Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children: Five Signs You Are Enabling Your Adult Child

Are you wondering if you are enabling your adult child? These five signs will help you to determine whether or not you are helping or hurting. “Enabling” means that your action allows someone to continue to do something they otherwise couldn’t do without it. It is also doing something for others that they should be doing for themselves.

Our adult children often need our help as they are maturing and preparing to become independent; however, too often we do things that do the opposite. Instead of helping them move toward independence, we foster dependence. Here are five signs that you are enabling your adult child:

You rescue your child repeatedly by paying for things because your child isn’t working, isn’t working enough, spent the money on something else, or is paying off debt that has accumulated from poor choices. Your child either doesn’t plan to pay you back or offers to pay you back but never does.

You are tolerating disrespectful behavior toward you. You are doing this because your child has “problems” and doesn’t seem to understand that you deserve to be respected. Your requests to be treated differently fall on deaf ears and only result in more mistreatment.

You and your spouse or other family members are frequently arguing about this adult child who is affecting everyone else negatively. Other people are telling you that you are tolerating too much and making excuses for this child. You are resistant to others’ suggestions that you use tough love.

You spend a lot of time thinking about how to “fix” the problems and yet your child doesn’t show any interest in your ideas nor does there appear to be movement in a positive direction from your child on his/her own. This obsession to “fix” your adult child is keeping you from enjoying your own life as much as you would be without this “problem.”

You are working harder than your child. If you are taking on a second job, working longer hours, adding on extra chores, or taking on additional tasks while your son or daughter has many hours of down time, social time, party time, or anything else that is non-productive, then you are enabling your adult child to be lazy while you are working to support him/her.

God intends that parents provide for their children while they are young; but he also intends for them to become adults who make wise choices. It is your job to parent in a way that does precisely that. If you are answered yes to these five signs you are enabling your adult children rather than setting boundaries, then your actions aren’t helping; they are hurting.

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