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Things Parents Do Unconsciously That Make Their Kids Become Codependent

Things Parents Do Unconsciously That Make Their Kids Become Codependent

How many parents do you know who proudly boast, “I do everything for my children?” Or perhaps you are guilty of this?

If your children don’t clean their room, do you automatically clean it for them?

Do you sit with them and more or less do their homework for them? Or do you allow them to do it by themselves and come to you only if they have questions?

Do they have any responsibilities at home such as mowing the lawn or helping to clear away the dishes after dinner? Or do they have no chores at home?

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Most parents want their kids to have all that they didn’t have as children and as a result, over-function. Yet this is creating a generation who will not grasp basic responsibilities–something that will ultimately affect them in the future.

Are you teaching children codependency or independence?

A lot of parents will become guilty of over-functioning [1] and unknowingly, teach their offspring codependency. Parents often excuse this behavior by either saying they do the tasks better or faster than the child, or that they are being good parents by “doing everything”. As a result, children are being taught learned helplessness.

Here are some common examples of what codependency in children can look like:

  • Having to remind your children to do their homework every day.
  • It’s become normal for your 10-year-old to sit and watch television, while you fetch nibbles and drinks whenever he or she wants.
  • Your children never clean their room because they know that you will do it.
  • Finishing their homework or school projects.
  • Your kids leave their plate and cutlery at the table for you to clean up after they have eaten.

Completing their homework will ensure that they do not get into trouble and will help them in the short-term. But your children will not learn the consequences of not doing the things they need to do. They need to develop important life skills such as time management, responsibility, and self-discipline.

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By promoting learned helplessness, they could end up becoming adults who are incapable of doing normal things for themselves. How many adults do you know who are content to leave dishes unwashed for days or who never make their bed? Do you know anyone whose mother still makes their doctor’s appointments or does their laundry?

How to reverse the codependency [2]

Consider all the things that you do for your children that they are old enough and capable enough to do for themselves. Know that it does not make you a bad parent to teach them responsibilities and reverse the pattern of learned helplessness.

If you are busy and your 12-year-old asks you to make a sandwich, could he or she start making sandwiches at this age?

Always reserve some time for yourself

Do you find that you are always tired and that you have little time for yourself? This could be another sign that you are doing far too much for your child.

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Try to allocate yourself some “me” time every day–even if it is fifteen minutes. Don’t say you do not have the time–make the time. If you spend fifteen minutes stacking the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen after dinner, this is a chore that your children should be able to help with (if they are old enough).

Warn them so that it won’t be a shock to them

If you went from doing everything for your children to suddenly expecting them to do more, it could come as a shock to them. Let them know beforehand that you want them to have more responsibilities.

Prepare for resistance for the new change. This could verge from tantrums or making you feel guilty. Remember, it may be uncomfortable for you in the short term, but it will serve them well in the long term. Be strong and firm.

Be less available and let them learn about the consequences

Your child needs to learn about the consequences of their actions (or lack of)–even if it gets them into trouble.

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Do you have to take your children’s gym clothes to them every week because they always forget it at home? The next time they do it, don’t be so available to driving to their school with it. They may get into trouble and may get detention, but then they are more likely to remember to take it the week after this.

Prepare to hurt

It is normal to feel hurt or worry that you are being a bad parent by not being as over-functioning, especially if your child is struggling with these new tasks. It would be tempting to give in and want to “rescue” them. But stand your ground and have faith that you are being the best parent that you can be.

Breaking the codependency could be your greatest gift to your children. In the long-term, it will help them to be high-functioning and responsible adults.

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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