How to stop enabling your grown child (A guide)

In this blog post, we discuss how to stop enabling your grown child.

We also presented a few modern parenting tips for parents and their adult children.

What does it mean to enable your grown child?

The relationship between parents and their adult children is a long-term relationship that has certainly gone through a multitude of stages and experiences.

And as in any relationship, experiences, positive or negative, influence the interaction between the two.

In the first years of life, children add everything they learn in the interaction with their parents, the environment, and other people in their lives.

However, the most important learning relationship for children becomes the relationship with their parents. 

To stop enabling your grown child, you must first realize that your child is no longer small and helpless.

Your child has become an adult, who has his own dreams, desires, hopes. An adult who has to make his own mistakes, learn his own life lessons. 

By enabling your grown child, you steal his freedom to think and act, even if you think you are just protecting him.

Although there is nothing wrong in helping your child financially, morally, supporting him spiritually, when he becomes an adult it is necessary to let him follow his own path in life, even if you do not agree with what he wants to do and you know he’s going to suffer.

If you are an adult parent and you are afraid to let your child make decisions for fear that he will make mistakes and suffer unpleasant consequences, it means that you are not too sure about the work you have done so far.

If you always know the best decision, and your child is always wrong, think… what does that say about you?

If the fact that your child, now an adult, makes his own life, makes his own decisions and does not consult you at every step, makes you think that you no longer have a purpose in life, it is a bit sad. 

This means that until now you have lived mostly, if not exclusively, only in the role of a parent. 

And now that your child is all grown up, it is difficult for you to find another meaning to live, and your suffering will be redirected towards your child. 

If you have a grown child but you don’t trust him and you tell him at the age of 25 or 30 that “I am the mother, you the child, I know better” you should know you are doing more damage than good. 

What this says about you is that you don’t give your child wings to fly, you are keeping him on the ground, close to you.

This means that you have made your child an enchanted mirror in which you always see yourself better, more beautiful. 

This does not mean that you do not love your child, you do love him, but unfortunately, your own wounds and traumas prevent you from being a support for your child.

And if that’s what your parents told you, dear adult, I’m really sorry for what you feel: difficulty making decisions, inability to feel safe and peaceful, desire to live independently, and the inability to break up from your parents. 

What does it mean to have a good relationship with your grown child

There are a few things parents need to keep in mind. There are 2 essential aspects, in my opinion, for a good relationship: safety (I am not judged, criticized, rejected, abandoned, verbally and/or emotionally assaulted, controlled, etc.) and empathy (defined as the ability to understand that I am the center of the universe and so is the other / child, paraphrasing Professor Kent Hoffman)

Security, as well as empathy, gives the parent the freedom to see the child different from himself; and so that he can see and hear the child’s points of view, which, although they may be different and do not resonate with the parent’s own beliefs, he can accept them. 

At the same time, the safety and empathy of the parent offer the child (small but also adult) one of the most satisfying human experiences: that of being seen and accepted.

As Denis Waitley said – “Let’s listen with our hearts but also with our minds, with curiosity when they talk about their dreams, needs, hopes, fears, plans. Listen to your children’s wishes, encourage them, and then give them the autonomy to make their own decisions.”

How to manage communication problems with your grown child

Questions often arise about optimizing communication in parent-child relationships.

And of course, there are tools and techniques that can help; good communication can optimize the relationship but at the same time good communication is the consequence of a good relationship.

So, I think it’s important to look at things from both perspectives

Discussions should be about the here and now, about the present and not about all the things that have happened or not during the relationship; Many conflicts, which seem to start from a “communication problem”, are supported by bringing the old unresolved “problems” into the present discussion, deepening the ruptures even further.

Always talk about your needs and not about what the other person did or didn’t do; for example: “I would need you to keep a calm tone“, instead of “you always raise your voice” or “don’t scream, don’t disrespect me“.

Scheduling discussions on sensitive topics helps both participants to be prepared both emotionally and with arguments for a topic that may be unpleasant or uncomfortable.

Practicing the ability to listen will help a lot in communication; it helps to listen to both yourself (how you feel at the moment, what your thoughts are, what you would like to do/say now), and the person in front of you. 

Verify the information; often, what is transmitted by the transmitter reaches the receiver differently. This is because of the mental filters we have.

What will help you is to validate with the interlocutor what you have understood so that you can be sure that the information reached you is correct. 

Where does the “duty” to financially help our children end?

The aspect of the financial help offered by the parent to the child is a much influenced cultural-historical subject. 

There are perhaps some recommendations on how parents can help their children, even longitudinal studies that analyze the benefits of financial aid: parents support their children so that later, in old age, the roles change and adult children help parents.

And in my opinion, any choice is healthy, as long as it is balanced and there are no other things behind it and the financial relationship has a strictly financial role.

Here we can think about the situation in which parents support their children and unconsciously support their dependence, lack of self-confidence, therefore enabling them.

Some unhealthy behaviors of the parent-child adult financial aid relationship that can have negative effects in different areas of their lives:

– The financial help that the parent offers to the child maintains his lack of financial autonomy (the help that I offer you is enough so that you do not make an extra effort to become financially autonomous)

– The help provided by the parent keeps them in an unhealthy way dependent on the parent

– Financial support is used as a way to control the life of the adult child (if I pay the kindergarten for your children, I can decide what their schedule is; as long as you receive financial support from us, we expect to see you every weekend)

– The financial support maintains the adult child’s subjugation to the parent (I can’t tell him anything about his behavior because otherwise he won’t give me money and I can’t support myself)

At what age should your parents stop supporting you?

The age when your parents should stop supporting you share different opinions and will vary according to your own personal circumstances.

However, some experts believe parents should encourage financial independence between the ages of 18 to 22, others believe the goal should be 25.

Most parents have set their own age range based on their own experience, the best idea is to start gradually.

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Conclusions

In this blog post, we discussed how to stop enabling your grown child. We also presented a few modern parenting tips for parents and their adult children.

I conclude by urging parents of young children to reflect on two issues: how would you have liked your parents to treat you?

How do you build a healthy relationship with your children from now until adulthood? 

Children grow incredibly fast and we need to learn how to build a healthy relationship with them not only when they are small and dependent on us.

But a healthy, resourceful relationship even when they are big and independent. A relationship from which he can leave, but we still want to return.

“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that is what the child will always need can hit hard.” – Sloan Wilson

FAQ on How to stop enabling your grown child

At what age should your parents stop supporting you?

The age that your parents should stop supporting you varies across each family.

It is fair to say, however, that by age 25-27 kids should be able to live independently, to support themselves morally and financially. 

Should a grown child pay rent?

A child should pay rent at least a small amount so that it covers at least the household bills.

Paying a small amount of rent teaches responsibility and financial thinking. 

What is tough love parenting?

Tough love parenting is a style of parenting that does not allow the child to do exactly what he wants.

This style of parenting is not enabling, quite the opposite.

What is the difference between helping and enabling?

The difference between enabling and helping is that when you help someone, you are basically doing something for someone who can’t handle it on their own.

Enabling, on the other hand, means doing something in someone else’s place, who was perfectly capable of doing it alone in the first place.

How do you deal with an enabler?

To deal with an enabler you have to set clear boundaries.

Sometimes it may be difficult to do this if we are talking about a family member, but it is mandatory for your own good.

What are the 4 types of parenting styles?t

The 4 types of parenting styles are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, authoritative.

Further reading

  1. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide
  2. Mindful Parenting in a Chaotic World: Effective Strategies to Stay Centered at Home and On-The-Go 
  3. Modern Attachment Parenting: The Comprehensive Guide to Raising a Secure Child
  4. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
  5. No-Drama Discipline: the bestselling parenting guide to nurturing your child’s developing mind 
  6. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues

Relationship counselling

  • If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.

LGBTQ issues

If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.

References

  1. Denis Waitley, Raising Confident Kids
  1. Kent Hoffman, Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore

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