Enabling Adult Children

by Lindsay Pietroluongo

Parents want to help their children as best they can, but sometimes well-meaning parents end up hindering their children by enabling them and promoting irresponsible behavior. This has the opposite of the intended effect and never helps the adult child.

Helping vs. Enabling

Helping a child means doing something for him that he cannot do for himself. Enabling a child means doing something for her that she should be doing on her own.

Behavior Patterns

Enabling adult children makes it clear to them that there won't be consequences if they continue their unacceptable and immature behavior. These patterns become harder to change as time goes on.


Enabling children often involves money. If you've loaned your child money often without being repaid or have paid for their job training or education in different fields, you may be an enabler. In addition, if you find that you avoid certain topics because you don't want to argue with your child, you may be enabling them.

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About the Author

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.

Photo Credits

  • beauty adult woman image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from Fotolia.com