This post may especially hit home with those who are moms of adult children, like me. As a mother, your tendency is to nurture your children (no matter how old they may be). You want to do things to help them, to make life better and easier. And that’s a great thing, to a point.
However, there’s a fine line between helping and that dreaded word… enabling. Do you think that doesn’t apply to you? Keep reading, as it just might. Let me explain…
Recently, upon graduating from college, our 22-year-old son moved back home. He started his job, is actively looking for a place to live, and will move out within the next 2 to 3 months. In the meantime (while he’s under our roof) I have a lot of opportunities to do things for him. For example, cook, clean and do laundry for him. I love him and enjoy having him home, and I’m doing those things anyway, so why not just add him into the mix –right?
In my 26 years of being a mother (to our daughter and then our son), I’ve made plenty of mistakes (as every parent does). However, I’ve also gained some wisdom. In particular, I’ve learned that doing too much for our kids, can quickly become damaging –it can enable unhealthy and immature behavior, which promotes a failure to launch. If you’ve seen the movie, “Failure to Launch,” you know what I’m talking about.
So I made a decision: As a general rule, I will not do my son’s laundry –as to do so would rob him of the confidence he gains from doing it himself; I will not clean his bedroom or pick up after him –because being responsible for the cleanliness of your own living space is part of being an adult; and I will not hover over him; try to control his decisions about what to wear, what to eat and what to do everyday –for that would stunt his growth and ability to launch.
As parents, I believe one of our greatest jobs is to prepare our children to become responsible, productive and kind adults; to train them and empower them to stand on their own two feet. The Bible (Proverbs 22:6) says it this way, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
So if by some chance your children are having trouble standing on their own, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror -to see if you’ve crossed the line from loving to enabling. If that’s the case don’t panic, just start RE-training them (and yourself).
By all means, validate their feelings, encourage them, and pray for them, but stop there. The bottom line is that living wholeheartedly means loving yourself, God and others with all your heart. Just remember that “with all your heart,” doesn’t mean enabling.
Post note: Before you come to the conclusion that this sounds harsh, please know that this very morning, I made a double batch of scrambled eggs so that our son could have some with me. It’s just that I don’t make this a daily habit. After all, he needs to know how to make eggs for himself, which I am proud to say, he does. 🙂 Wishing a successful launch for your children!