Does your child depend on you for his every need? Is he afraid to go outside by himself? Do you sit beside him at birthday parties, and climb the slide with him to assure he won’t get scared at the top? When your husband suggests a date night, do you feel guilty leaving your little sweetheart with a sitter, even if it’s your mother? If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, you may be having some serious codependent issues.
Your relationship with adult children can also be overshadowed with the burden of codependency. Are your adult children afraid to share their honest opinions with you, for fear of your reaction? Do you withhold your affection, cry, or pout when they decide to spend a holiday with the in-laws? Do you demand to know every detail of their lives, and make them feel guilty when they don’t share?
Codependency can inhibit a young child’s emotional development, and cause permanent estrangements among adult family members. If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, consider the following tips to repair the damage caused by codependency, and start building healthy relationships with your kids.
Foster Early Independence in Your Kids
A toddler can learn to undress himself, pick up his toys and sleep in his own bed. The best advice for parents is simple. Let him do it. If your child wakes up crying, don’t rush to his room and cart him off to your bed. Console him, reassure him, and tuck him back into his own bed.
Sit on the bench at the park. Your child will be ok under your watchful eye. Let him make a new friend, run, jump and climb. If he looks back at you, give him the thumbs up, and let him know you’re proud of his independence. Resist the temptation to run out and swoop him up if he falls. He will learn to get up and resume his fun, without feeling dependent on you.
Let Your Adult Children Be Who They Are, Not Who You Want Them to Be
Being supportive and being controlling are two different things. Codependent parents are so afraid of abandonment or rejection that they smother their adult children with unhealthy emotions and expectations. Let your children flourish, develop their own personalities, and live the life they were meant to live. They will thank you for it, and enjoy spending time with you. Treat them like the responsible adults they have grown to be. Respect their opinions, and listen to what they have to say. You may even learn something as you build a healthy bond with them.
Codependency is a learned behavior. You can overcome the feelings of inadequacy and fear if you practice these common sense techniques. Once you get the hang of it, you will set your children free, and begin to build a life of your own, so everybody wins.