How to Identify and Pull Away from Dependent Children

Published On: May 14, 2018|Categories: Adolescents|
Letting go of an enabling child.

When you first become a parent, you often think about how to best raise your child and what values you wish to pass along. You may also think of ways you want them to flourish and what you can do to help them enter adulthood equipped with the tools needed for success. As your children grow up, however, it can become easy to focus so much on supporting their success that it has the opposite effect, and they become unable to accomplish anything without your help. This enabling behavior can result in your child having a difficult time launching into adulthood. Below is a list of characteristics that may describe your child and how you can help them become more independent.

Absence of Ambition

By enabling your son or allowing him to depend on you more than he should, he will likely lack the ambition necessary to build a life for himself. If he still lives with you, he might not have to worry about paying bills, and he might not work as much as he should since he doesn’t have many financial obligations. While no parent wants to see their child struggle, parents also don’t want to see their child failing to make an effort or engage in their own lives. Encourage your son to cultivate the drive and work towards his own interests and passions.

Lack of Financial Independence

You might give your son money to help him out if he’s unemployed or doesn’t work many hours, which is perfectly understandable. That being said, you have to make sure your son doesn’t expect you to give him money like it’s a regular paycheck. A bit of help every now and then is fine, but not at the expense of your own financial obligations going unmet. You do have to think about retirement, after all.

Non-existent Problem Solving Skills

You likely have plenty of things going in your life, and you might not have the time or the energy to keep helping your son sort his life out. While there’s nothing wrong with offering advice, it’s different when you essentially solve your child’s problems for him. You’re both better off letting your son take care of his own problems his own way. After all, you may not always be there to offer a timely response.

Inability to Perform Basic Household Tasks

It’s not uncommon for men who live alone and are employed to lack basic household skills like knowing how to cook or wash clothes. Young men who are enabled and live at home might rely on their parents (especially their mothers) to take care of such tasks for them. Rather than enabling this pattern and behavior, do yourself and your son a favor and teach him how to wash clothes, cook basic meals, iron and perform basic janitorial tasks.

Misunderstanding of Boundaries

Does your son struggle with understanding what a boundary actually is? Maybe your son has never had any boundaries to learn how to obey them. To help your son become more independent, use boundaries to establish additional groundwork and responsibilities. Think about creating house rules to better encourage both independence and responsibility. More importantly, those rules should be enforced. Some good examples of rules that can help with boundaries are rotating weeks when everyone in the house washes dishes, setting a curfew, considering having your son pay a monthly bill or two for still living at home, and creating a chore wheel.

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