A Family of Enablers

This is a true story, with names changed for privacy’s sake. Before you read it, read this definition of an “enabler”.

http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/articles/enabler-definition/

An enabler is a person who by their actions make it easier for an addict to continue their self-destructive behavior by criticizing or rescuing. The term codependency refers to a relationship where one or both parties enable the other to act in certain maladaptive ways. Many times, the act of the enabler satisfies a need for the codependent person because his or her actions foster a need from the other person or persons in the relationship.

There was once a girl named Suzanne. When she was 15, she became pregnant, but the father was completely unknown; it was rumored that he was an illegal immigrant. So she gave birth to her son Darren.  Her family, rather than force her to take care of Darren full time, allowed Suzanne to dump the baby on her mother and sister Cathy while she continued to party all the time. As a result, Suzanne became pregnant again at the age of 17, this time giving birth to a daughter, Cindy, whose father was also unknown. As the years went by, the extended family of Suzanne showered gifts to Suzanne’s children on their birthdays as well as every Christmas, rather than have Suzanne be the chief provider for those children. Then at age 20, Suzanne became pregnant yet again, and her 16 year old sister Cathy also became pregnant at the same time. Both sisters gave birth to babies that year, Suzanne to a boy named Charles and Cathy to a girl named Penny. Finally, Suzanne had a fourth baby, a girl named Millie, at age 24. In all Suzanne’s cases, the fathers never took responsibility for their children, instead, the family continued to enable her by showering all the children with gifts every year, thus rewarding Suzanne by proxy for having them.

Suzanne only responded to the love shown to her children by continuing to screw up. Last I heard, she was addicted to drugs and had gone to jail over it.

Did it ever occur to Suzanne’s family that if they had disowned Suzanne after she got pregnant the second or third time and forced her to live strictly on her own with her as the only support for her kids, she might have come to her senses and stopped having babies out of wedlock and avoided partying and drugs? That maybe her sister might also have not gotten pregnant?  That the family as a whole would be much more functional than they ended up being? Love is a wonderful thing, but it is possible to have too much love for someone and end up failing them.

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