It's not a hard decision to let her learn her own lessions now when I know that she needs to learn these lessons to cope in life. But when does helping your child turn into hurting?
The definition of enabling in recovery is "The process by which family members, including partners, parents, children or siblings, "enable" or make possible a person to continue their addiction, by failing to set appropriate boundaries, failing to recognize the problem, providing money, etc."
There are so many ways that a person can enable. But how do we distinguish the difference between helping our loved ones and enabling them? There is no easy answer to this. What is helping to some is enabling to others.
For example, one of my problems is spending. I have constantly gotten in trouble with spending money and not looked or planned for the bills that were nessecary until I was done having my fun. Then I would panic at the fact that I didn't have enough money left to last the rest of the month. If some one constantly provided the money for me to get by, then that would be enabling me. Why? Because I wasn't allowed to feel the consequences of my mistakes. Also, if someone planned out my budget for me or handled my money for me, they still aren't letting me learn on my own. Now this doesn't mean that people aren't supposed to make mistakes and that we aren't supposed to help others. But there is a point when it has to stop.
I was talking with one person dear to me whose son was an addict, and she told me something that shocked me. She said that she had learned from her son's rehab that many parents of addicts die before their addict does. The stress of wondering if their son or daughter was alive or using, actually killed them. Heart attacks, litterally! Broken hearts waiting for their children to be well. Whole families can be destroyed because of one member of the family's bad decisions. But there is hope!
God uses these addictions and situations our loved ones get into to teach us and them about His grace. You can use this situation to try and control and help, or you can get out of the way and let God do the work. The decision has to come from you, but there are ways to help you figure out if out are enabling.
1. Does your loved one keep getting in the same or similar situations and expect you to take care of it or advise them on what to do?
2. Do you find yourself having uncomfortable conversations with your adult family member over and over?
3. Is there a family member who you hide their behavior from others.
4. Are you spending too much of your own resources (money, time..) on others and ignoring or neglecting your own responsibilities?
These are a few ways that might be clues, but the easiest way to find out is to ask someone you trust to give you an honest answer. A pastor, a friend of the family, or a professional counselor. I am not a professional counselor and I don't know much about enabling except for what I have seen. I have witnessed multiple people's testimonies talk about how enabling destroyed their relationships and marriages. Trying to control or fix others is something we cannot do. We can put a son in rehab and they can go straight back to drugs, we can lock up the money or the fridge, but we can't stop the urges. Only God can heal an addiction. Only God can fill that hole that we want to stuff with Worldly things. So please remember that your life and ties to a person can only go so deep before it starts to bleed uncontrolably. Letting God have that person, does not guarantee that they will stop their damaging habits. But it does keep you from being damaged yourself. And it allows that person to fall into Gods arms.
I want to leave you with a word picture. Imagine that someone you love walks to a cliff and prepares to jump off. You dive for their feet and keep them from going over. You are both bruised and battered but at least you saved them. You nurse your wounds, but before they are healed you see them heading towards the cliff again. You warn them and yell and rescue them again. The process continues until you can barely stand and this time you can't grab them before they dive off. Your heart is so broken but so is your body and as you crawl to the edge to see the deadly wreakage that used to be your loved one, you are shocked. Instead of dead you see them moving. Yes they are damaged, yes they are hurt. But they are also scared! Instead of dying, Jesus caught them, He holds them in His glorious hands and for the first time they feel the amazing love and grace that God has for them. Every time you saved them you were keeping them from God's hands. God then scoops you up too and the healing process begins.