean you can’t say “no”
- Offer helpful options such as a counsellor, 12 step meetings or possibly an addiction treatment centre.
- Realize that your child may say and do things to hurt you, but don’t give in.
It may feel like you are the only ones in this situation but your not alone. There are support groups available to help you through these difficult times and know that it isn’t you, its the addiction taking over your child. Tough love may be the best option.