References “The New Codependency” by Melody Beattie
Sometimes helping isn’t so helpful. It’s only natural to want to make life easier for the ones you love. But compulsive interference can actually make things worse. This is why codependency is such an unhealthy approach to relationships. It appears and loving and unselfish to drop everything in your life to help others, but sometimes it only serves to make life more difficult for both of you.
Nurturing vs. Codependency
Nurturing respects their boundaries, while codependency is characterized by compulsive interference.
The fundamental difference between codependency and nurturing is that codependents refuse to let well enough alone. Nurturers respect that people have the right to live their own lives. They understand that, even though a person chooses differently than they would have, does not mean they chose wrong. Codependents, on the other hand, think they know best. They insist on inserting themselves into the situation, even if the person they want to help asks them not to.
Nurturing involves hands-off guidance, while codependency insists on rescuing
As hard as it may be, nurturers can stand by while their loved ones make mistakes. As much as they may want to shield them from that pain, nurturers know being burned by a stove sends a stronger message than endless repetitions of “Don’t touch.” Offering themselves as a source of guidance that refuses to enable destructive behavior is ultimately more loving than acting as a shield against the more painful parts of life.
Codependents cannot accept this. They must rescue. They think they are doing their loved ones a favor by protecting them from pain, but what they are really doing is stunting their maturity. Bad choices, mistakes, and the pain they cause can teach valuable life lessons about how to navigate life. By side-stepping these lessons, codependents potentially dispose their loved ones to making even worse choices later on.
Nurturers create independent, resourceful people, while codependents create inexperienced, hangers-on
Codependents intervene out of a subconscious desire to make their loved ones dependent on them. It’s how they secure love and companionship. If you constantly make your children’s decisions for them, and swoop in to solve things every time they have a problem, there is no way they will ever leave you. They can’t. They are completely dependent on you to navigate their life for them.
Codependency feels good, while it lasts. Everyone likes to feel important and needed. But what happens if your loved one figures out how to live life on their own? You major source of self-esteem disappears. Codependency appears to build a reliable bond, but it actually stunts both of you. By making others’ choices for them and protecting them from the consequences of their actions, you also keep them from developing invaluable life skills. Consequences teach us to eschew actions that can hurt ourselves and others. Making choices teaches us about ourselves, and how to be assertive.
Codependency and the Parable of the Prodigal Son
Saying codependency is unhealthy is one thing, but let’s explore it with the example of the prodigal son in Luke 15. If any parent had an excuse to intervene in their child’s life, it would be the father of a wayward son who has run away from home and found himself starving. But the father knew his son had to learn the full message of his lesson if it was to benefit him. Would he really understand what he had thrown away if he was rescued immediately his money ran out? No. A two-week bender in Vegas is not nearly as educational as being reduced to envying pigs. Choosing to return home shows that the son appreciates the gravity of his mistake. His willingness to become a servant on the estate he once stood to inherit is stronger proof of his rejection of his debaucherous life than agreeing to return home with a rescuing father because his money has run out.
Also, if his father rescued him once, the son thinks he can reasonably assume he will do it again. That is why codependency is so maladaptive. Being rescued means people do not develop the proper respect for dangerous behavior. You may think it hateful to not save your loved ones from pain when you can, but you are only setting them up to potentially hurt themselves worse in the future. After all, smoothing things over with a teacher after your child is caught cheating is much easier than persuading the IRS to forgive a decade of tax fraud.
Christian Counseling for Codependency
The same goes if you find yourself relying on or even resenting the interference of a loved one. A professional Christian counselor can help you figure out why your relationship developed this way, and how to transform it so it is based on genuine affection, rather than dependence. A professional Christian counselor will use therapeutic techniques supported by biblical principles to help you build more enjoyable relationships.
Codependency-Christian-counseling Freedigitalphotos.net Sura Nualpradid; Help-rebellious-children Freedigitalphotos.net photostock