The Tragedy Of The Enabling Parent
I have received a mountain of email asking me to write more on one particular issue in the life of the drug addict and his or her family.
The issue is that of strife in the family due to one parent taking on the role of the enabler while the other family members have stopped enabling. This is a very bad place to be. The addict will ensnare the enabling parent by insisting on his "help" no matter what the cost to the rest of the family or your bank account. You should know that if an addict can get his way, he will not care how it will complicate your life, marriage, or your relationship with your other children. Many addicts play one parent against the other in order to get their way. This is something you must realize and take steps to stop if it is already wreaking havoc in your life.
The Enabling Parent causes strife and grief in the lives of many
The main theme of most of the mail I've received on this subject is as follows:
"I have a brother who is addicted to drugs, me and my mother have told my dad that he must stop enabling my brother's behavior. We have told him the dangers, etc.. but he refuses to stop enabling him because he says my brother would not have anyone else to help him and that he will not turn his back on his son". He pays his bills, gives him money and bails him out of jail every time.
Can you please help me, my dad just won't listen?
The father, the enabling parent in this situation, along with other family members are the only ones who are truly ABLE to do something since the addict himself will not.
Here we have the mother and sister of the addict who have already realized that enabling is not helping the addict. The dad on the other hand is still caught in the web of enabling.
What can the distraught family members do who struggle to get through to the enabling dad?
The truth is always the best and it is no exception in this case. They must make sure they have faced the enabling dad with that truth. They must tell him how his behavior is ultimately pushing the addict on into deeper addiction by taking care of the addicted son's needs and worsening it by giving him the money or resources to get more drugs. They must tell the enabling dad that he is putting up a barrier that prevents his addicted son from facing consequences that we ALL must face as a result of our wrongdoing in this life. They must tell him that taking care of every need his addicted son has is getting in God's way and blocking his son from hitting rock bottom. The enabling dad is guilty of hurting his addicted son, yet he believes he's helping him.
What can the father do if he wants to do right by his addicted son?
Stop pushing the addicted son toward deeper addiction by giving him money, paying his bills, etc.
Who is the enabling dad hurting in this saga?
The answer is not only his addicted son, read on:
1. He is hurting his addicted son by enabling him to continue his life of addiction.
2. He is hurting his daughter by coddling and enabling the addict brother. The father is showing his daughter who is not addicted, that's it's ok to do wrong and not ever suffer consequences. He's showing the daughter that anything her brother wants, he gets. He is showing his daughter that he is a pushover and is naive and gullible in the extreme and is worthy of being used, abused and manipulated.
3. He is hurting his wife. Many fights and much strife has abided in the households of those who have addicted children. In this situation, the wife sees what is going on and has stopped enabling her addicted son while the dad continues bending over backwards in order to supply everything his addicted son desires.
The very focus of this family is geared toward the addicted child.
4. The enabling dad is hurting himself. We all have opinions and views of our family members, our views are based upon what they believe, do and say. In this situation, the father who is enabling is viewed poorly by his addicted son, even though he provides the son everything and denies him nothing. Make no mistake, the addict son views the enabling dad as weak and someone worthy to be conned and manipulated. The daughter sees her father in the same light. The wife views her husband the same as the daughter does. Yes, in this situation, the only one thinking he is doing his addicted son a great service is the enabling dad.
Addicts Look For Anyone To Use
While an addict has anyone taking care of the responsibilities that he himself should be taking care of, he will NEVER get better. Why would he? He has the best of both worlds. He does not have to work and he does not have to be RESPONSIBLE for anything he needs to live this life. He has already learned how to WORK his family over to such a great extent that he has no need to put forth an ounce of effort to take care of himself!
Why else should the enabling father say NO to his drug addict son?
Bad behavior such as: lying, stealing and manipulating is not something that we should allow from our family members. Just because we love them and they are family does NOT give them the right to use, abuse, and manipulate us.
God himself and Jesus Christ our Savior does not want this for us. For us to by lied to, manipulated or used by a family member is not God's will for our lives!
In fact, our family members should be the very ones who can be counted on to treat us with respect, loyalty, love and honesty.
Most parents do not want to face the truth that their addicted child is blatantly using them and conning them. Even though they may have a sense this is what's going on, they choose to believe otherwise.
Why does the enabling parent keep this up?
At the heart of enabling, there is a feeling that just one more time of helping the addict will make all the difference... What does this mean? The enabling parent feels that THIS TIME things will be different. "If I just help them out this one LAST time".
I have known addicts who are so accustomed to having their enabling parent tell them, "This is the last time I help you", that their response is a muffled "Yeah Right". The response is as if to say, "I know you don't mean a word of it. You'll ALWAYS do what I want you to do, your actions so far have shown it.... so get off my back"!
When an enabling parent gives out warnings such as the one above, this is like a joke to the drug addicted child. A running joke that is, because by this time the enabling parent's "warnings" have went on for years. Children LEARN from experience what they can get by with, and a drug addicted person is like a cunning, manipulative child who learns from watching his enabling parent give into his every whim. The enabling parent simply must come to this realization.
Why does the enabling parent believe their addicted child and continue enabling them?
The parent does this because they have been lied to all along by their addicted child. An addict will say to their enabling parent that they:
1. are currently looking for rehabs
2. have a good lead on a great job
3. things are definitely looking up for them and they are SO glad that their mom or dad has not given up on them like everyone else has!
These words are intended to play on the sympathy of the enabling parent.
This is just stringing the enabling parent along and the addicted child knows what the parent wants to hear, so that is what he tells him or her.