Mothering or Enabling?


When I first came to Al‑Anon, I spent a great deal of time wrestling with the term, “enabling.” I am a mother. Surely a mother’s role is to enable her children, is it not? It has been a struggle to understand, let alone accept, that the behavior I viewed as that of a good mother was actually unhealthy! All my life I have held the belief that a good mother encourages her children, fixes their problems, fights their battles and cooks and cleans for them. Surely a good mother is in service to her children.

With the help of Al‑Anon, I have begun to learn that being a good mother means loving my children but also allowing them to live their lives. My children should have the right to learn life’s lessons in their time, their way. I owe them that. Doing everything for them, unintentionally or not, would do more harm than good! By placing my children’s lives ahead of my own, I was doing everyone a disservice, especially myself.

What a phenomenal moment when I realized that what I was doing for my children was actually the opposite of why I was doing it. Wow—the freedom of that weight being removed from my shoulders! Not only could I stop the exhausting experience of doing it all for everyone, but it opened the door to self-exploration by allowing my children the freedom to live their lives. I found I now had the time and desire to look at myself, take care of myself, and define myself.

By Stephanie W., Ontario

2017-09-12T14:03:20+00:00 September 12, 2017|Categories: Alcoholic Child, Alcoholic Sibling, Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|


  1. Kathy P. September 2017 at 9:29 am

    I have a daughter who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. Her drinking is becoming a huge concern. My daughter knows what to do but isn’t ready to help herself. I feel helpless, it’s hard to watch her suffer. My daughter does not live at home, she is 31 years old. She is of the impression she can, her words “fix herself and I sometimes really do not know what is best.”
    Right now she is angry with me and does not plan on calling me any time soon. Yesterday her boyfriend who’s away on a business trip, called my youngest daughter, concerned for my daughter’s safety. (this happened once before and I didn’t do anything) apparently she had been drinking excessively, called work saying she needed a mental health day and told her boss she was not doing well.
    My daughter was making threatening comments about her life to her boyfriend and similar things to my youngest daughter. I didn’t now what to do so I called mental health, they advised I call the police. I did. Now my daughter isn’t talking to me because I phoned the police. I responded to her email, yes I did call the police because I was scared for her safety and well being. I said, I care about what is happening to you. I do not know what to do how to do it. I am a caregiver maybe I enable, I don’t know. I just know it took everything I had to call the police rather than go to her home. Try and talk to her under the influence, watch her, try and help herself until the next time. Next time just escalates into something more. I’m looking to go to Al-Anon meetings to learn how to cope with my daughter’s choices and learn new ways to be a better support system for my daughter.

  2. Hope September 2017 at 9:30 pm

    I don’t know what meeting to pick, my son is an alcoholic, drug addict, thief and manipulator. He’s ruining my marriage to my husband who has given him so much since his release from jail. I am just falling apart from keeping so much inside.

  3. Lynn September 2017 at 10:57 am

    You might try a different meeting, as each one is different. Perhaps your friend could go with you for the first time. You don’t have to do it alone. I hope you find the help you need.

  4. Gay September 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I am afraid. I don’t like anything new. I talked to a friend and she suggested Alanon. Been once and really was uncomfortable. Don’t know why. I came from an alcoholic home.

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