Am I Enabling My Child By Helping Them?

If your son or daughter is using drugs and alcohol, you may have been told that certain things you do for them are “enabling.” Meanwhile, all you really want to do is help them. It can be confusing how to respond to your child’s behavior.

In this short video, Master Addictions Counselor Mary Ann Badenoch, LPC, offers a reframing of the idea of enabling – one that focuses on setting limits, encouraging healthy behaviors and ignoring unwanted ones. “It’s okay to do something nice for your child,” she explains. “After all, you love them and want to stay connected with them.”

Using Positive Reinforcement to Help Change Behavior

Positive reinforcement means providing some kind of reward or benefit to increase the chances that a behavior will be repeated. And it is central to changing the way your son or daughter acts.

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    January 30, 2019 at 7:14 PM

    My husband and my family are at our wits end as our son 28 years has been using drugs and we can no longer have him living with us but he has no where to go, he is always making threats about slitting my throat and that he will kill me. We don’t know what to do please help

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      Josie Feliz

      January 31, 2019 at 10:49 AM

      Thanks for your message Tracey. We have forwarded your message to one of our helpline specialists who can help better answer your question, and she will be reaching out to you shortly. Our Helpline is a good place to start if you’d like to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Feel free to connect with us in whichever manner you choose in the future:
      Thank you. -The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

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    Natasha L

    February 11, 2018 at 9:04 PM

    Hi Sue

    I haven’t experienced your pain, but I have had my nightmares of the possibilities. My heart goes out to you. My son started smoking pot at 13 and at 25 we are facing an entire new crisis. May God strengthen you. Thanks for sharing. I am sorry for your loss

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    James Surprenant

    February 8, 2018 at 11:38 AM

    I think it is great! We need more video’s showing parents how to handle those tough questions that they feel may drive their children awat from them by asking those tough questions.

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      The Partnership

      February 8, 2018 at 12:35 PM

      Stay tuned, James. We’re planning to post more videos like this one soon. Thanks for your comment!

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    Sue Wilkinson

    February 7, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    That was a pretty mild message. Easier said than done—we tried both ways—being nice and tough love and neither worked. You’re dealing with Satan, and to overcome addiction is extremely difficult, especially if the person doesn’t have the willpower to change, and then drugs such as heroine are so addictive that there’s almost no chance they can ever get sober. It totally changes your mind. This is from an experienced mom whose daughter died from heroin overdose.

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      February 16, 2018 at 4:36 PM

      Hi Sue,
      I’m so sorry that you lost your daughter. You are right in that substance use can take its toll and it can be a struggle to figure out what works. What we know is that there are many different paths to recovery and different approaches work for different people.
      And you’re also right that it’s easier said than done. All of the parenting skills take practice – lots of it.

      Thanks for sharing your insights and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

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