How many parents do you know who proudly boast, “I do everything for my children?” Or perhaps you are guilty of this?
If your children don’t clean their room, do you automatically clean it for them?
Do you sit with them and more or less do their homework for them? Or do you allow them to do it by themselves and come to you only if they have questions?
Do they have any responsibilities at home such as mowing the lawn or helping to clear away the dishes after dinner? Or do they have no chores at home?
Most parents want their kids to have all that they didn’t have as children and as a result, over-function. Yet this is creating a generation who will not grasp basic responsibilities–something that will ultimately affect them in the future.
Are you teaching children codependency or independence?
A lot of parents will become guilty of over-functioning  and unknowingly, teach their offspring codependency. Parents often excuse this behavior by either saying they do the tasks better or faster than the child, or that they are being good parents by “doing everything”. As a result, children are being taught learned helplessness.
Here are some common examples of what codependency in children can look like:
- Having to remind your children to do their homework every day.
- It’s become normal for your 10-year-old to sit and watch television, while you fetch nibbles and drinks whenever he or she wants.
- Your children never clean their room because they know that you will do it.
- Finishing their homework or school projects.
- Your kids leave their plate and cutlery at the table for you to clean up after they have eaten.
Completing their homework will ensure that they do not get into trouble and will help them in the short-term. But your children will not learn the consequences of not doing the things they need to do. They need to develop important life skills such as time management, responsibility, and self-discipline.
By promoting learned helplessness, they could end up becoming adults who are incapable of doing normal things for themselves. How many adults do you know who are content to leave dishes unwashed for days or who never make their bed? Do you know anyone whose mother still makes their doctor’s appointments or does their laundry?
How to reverse the codependency 
Consider all the things that you do for your children that they are old enough and capable enough to do for themselves. Know that it does not make you a bad parent to teach them responsibilities and reverse the pattern of learned helplessness.
If you are busy and your 12-year-old asks you to make a sandwich, could he or she start making sandwiches at this age?
Always reserve some time for yourself
Do you find that you are always tired and that you have little time for yourself? This could be another sign that you are doing far too much for your child.
Try to allocate yourself some “me” time every day–even if it is fifteen minutes. Don’t say you do not have the time–make the time. If you spend fifteen minutes stacking the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen after dinner, this is a chore that your children should be able to help with (if they are old enough).
Warn them so that it won’t be a shock to them
If you went from doing everything for your children to suddenly expecting them to do more, it could come as a shock to them. Let them know beforehand that you want them to have more responsibilities.
Prepare for resistance for the new change. This could verge from tantrums or making you feel guilty. Remember, it may be uncomfortable for you in the short term, but it will serve them well in the long term. Be strong and firm.
Be less available and let them learn about the consequences
Your child needs to learn about the consequences of their actions (or lack of)–even if it gets them into trouble.
Do you have to take your children’s gym clothes to them every week because they always forget it at home? The next time they do it, don’t be so available to driving to their school with it. They may get into trouble and may get detention, but then they are more likely to remember to take it the week after this.
Prepare to hurt
It is normal to feel hurt or worry that you are being a bad parent by not being as over-functioning, especially if your child is struggling with these new tasks. It would be tempting to give in and want to “rescue” them. But stand your ground and have faith that you are being the best parent that you can be.
Breaking the codependency could be your greatest gift to your children. In the long-term, it will help them to be high-functioning and responsible adults.
|||^||Psychology Today: How to Tell if You’re Doing too Much for Your Kids|
|||^||Empowering Parents: Learned Helplessness: Are You Doing Too Much for Your Child?Pay attention to your actions|
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