Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Enabler

Greetings friends and family,

I'm smarter than a wise monk.  What makes me smarter than a wise monk is that I learn for his (and others) example and don't make the same mistakes they made.  The purpose of some people's life is like a lighthouse:  to serve as a warning for what NOT to do.  As an example here is a quote that sums up a guiding principle for how I DON'T live life:

A monk wrote more than 900 years ago, “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world.”

I don't want to be an old man who finally figured this out too late and then scrambles to be the husband and father and world changer he was designed to be.  I changed and continue to change as those flaws in my life are revealed.  This is where I deviate from the wise monk mentioned above.  Firstly, I know I can't change Kendra even if I wanted to.  That freedom of giving her unconditional love no matter what is something I'm learning to give at a deeper level every day.  Secondly, I believe if we put in the time and efforts early to shape and guide Easton and Layla then we won't have to try, in vain, to change them later.  So how does this work for us from a practical view?

One of the key concepts I keep in the front of my mind is being an enabler for the twins.  I know there is a negative connotation with that word, but here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Enabling is a term with a double meaning:

As a positive term, it references patterns of interaction which allow individuals to develop and grow. These may be on any scale, for example within the family

In a negative sense, enabling is also used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem. A common theme of enabling is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action. The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. It is a major environmental cause of addiction.

so there you have it.  Kendra and I are positive enablers for Easton and Layla.  Other people I know are negative enablers for their grown children and I feel bad for the grown children.  If a kid or teenager or adult living as a child gets bailed out by Mommy or Daddy then they are being taught something that is contrary to life and the nature of the world we live in.  If the child never feels the pain of bad consequences for their poor choices, then they are being taught two things that are contrary to reality:

1  I can make choices AND choose the consequences (or lack thereof)
2.  Mom or Dad will always be there to bail me out and the precedence is set for me to abuse that in the future through guilting them.

These are both the fault of parents who are negative enablers!  It's not the kid's fault.  However, it's never too late for parents to stop doing the wrong behavior and teach their dysfunctional adult children how life really works:  No one can make choices and choose the consequences and you, as the parent, will NOT be there forever even if your money is.  If you leave a ton of money to selfish, dysfunctional kids then they will self-destruct.  what you mean as a blessing will be a curse on their lives.  If you leave no money, when pass away they'll be in for a shock of their lives when they have to face bad consequences for bad choices.

OK, I know that soap box was mighty high and could come across as condescending, but please forgive me if that's the way it was received.  I am passionate because there are situations which are so obviously dysfunctional that it bothers me how they (parents) are unable to see the damage and future damage caused to the children.

Here's my personal example. When I took the twins to the public bathroom we ran into common problem.  sinks are too high!  The soap dispenser and water spout are just a little out of reach.  My standard response is not to wash their hands for them or skip washing hands.  I just give them what they need:  a little help until such time when they will no longer need it.   I flex my foot and they stand on my ankle.  Just enough of a boost to be successful.

I took a picture because it occurred to me that this is representative of my parenting style. I'm a positive enabler.

As we were drying our hands I verbally explained the situation.  I said, "There will come a day soon when you won't need Daddy to do this anymore.  You'll be tall enough to do this all by yourself!"

Layla's lip turned pouty and she said, "You mean you won't be my Daddy any more?"  I crouched down to her eye level and said, "No!  that's not what I meant.  I will be here for you to help you in many other ways, but when you get tall enough you won't need to stand on my foot to reach the sink."  After I explained this she was content and all was right in the world once again.

See you soon!

No comments: