Supporting Without Enabling: How to Help Without Doing Too Much

It's natural to want to help those we care about, but it's important to know when we're doing too much. It's easy to slip into a pattern of enabling, where we take on too much responsibility for the well-being of others. But it's possible to support without enabling, and it starts with understanding our own motives. At an early age, we learn that our behaviors affect those around us for better or worse.

We may get used to helping too much, focusing too much on the well-being of others, solving problems too compulsively, or being good. It's important to recognize when our actions are motivated by a desire to be helpful, and when they're motivated by a need to control the situation. When faced with a situation where you want to help without enabling, it's important to remember that you have two objectives. The first is to provide support and guidance without taking on too much responsibility for the outcome.

The second is to help the person in need develop their own problem-solving skills. One way to do this is by participating in family therapy. This can help you understand your own motives and reflect on whether an impulse that seems good is actually the right thing to do in a particular situation. It can also help you learn how to set boundaries and communicate your expectations in a constructive way.

Another way to support without enabling is by teaching people how to fish, rather than giving them a fish. For example, if your 16-year-old son recently lost his driver's license due to reckless driving and they ask you to take them halfway across the state to attend a long-awaited soccer tournament, let them know that if they want to go to the game, they'll have to find their own vehicle there (and fix it with you). This will help them develop their own problem-solving skills and learn how to take responsibility for their actions. It will also help them understand that there are consequences for their actions and that they need to take responsibility for them. Finally, it's important to remember that supporting without enabling doesn't mean not helping at all.

It means providing support and guidance in a way that encourages independence and self-sufficiency. It means setting boundaries and communicating expectations in a constructive way.