Parent who enables, empowers…..

by Rod Smith

Pietermaritzburg Educational Psychologist, David Weekes, contacted me. At my request he modified yesterday’s column: Thanks, David:

The parent who ENABLES …

1. Overprotects, makes excuses for or covers up his/her child’s misbehaviour and, thereby, undermines the authority of the other parent and teachers.

2. Feels over-burdened or rewarded by responsibility for his/her child (ensuring rules are followed, doing things for the child he/she is capable of doing for him/herself).

3. Feels like he/she is living more than one life as if the child’s choices and actions are entirely the parent’s responsibility.

4. Endures “borrowed” anxiety – worries needlessly about how his/her child will turn out, perform in school, cope with bullies.

5. Seems unable to distinguish between “self” and “parent” and, in seeking to be a “good” parent, reinforcing an unhealthy co-dependence.

The parent who EMPOWERS …

1. Learns to stop overprotecting (“I will not lie for you and write an excuse note when you are not ill.”)

2. Understands the critical distinction between being responsible for his/her child’s wellbeing and assuming responsibility when it is the child who is accountable.

3. Learns to allow many choices (within limits) made by his/her child to run their course so the child can learn from the consequences of his/her actions.

4. Learns to distinguish between useful anxiety and what is and is not a legitimate cause for worry.

5. Works at promoting a healthy, necessary separation to foster a sense of independence in that child.

David can be contacted at

One Comment to “Parent who enables, empowers…..”

  1. Some very important distinctions there. It may seem like a fine line but the results are significant. Great post!

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