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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 May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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