The Enabler

What is an enabler?

Well if you Google the term you’ll come up with this: “One that enables another to achieve an end; especially :one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.

When it comes to parenting today this is an all too common occurrence. Is it a good or bad thing? Well I guess it depends on which side of the fence that you’re standing on.

For the parent that enables their child, it might seem like the right thing to do at the time.

For the Teacher, Martial Arts Instructor, or anyone else, this looks like a helicopter parent on seek and destroy.

Being a fulltime Martial Arts instructor for the last 8 years, I’ve seen enabling from one extreme to the other and everything in between.

Here is one epic enabling moment that comes to mind.

A couple of years back I was hosting a birthday party for one of my five year old children’s students who had invited 20 or so of his friends and school mates.

Most of the kids arrived with a parent or two, with a majority of the parents just sticking around long enough to make sure everything was okay.

One particular little boy whose dad had stayed with him was a little reluctant to participate, so to make a long story short he ended up negotiating with his dad.

Now this wasn’t about him not participating and going home,  he wanted his dad to take his place at the party.

That’s right a 35 year old grown man lining up with 20 five year olds.

Being the good enabler that he was, and along with his poor negotiating skills, he participated in the class while his five year old son snapped pictures with his camera and looked on.

How could anyone, including the father not see something wrong with this picture?

To him this seemed completely within reason, to anyone else other than a fellow enabler this was absurdities finest moment.

That of course was an extreme moment, with a BIG  X.

On the lighter side of enabling, if there is one, I’ve heard this all too common enabling phrase over the years “I don’t want to force them to come to class.”

What the heck does that phrase mean? Isn’t this the same force you use when you make a child brush their teeth, go to school or eat there vegetables?

Why should anything else that’s good for their fitness, health, character, self-esteem and growth be any different?

Enabling our kids may seem like the right thing to do at the time, but for their long term social, character and physical development it becomes detrimental throughout their entire life.

Is shielding a child from fear, actually teaching them how to face it, defeat it and own it?

Is not teaching a child how to lose before they learn how to win, really helping them appreciate the sweet taste of victory and accomplishment?

Is negotiating with a five year old, really teaching them right from wrong?

Is wanting to be your child’s BFF really such a cool thing?

Maybe it’s because I was brought up in a different era, maybe it’s because I had to deal with fear, failure and hardships at such a young age.

However you look at it, it’s made me the person I am today. I can look fear in the face, I’m not afraid to lose or to fail or to take a chance or to give up on anything, ever.

Isn’t this really what everyone wants for their kids?

By: Master Tim Bell


One Response

  1. […] 2:00 pm – Wrote a blog post – HERE […]

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