Enabling Problem

by Sharon

I don't know the difference between helping and enabling.

I get caught off guard all the time. How can I be a good supportive parent, willing to help my son get straight, get a job, get some training etc. without falling for his manipulation and lies? He has (last time) come to me, saying he has hit bottom and he can't take it any more. He said he wants help, a life, his family, a job, a home, a wife and children.

I let him move back in and he slept for 2 days. I woke him up and told him it was time to get up, get dressed and start a plan. He got up and left!!!

He begs me to help, then gets angry and finally just takes off and goes to stores, etc. and steals and does what he wants.

I love him. Please help me. How do I know the difference between helping and enabling and how do I stop?


Hi Sharon,

You must remind yourself that being a good supportive parent has nothing to do with giving help. Help has to be warranted. So if someone can’t do something for themselves, (ex. a small child) you can help. However, in the case of your son, he has to be accountable. Your son needs to get back on track, but he has to be the one to do it, otherwise you’re enabling. Addicts will lie and manipulate to get what they want and that’s why you have to stand firm and not be manipulated.

Tell him you love him and you’ll be there for him, but first he must work on his issues. Tell him to go to AA, NA or other 12 step programs, get a sponsor and when you see he's turning himself around, you'll help him if necessary.

It’s because you love him that you have to stand firm. Only the addict can do anything about their addiction so give him no other option but to get help.

This is very hard for any parent to do, but if you go to Al-Anon meetings, the members will be supportive and help you stay strong.

All the best


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