Change Can be Freeing….or Frightening
When we make the decision to release our adult children to fend for themselves, it can be both freeing and frightening. For many of us, this sudden freedom to live our own lives will seem like a breath of fresh air. For others, it will bring deep foreboding and fear.
What will we do when we stop living our adult child’s life for him?
We will start living our own.
On my journey to freedom from enabling, I’ve found the following ten steps helpful.
Ten Steps to Strength for Parents in Pain
- Memorize the Ten Suggestions for Breaking the Enabling Cycle. You’ll need to remind yourself of these often. Having them just a thought away will be very helpful in time of need.
- Make becoming healthy a personal goal. Decide from this moment forward to become stronger; spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, financially, and physically. If married, make the commitment to strengthen your union. Get counseling or join an appropriate support group if necessary.
- Decide to live your life and to stop living the life of your adult child. Find a hobby, join a gym, volunteer, or take a dance class. Do something you’ve always wanted to do.
- Take a step back and view the situation with your adult child from an unemotional perspective. Write a bio about your adult child as though you were not his parent, but instead a bystander who has been watching from afar for months—what is your adult child really like?
- Develop your action plan. This written document will clearly state the things you plan to change and will include non-negotiable rules and boundaries, firm but reasonable consequences, and timeframes. If married, this should be done as a couple. Remember, you and your spouse must agree on all areas of your plan and be prepared to present a united front at all times. If you’re single, get help from a support group or from an accountability partner.
- Prepare yourself for worst-case scenarios. Taking a stand often precipitates a crisis, and the situation may get worse before it gets better. Remember, “from controlled crisis comes positive change.” Think of this like an emergency fire drill, and carefully plan your course of action in as many scenarios as possible; role play with your spouse or a close friend. Stand firm!
- Commit to being consistent – DO NOT BACK DOWN, DO NOT NEGOTIATE. It could take days, weeks, months, or years for your adult child to change, if ever. There’s no way to tell. He may never change—but you have. Prepare to wait it out.
- Stay connected to your support group and ask for help when needed.
- Read the Bible along with a Bible study. Do this with a group if possible.
- Pray and always remember to LET GO and LET GOD.