What is it called when I care more about something in someone’s life than they do?
When I try to“help” them because I don’t want negative consequences coming their way?
I remember an incident with my daughter. It was regarding getting her driver’s license. I kept planning when I could take her, but every time I set a day to go, she had an excuse. This would frustrate me so much. Then it hit me.
I cared more about getting her driver’s license than she did.
One afternoon we sat down in a quiet place and I apologized. I told her I realized I was pushing my agenda on her and it was wrong. I told her when she decided she was ready, to let me know. If I was available, we would go. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bring it up again.
I was shocked when she paused and responded, “Okay, how about Thursday?” My schedule was clear that afternoon, so we went and she got her license.
That was so much easier and less frustrating for me. Why did I wait so long to put the responsibility back on her?
So, what do you think? What is it called when I care more about something in someone’s life than they do, when I try to “help” too much, spare them negative consequences, or begin to own their problem? In a word–enabling.
This driver’s license story is a simple example. Here are a few others: We give reminders, hints, FYIs; subtle or not so subtle placement of notes, bills, due dates or tax-related documents, with the hope that they will want to be as responsible as we think we are.
Often, I can see the long-term consequences of my teen to adult child’s decision, or indecision. I know what may happen. I try to spare them pain or make their path less difficult. Frequently, I end up being the one who gets frustrated, upset, and angry over the issue– not them. I find myself owning their problems.
What message am I sending? Be responsible, like “responsible me?”
Sounds like a movie title. Oh wait, that was “Despicable Me!” Enough said.