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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 September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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