Family, Life

The Epidemic of Enablers

I admit it.  I’m a fan of The Andy Griffith Show.  It was funny, clean, moral, funny, and funny.  The show also taught valuable lessons, much like other shows from that era.  In one episode, entitled, “Bailey’s Bad Boy,” Andy met a rich young man who had learned that his dad would always “bail him out.”  By the end of the episode, the young man found value in taking responsibility for an accident he had caused.

Enter the above clip.

Of course, this show and the characters are fiction, but the lesson is very much real.  It is vital that we learn to stand on our two legs, and it is equally vital that we teach our children to stand on their own two legs.

There is a growing epidemic in our land.  We have a culture of enablers instead of encouragers.

Let me give my definitions of those terms for the sake of this post:

1.  An Enabler – one who gives another the power to do wrong
2.  An Encourager – one who coaches concepts of right and goodness in another

Which one are you?

Little Johnny receives correction at school.  Perhaps he did not turn in his homework.  Maybe he pushed another child, or he disrespected his teachers.  When little Johnny’s mother or father learns of the correction, the parent immediately goes to the school to discuss the matter.  Instead of siding with the teacher, the parent sides with the child.  The teacher is told that little Johnny is a good boy and that he essentially does not do the kind of things of which he is being accused.  On the car ride home, little Johnny hears how much the teacher overreacted and what a good boy he really is.  Thus, the child learns that his actions have no consequences.

Congratulations, Mom or Dad.  You have just become an enabler.

Granted, teachers are not always correct, but it is certainly not correct to teach a child that he does not have to respect the authority figures in his life.

Mary has always been Daddy’s little girl.  She grows up and leaves home.  She is trying to be her own person.  She is making her own choices; she is dating whom she will, partying when she wants, and enjoying her life.  She does work and makes money, but she never seems to make ends meet.  She is constantly needing money from her parents.  Of course, her parents gladly help her, and Mary makes promises to return the money.  Only, it happens again and again.

Mary’s parents are enablers.

I am not suggesting that it is wrong to help your children.  Yet, if my child is engaging in the party life, living on credit cards to feed these habits, and making foolish choices, I must ask myself, “Am I helping my child stand on his own two legs, or am I enabling him to make more foolish choices?”

This danger is real, and we will not help ourselves or anyone else by hiding from the truth.  We are all prone to be enablers, whether with family or friends.

Refusal to accept the truth and change the behavior will not cure the problem.  It’s time to be honest.  It’s time to seek the Lord.  It’s time to be encouragers instead of enablers.

I believe this issue is rooted in the following problems:

Lack of wisdom
Misconceptions of love
Worship of acceptance
Loss of biblical vision

Have you seen or faced this issue?  Do you think I am overreacting?  I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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