Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Allison Bottke’s latest book,
Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing,

This book is especially helpful to those struggling with adult children whose poor choices are affecting them or other family members. How often parents find themselves enabling their grown children instead of challenging them. This attitude is particularly prevalent here in America where many people tend to believe everything is owed to them, and have not understood that they are among the most comfortable, privileged people in the world.

I asked Allison some questions that I highlight the enormity of this dilemma, and whet your appetites for this resource.

(NB—As always on this blog, I use initials to separate the interviewer from the interviewee. AB = Allison Bottke & JD = Janey DeMeo (yep, me).

JD: The book comes out of your own personal experience with your son. Please tell us about that.

AB: For years I really thought I was helping my son. I wanted him to have the things I never had growing up. I love my son, and I didn’t want him to hurt—but sometimes pain is a natural result of the choices we make. For a long time I didn’t understand the part I was playing in the ongoing drama that had become my son’s life—I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to live in constant chaos and crisis because of his choices. When I chose to stop the insanity and start living a life of hope and healing my life changed. It’s a feeling I want other struggling parents and grandparents to experience. I want other parents to know that change is possible when we choose to stop the destructive cycle of enabling. And we can stop it. I know, because I’ve done it.

JD: Why do you think so many parents struggle with enabling their adult children?

AB: We don’t understand the difference between helping and enabling, that one heals and the other hurts. We don’t realize that we handicap our adult children when we don’t allow them to experience the consequences of their actions.

JD: How can we determine whether we are helping versus enabling our children?

AB: Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself.
Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself. An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

JD: What are some of the most common ways that parents enable their children?

AB: Being the Bank of Mom and Dad, or the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa. Loaning money that is never repaid, buying things they can’t afford and don’t really need. Continually coming to their rescue so they don’t feel the pain—the consequences—of their actions and choices. Accepting excuses that we know are excuses—and in some instances are downright lies. Blaming ourselves for their problems. We have given too much and expected too little.

Talk to you soon... Janey DeMeo.

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