What is the difference between helping someone and enabling them?

Helping is doing for someone what they cannot do for themselves. It might include caring for a sick person, going to the store for an elderly neighbor, or driving someone who has no transportation to an AA meeting.

When we do something for someone that they could and should — or perhaps should not — be doing for themselves, we are enabling. Enabling is anything that helps someone avoid the consequences of their own unacceptable behavior.  Examples would be paying an addict’s rent so that she will have a place to stay, buying liquor for an alcoholic to keep him off the streets, buying ice cream for an overweight diabetic, or remaining silent about suspected child abuse because “it’s none of my business.”

Enabling is the dark side of helping. [Read more…]

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