Parental Enabling – Avoiding The Parent/Child Trap

by Mel Stringer
May 11, 2015

Jane Dee Hull, former Governor of Arizona and elementary school teacher once said,

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”

The majority of parents want to be a force for good in their children’s lives. Parents of addicts are no different in this regard. Stuck in a cycle of addiction and dependency the parents’ natural urge is to swoop in and fix things. The problem is that many parents in this situation just don’t know what to do for the best. In the process of trying to help, these well-intentioned parents sometimes become enablers for their children’s destructive behavior. While there should never be a limit to the love of a parent for a child, the distress caused by having an addict for a son or daughter can cloud the judgment of even the most sensible parent. The help and support these parents provide can actually facilitate the drug habit. By taking action to limit the impact of the addict’s problem on their day to day life, parents can deprive the child of seeing and experiencing the harshest aspects of their substance abuse. Swedish feminist writer Ellen Key once wisely advised that,

“At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from the roses.”

This article provides a compelling insight into how parental support which effectively removes the thorns of substance abuse can inadvertently enable addiction to continue. It sets out how society and individuals can avoid this trap and develop strategies for dealing with teens trapped by addiction.