Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.
Everyone knows one--the mother who funds her young adult son's hobbies and eccentricities, even his unhealthy or illegal habits' the father who gives his preteen daughter too much leeway to explore relationships and do what she wants; the parents who pay for three abortions or arrange three adoptions of unwanted babies; the wife who turns a blind eye to her husband's drinking or drugs; the husband who ignores his wife's eating disorder; the friend who lets someone take advantage over and over again..... The Enabler.
Why do people care too little about their loved one's development as an independent, healthy and sane person to let them suffer from and learn from the consequences of their actions? If you ask, there will be a variety of excuses, from "It's her life." to "I don't think he'll listen, anyway." The enabler is tired, scared, dependent, gets some secondary reward from the status quo (like the freedom to do something else while dearest is screwing up his life) or just plain lazy (the law of inertia). It takes energy and courage, morality and strength, and true love to confront, intervene, and act logically in face of self-destruction.
I would encourage the parent to require something constructive of the child. I would encourage the spouse or partner to confront the addict and provide an ultimatum and therapy options. Let the friend say the truth. Get help, even if just for the enabler first. The path to improvement and to peace isn't avoidance, rationalization and fantasy but reality, work and change.
Published in Self Help Now: A community blog