Nurture vs. Enable

Nurture: “to care for the growth or development of; to help or encourage the development of; support, encourage, feed, and protect.”

Nurturing implies the idea of helping someone become the best that they can be, to develop to their full potential. Nurturing is not always easy or well received, especially when what is best for a child is for us to protect them from harm, such as a hot stove or a busy street. Children (of any age) can get the idea that they want what they want and your hindering them is not appreciated. We have all experienced the howls of a child in a store whose desires are thwarted. Those of us who have children in addiction have also experienced the anger, guilt trips, and verbal abuse of a son or daughter who wants us to do something for them that would lead to further harm to them and we have nurtured by refusing.

Enabling our child is deadly. Enabling is choosing to allow someone to continue in his or her addiction by not setting appropriate boundaries and by providing housing, food, and money so that the person does not reach their point of brokenness. When we allow our child to live with us, steal from us, pay their fines or bail them out, we are actually sending a message to them that their behavior is acceptable, no matter what our words may say. We are used to providing for our child (nurturing) but it is hard to see that our provision for them needs to stop the minute they cross the line into substance abuse/addiction.

When is it ok to help a child in addiction? When they come to the place of brokenness and want help getting to an appropriate treatment facility, it is nurturing to assist them to find a place that they can go, as long as it does not cause harm to us financially. They need to be the one to call the facility, fill out the application, and do as much as they can to get there on their own if possible. Otherwise, their desire to go somewhere can be in order to hide or to get off the streets for a while without truly wanting to change.

Nurturing is protection. Enabling is death.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Cherri Freeman
facilitator of Love them to Life Support Group – Monday nights, 7-8:30 pm at America’s Keswick. For more information please call Guest Services 732.350.1187

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s