When you love someone you don’t want to see them hurt, you desire to help them.
That “help” is not always the best thing for them. Or you.
Enabling is selfish, it’s not love.
We enable others when we aren’t looking at the big picture. When we compromise our values and morals to save them from themselves. Whether it’s as simple as covering for someone at work or more complicated like giving an addict money to bail them out of some jam…it is absolutely not helping them, or you.
Love means having boundaries, staying true to yourself, seeing the real picture, and keeping the door open for when others want to join you.
We selfishly enable people for a host of reasons….to make them happy, so they don’t get mad, so they don’t get in trouble, to keep the peace.
What peace are you keeping?
In the case of parenting it is super hard sometimes.
We want our children to succeed. We don’t want them to suffer.
We also want them to be functional members of society and that means taking responsibility for their own actions.
Not covering them up.
My oldest son was brought home by the police when he was 15. Caught with a bunch of friends having broken into a community pool and swimming in the middle night….with backpacks of stolen alcohol from home. When the officer showed up at the door, with my son sheepishly behind him, he said that this type of infraction would typically involve a night at the local jail.
I told the officer to take him to jail then. He did the crime, he can do the time.
Both my son and the officer looked at me like I was nuts.
I meant every word.
A night in jail wasn’t going to kill him, it was the price he had to pay for his actions. Saving him from the consequences was teaching him that the rules didn’t apply to him, that he was not responsible for his own behavior, and that other people would bail him out.
Now that night the officer left him with me at home, he didn’t wish to take him into custody, and my son remained at home to wait out his time until court.
It was a rough time for sure.
Saving him from all of it by pulling strings, covering up, asking for favors – would have spared him the uncomfortable gift of growth.
It took a while for his teenage mind to grasp the cause and effect of his choices. The power he had to shape his future, and the reality that it was his to craft.
During that time there was a lot of boundary testing, anxious feelings, hurt, and uncertainty.
The outcome was worth it, 1000 times over.
I see others who have grown up without true love, given instead an enabling & selfish love – they play victim more often than not, responsibly is an afterthought, and instant gratification rules the day. People pleasers to the max, very caught up in appearances over substance.
Perhaps they are victims after all. Being robbed of the experience of growing up by being coddled and praised for outrageous behaviors without any moral guidance, they then pass this culture on, obliviously, to others.
It’s a sad cycle.
True love is honest. It’s raw. You can count on it. Based in reality it is like Miracle Grow for people….turning budding seedlings into mighty oaks.
It’s simple, not easy. It’s important. It’s fundamental.
I wish to love all in my life in this way.
I admit I have a hard time sometimes.
I’ve rationalized, made excuses, and turned a blind eye. All done thinking I was protecting and supporting, when in reality I was enabling while crushing my soul to save my ego.
Drawing boundaries was hard. Having them with grace proved even more difficult. Loving someone and giving them space to be them, when it very well might mean they choose a space you are not in, is scary af.
It’s also necessary for survival.
I’m not being over dramatic here.
Codependency and addiction kill – typically slowly and painfully.
Ignorance is not bliss. Look at all of the school shootings – there are troubled children out there who need guidance – not gadgets.
Spend time with your children, choose wisely those you spend time with, respect yourself and others.
More love, less enabling.