Are you helping or enabling your adult child?

While our children will always be our children, whatever their age, as parents, it is easy to lose ourselves in being parents. This can sometimes mean we forget who we are as individuals. Living our lives through our adult child does not make for a healthy relationship.

We need to let go of our adult child.

Over time and often due to learnt behaviour, parents may find that they are doing all the chores in the house. They may find that they are funding many of the needs or wants expected by their adult child. Sometimes the adult child becomes so dependant that they prefer to stay financially and socially reliant upon their parents. Plenty of children refuse to grow up and become comfortably settled if the parent continues to meet all their needs.

It is important to act like adults ourselves. We need to recognise that the adult child is an adult too. It is important to encourage independence and separation. We do this by asking them what they want to do and listen to what they have to say.

In the world of therapy, enabling someone to do something is more than helping someone out: it is doing something for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves.

Therapy can give us much needed space in our often busy lives to ask some questions of ourselves.

One simple but important question we can ask ourselves when wondering if we are enabling or helping our adult child is: 'does my adult child still need me to do things for them?'

The therapeutic process can be an opportunity to be honest with ourselves. We cannot expect our adult children to become independent and confident human beings if we continue to enable them. Through therapy, we can learn how to change our own behaviour and stop planning our adult child's life for them; learn how to stop giving constant advice on how to lead their lives.

We can learn, above all, if we are to have a healthy relationship with our adult child, then we need to let go and accept that our adult child has grown up and that they have a life and mind of their own.

Just like we have.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Walsall, Staffordshire, WS6
Written by Lyn Reed, MA,MBACP,Pro.Adv.Dip.PC, Pgd.Cert. in Supervision
Walsall, Staffordshire, WS6

I offer a supportive, confidential therapy service especially for those living with anxiety and stress. I have acquired considerable expertise and knowledge having worked in the social care field for many years. Having experienced ups and downs myself, I understand life's road can be rocky and therapy often helps us to discover a new way.

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