Are You Enabling or Empowering?

Apr 13, 2022

Most women are wired to be helpful. To be caregivers. To lend a hand to someone in need. Often we don’t think twice about it. Most of the time that “I will do it” behavior comes from the caregiver side of us. But sometimes, there’s a different motive. 


Sometimes, we are control freaks. We need everything done exactly this way or that, at exactly this time.

If you’ve ever had these thoughts you know exactly what I’m talking about:

“I’ll just do it myself because you’ll mess it up.”

“You are just so slow, it’ll be faster if I do it”

“I’m going to have to fix it if I let you do it, so I’ll just do it right the first time.”

“You will make such a mess, I better do it”

“The tracks on the lawn have to be perfectly straight, so I can’t let you mow.” 

This type of behavior gets us into trouble for a few different reasons. One, we often put so much pressure onto ourselves to be perfect, do it just so, to appear a certain way that we add more stress to our lives. Two, we prevent ourselves from ever having a teammate or a helper on those days when there just isn’t enough of you. 


For example, my mom decorates cakes. As a child, I LOVED helping in the kitchen. Obviously, these cakes were for other people and so there was a need for them to look professional and done well. However, she started teaching me the skills early on anyway. I learned all about mixing colors before I could reach the counter without a stepstool. I loved to stir the frosting and watch it turn from white to purple, or blue, or yellow. Of course, at that age, I would mix just the surface, and never really scrape the edges or get ALL the frosting. Instead of not letting me help, she would show me what I had missed and have me mix again. By the time I was 12 I was making my own cakes and assisting her with hers. She had empowered me to be a helper. 


How easy would it have been for her to kick me out of the kitchen so I didn’t get in the way or offer up any distraction? How simple would it have been to hold so much pressure on me to mix the frosting right the first time, because that’s how she would have done it, causing me to feel discouraged and uninterested? How easy would it have been to continue to do it all alone for years? 


This example is one of many I could give you, but I bet you can think of a few places in your own life where you’ve held onto perfection and in the long run caused yourself more stress. Once you’ve got a situation or two in mind, ask yourself this question:


Am I enabling, or empowering my children in this situation? 

Enabling them to continue to live life without certain skills (and a fierce dependence on me) or empowering them to become independent? 


If you’ve ever transitioned into a household with a teen driver, you understand how wonderful it is to empower them. It is so great to have that extra driver in the house, someone to run to the grocery store before supper or take themselves to school in the morning. That extra HELP in your household certainly makes a difference. But had you not taught your kiddo to drive, had you been an enabler instead of someone who empowered them, you wouldn’t have that help. 


When you’re feeling exhausted and spread a little too thin, allow yourself to release some of that need for perfection. If your husband folds the towels in fours instead of thirds like you’d prefer, let it go. Let yourself find joy in the task being completed instead of frustration in it being done differently than you would have. Empower your helpers to keep helping. 


If that feeling of overwhelm and perfectionism has gotten to you, let’s book a call and talk about my favorite strategy to guide you to becoming a better mom and a better version of yourself. Find my calendar here. 


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