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Why raising your child to be codependent hurts everyone

Codependency is a touchy subject; it comes from a place of both selflessness and control issues. But, even when you aren’t consciously being codependent, you may not realize you are raising your child to be codependent, too. Find out how to recognize codependency and make sure the cycle ends with you.

While you may think that codependency is only hurting yourself, the fact is that once you become a parent your choices affect your kids, too. Being codependent upon another adult can be harmful to your children, especially since kids use you as an example of how an emotional relationship should be. Before I was married and had kids I was involved in a codependent relationship, which may make me a little extra sensitive on the subject. But, it does make me look long and hard at my own relationship with my husband, and my parenting style with my children.

We all know emotionally neglecting your kids is bad, but relying on them too much isn’t good either. I am far from considering myself a helicopter mom, but the way I interact with my kids could use a little tweaking. I came across this fantastic article in Psychology Today about the relationship you have with your child and how it can ensure your kids can grow up to be codependent adults, all based on how you raise them now. And, Dr. Jennifer Wider explains that children who are controlled or overly pampered can become dependent and unable to make their own decisions, while other children in codependent relationships take on too much responsibility and are robbed of a childhood.

So, now I find myself over-analyzing my kids in hopes that I can still salvage my parenting style just in case I’ve led my kids down the road to codependency, especially since Dr. Wider explains that a parent may not even realize all the subtle ways they may be raising a codependent child. Watch for patterns of behaviors such as giving your kids the silent treatment, subjecting kids to passive-aggressive comments, not respecting your child’s boundaries or relying on your child for emotional support, warns Dr. Wider.

But, the good news is that even if you’re raising your child to be codependent, it’s not too late to change. Along with seeking the help of a professional, you can allow your child some freedom to make decisions for him or herself. Teach that value doesn’t have to come through pleasing you. Encourage self-praise. Listen and don’t offer advice until you’ve given your child a chance to figure out how to solve the problem. Codependency is a cycle that you can stop, despite your helicopter mom ways. And both you and your kids will be better off for it.

Read more about children’s emotional health

Should you cry in front of your kids?
Raising a sensitive child
Why you shouldn’t spoil your kids

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