Why is it So Easy for a Parent to Enable Addiction?

Why is it So Easy for a Parent to Enable Addiction?

The responsibility lies in parent’s laps to prepare children for life. Naturally parents want the best for kids but being successful and happy are not always possible as life has its ups and downs. Parents who enable can make a situation worse for a child. Learn about what enabling is, how it begins and how to explore options to support a teen with healthy boundaries.


Why Parents Enable

When a child grows up and develops addiction to drugs or alcohol, the parents may feel like a failure. To help the child overcome addiction, enabling behaviors may begin to support the child but it is not really in the child’s best interest.


What is Enabling

Enabling is when a person does something for the individual with addiction that the person should do on one’s own. When parents enable, it is an attempt to protect the child from being hurt or destroying the child’s own future. Shielding the child from consequences of negative actions may actually make the problem grow larger.


How it Happens

Below are some of the common ways and examples of enabling behaviors parents use to help a child with addiction:

  • Allowing the child to live at home after age 18 even though the person is not making any contributions to the household
  • Paying for the child’s rent or mortgage so the child won’t end up homeless. Financial responsibility needs to rest in the hands of the person with addiction
  • Paying bills on behalf of the person with addiction so the car, phone, cable, electricity remains in good standing.
  • Bailing the child out of jail or vouching for the child in court. No parent wants to see a child locked up behind bars. Sometimes this can help save a person with addiction’s life rather than harm the child. Negative consequences sometimes need to be felt in order to help the child see the true impact of one’s behavior.


How to Stop Enabling Behavior

Parents can stop enabling behavior by trying to understand the nature of addiction. The child will continue to use drugs or alcohol in spite of negative consequences. Stigma surrounds addiction which may be embarrassing or shameful but parents must not continue enabling if a child is to grow up and learn from mistakes.


The first step to helping a child with addiction is to gain knowledge. Be armed with knowledge to face the battle of addiction. Learn as much as possible to help the child but know that the work cannot be done for that child. Parents must focus on recovery as well from enabling behavior. Attending family recovery meetings can help parents make  healthy changes in the family dynamic. The person may also gain strength and knowledge as well as support needed to get through tough times ahead.


Parents often have questions about how to help a child with addiction. If your child is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, The Villa is equipped with resources and information to help you make an informed decision about next steps. Call us to find out how we can help you implement a plan for positive change.