Enabling Teens 101

Enabling Teens 101

by Andrew Evangelista LCSW, LCADC, DRCC, Student Assistance Counselor, CCL Counseling website

Some simple questions that may help you to understand if you may be enabling your teenager.

Members of Al-Anon will tell you that “Helping is doing something for someone that they are incapable of doing for themselves and that enabling is doing things for someone that they that should be doing for themselves”.

  • Have you ever made excuses for his/her behavior?
  • Have you ever called and knowingly lied and or made excuses for school or work absence for your teen?
  • Have you, in some cases, made excuses, or lied to the school about his/her behaviors or symptoms?
  • Have you avoided talking directly to your teen or loved one about his or her behavior “walking on egg shells” to “keep the peace”?
  • Have you bailed him/her out of the police station, jail or other tough jams?
  • Have you paid for his or her legal fees or given sums of money to “so called friends” for bad loans or ridiculous debts?
  • Have you loaned him/her money to avoid an argument or didn’t confront him/her after finding money missing from your room or wallet?
  • Have you given him/her “one more chance” many times over and over?
  • Have you threatened consequences many times and finally after having enough, decided to get tough but then did not follow through?
  • Have you thought that you were handling a situation wrong or felt guilty about what you were doing to help him/her about a problem?
  • Have you lost sleep or been overly stressed thinking about how to handle your teenager?
  • Have you talked with friends, co-workers or a counselor and continued to assist your teenager even know you felt inside it was wrong?
  • Have things just spun out of control and appear unmanageable?

If you have answered yes to more than two questions you may need some support in dealing with your teenager and changing some of your enabling behaviors. The negative consequences and emotional stress may increase without intervention. Ask for help and begin to explore new approaches to deal more effectively with your child, teen or loved one.

You can contact the Addiction Hotline of New Jersey at 844-276-2777 or Alcoholics Anonymous at 800-245-1377. You can also call North Jersey Al-Anon/Alateen - families/friends at 973-744-8686. For more information, you can also visit  Drugfree.org.