help me to know when I am enabling or helping my 23 year old son

by any mother
(United States)

My last child is 23 years old. He was quite a surprise as he was born 13 years after my 4th child. I was in a period of transition myself when he was born, just finished college and working very hard to pay for it myself, being recently divorced, learning how to be an independent woman for the first time in my life.

I had my 23 year old a year after graduating from college, becoming a R.N. I planned and did wait until my 4th child went to kindergarten and even at the college i was attending. Needless to say, my 23 year old was my only child that i worked until the day before he was born and went back to work when he was 5 weeks old. My first child was born when I was 15, and i was determined to learn how to take care of myself and i considered myself a success. There are very many other details but guilt from leaving him, feeling like I was preoccupied when he was little, have all contributed to me enabling him to a point where i can no longer seem to control ALWAYS bailing him out in every way.

My other 4 children were helped early on in different degrees but they are all successful and taking care of themselves. To complicate an already complicated situation, when my 23 year old was 5, I married the man of my dreams, and he was a prominent physician in our town, He got custody of his 4 children soon after we were married.

We had different parenting agendas. I worked hard to get his children to accept me, further causing more guilt feelings that i had failed to give my son the attention he needed. Added to that, we suddenly had a better financial situation but my determination to continue to be independent, I continued to work full time. My husband has been wonderful to all of my children. We have given my son 2 chances at college, 3 different starts for him in different states. He has ADD and does so well when he takes his meds but he can't even seem to keep taking it regularly even though he has no problems at all obtaining his meds, including health insurance and knowing we will help him.

I know that i am enabling him but no longer know what is the right thing to do. He will do well for a while and then totally self destruct his life, causing him so many problems. Can someone help me to know what is the best thing to do. I am well aware that I am a major cause in this problem and have become quite depressed and obsessed with my son's happiness and well being to the point of harming my own welfare. I do not have the problem at all with my other children. I have better boundaries with them and always have.

Please let me know if anyone else has this problem. I am feeling helpless and hopeless....

Comments for help me to know when I am enabling or helping my 23 year old son

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Feb 08, 2017
Enabling presentation
by: Don


Sorry for your situation, but you are not alone. There are people here with tons of experience re: before, during, and after recovery from Enabling. Check back often as I am sure they will share...

In the meantime, I have put a new Enabling behavior presentation on the website. Check it out at the link below: (there is a lot there, but it "remembers" where you left off if you have to leave and come back to it.

Enabling Behavior Mini-Course

Take care!
Don Carter MSW, LCSW

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Enabling Behavior Discussion Forum.

Book Appointment with Don or Angie Carter

Visit Us on Facebook...

Like this Page? Pass it On...