It is natural to struggle to know the next steps when our loved ones are struggling. You may see your daughter, whom you love, engaging in behavior that is harmful to herself, and you can feel stuck. Sometimes when we get caught up in our worry and our love, we might find ourselves becoming complacent or unintentionally enabling unhealthy behavior. For this reason, it is important to work toward eliminating enabling.
When enabling happens, it is important to recognize the situation for what it is. Enabling your daughter’s negative and addictive behavior can be dangerous for her progress and her long-term recovery. The healthiest thing for your relationship is to learn to stop enabling and work to set boundaries with your daughter. It doesn’t mean being a strong hand, but rather a guiding force for the struggles that can come with addiction. Clearview Girls Academy asserts that if you can do this, it will lead to a healthier life for your daughter and you.
What Is Enabling?
The National Center for PTSD provides an overview of enabling behaviors in guardians and caregivers. The center explains, “Sometimes family members help, rescue, support, or protect their loved one from facing the negative consequences of their substance use. For example, giving them money, lying for them, or paying their bills. These are called ‘enabling behaviors’ or ‘enabling.’” As that quote shows, enabling happens when we let our care and protective instincts take over when trying to help our loved ones.
It can be incredibly hard to see our daughters suffer, and we may feel that we can help shoulder the burden. This leads to struggling to maintain boundaries and strength against our daughter’s addictive or destructive behaviors. There is nothing wrong with loving without limit, but to help your daughter, you often have to take a step back.
How Enabling Is Harmful
Enabling your daughter’s addictive and negative behavior is harmful because it perpetuates negative cycles. This behavior allows your daughter to continue her actions without facing the full consequences. While it is natural to want to protect your loved ones, they must learn and experience some things as well.
Getting your daughter help is one of the steps you can take during this difficult journey. Another goal should be stopping any enabling behavior you see within yourself. Often these behaviors devolve into making excuses for someone’s negative behavior and taking on the burden related to it.
How Enabling Affects the Parent or Guardian
While enabling behaviors are harmful to your daughter, they are also harmful to you as the parent, guardian, or caretaker. These behaviors can allow your daughter to wear you down and take advantage of you. As her guardian, it is natural to have a loving and care-filled relationship. However, if you are constantly being worn down, the addiction can begin to affect your mental health too.
If you think there’s a possibility of enabling behavior between you and your daughter, the most important thing is to recognize it and work to avoid it. This can mean being there for your daughter. Also, it can mean referring her to a professional when things become too much to handle. The work of avoiding enabling can also mean working to recognize what triggers you to enable her. Once you identify your triggers, you can work through them with your daughter’s care team.
A care team can be anything from a therapist and a support group, to a more regimented care team at a treatment facility. At Clearview Girls Academy, we set up a strong team to work alongside your daughter as she goes through recovery. We are therapeutically accredited to work alongside your daughter. Working alongside the parents and guardians also helps ensure success at home.
Taking the Long View
Eliminating enabling behavior doesn’t mean not taking care of your daughter. Refraining from enabling is simply another way to care for her and work to better her life experience. When you eliminate enabling behaviors with your daughter it may cause her to get angry. In the long run, however, this will be more healthy for her and help her reach sobriety and recovery.
It is important to stop enabling negative behavior in your daughter as soon as you can. This may mean allowing your daughter to experience the negative effects of her actions. It means working to support her, but not making excuses for her. Stopping enabling is about learning a new way to care for her while she goes through addiction and the process of recovery.
The Importance of Boundaries While Eliminating Enabling
When you work through the process of eliminating enabling behaviors, you may wonder what the next steps are. The most important process at this moment is to work to set healthy and firm boundaries with your daughter. Boundaries are there to protect both her and you. These boundaries also can provide a guideline for healthy actions in each situation.
Boundaries will help show your daughter the acceptable next options. These limits can make it so she isn’t always leaning on her parents to fix situations. This will help her gain independence and become stronger in her therapeutic tools. Boundaries can also help strengthen the relationship between you.
In the long run, boundaries will maintain safety for your child and yourself. Setting boundaries will adjust your relationship to one that is healthy for both of you. These healthy parameters can help you both focus on working to eliminate the behaviors that are problematic and move forward into the future together.
If you’re struggling to know how to support your daughter best, this is natural. It is difficult to watch our loved ones struggle and be in pain. The best way to help your daughter is to determine whether you are engaging in enabling behavior. Working toward eliminating enabling will greatly benefit not just your daughter but your own well-being as well. The relationship between you and your daughter can be loving as well as structured with the guidance that comes from setting boundaries. While not always easy to implement, these changes will greatly benefit your daughter’s recovery. If you are struggling with a pattern of enabling with your daughter, Clearview Girls Academy can help. Call us at (888) 796-5484.