Enabler Parent vs. Helpful Parent (Episode 236)

It’s a showdown between two types of parents: The Enabler Parent vs. The Helpful Parent. Find out who will win on today’s episode. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.

NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman 

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Transcript

Doug:                       Well Hi, I’m Doug

Andrea:                  And I’m Andrea.

Doug:                       We are so glad that you are here today and if this is your first time welcome and we look forward to having you on many more of these episodes with us and there’s a bunch of great ones behind us that are super helpful as well, but we want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. So Dr. Leman. I was thinking about this episode releases on September 11th, which obviously is a day that changed our country and terrorism became a common word in our lexicon and you just wrote a book called ‘When Your Kid Is Hurting’ and you really helped identify these things that are important to us, but how do I deal with the reality of all these things that I’m afraid of and my kids are afraid of? How do I know which ones are the real ones, the wrong ones? How does this book help me figure this whole thing out?

Dr. Leman:           Well, I think it helps put it in perspective. The things that I call, the out there experiences of life. Yes the school shooting, the terrorism that exists. They’re out there, but my analogy is simple. Take a rock and drop it in a lake, a lake where there’s no wind on the surface, it’s just mirror, just like a glass. Drop that rock in the lake and watch what happens. The ripples originate where? At the place where the rock hits the water, and so it is with stress in our lives. With Kids who are hurting, you have to work starting out from the home. Some of those ripples that are so far removed, are they important? Very. I mean 9/11. How many people will ever forget the tragedy that day? That’s where the [inaudible 00:02:12] but school shootings, terrorism, yeah.

All those things are out there, but do they affect your son or daughter’s disposition? Attitudes, feelings about themselves. What really affects your kids self-perception, their personality, their development is the relationships which are fluid and dynamic between who? Between them and their siblings in between them and mom and dad. So this book gives you a way of realizing that the tough days are there. I mean the subtitle of the book is, Helping Your Child Through the Tough Days. There are tough days ahead for your son or your daughter. I’m here to tell you the peer group is not the nicest, kindest group of people ever. They’re mean and vicious and very hurtful and it’s both genders, girls and boys. So this book sort of helps you figure out, you know what If I have a relationship with my son or daughter that’s healthy, that’s built upon mutual respect.

My daughter or my son, when they’re hurting, is going to end up coming to me because they trust me and I’m going to be a difference maker in that kid’s life, not by solving the problem, but by listening through empathy, through understanding, and then the payoff is when your son or daughter comes to you and says, “Dad, what should I do?” And it’d be easy to step into your, fix it man mentality and tell your kid what to do, but that’s not gonna help your kid because he has to face that himself. And so we talk about running toward the sea or whatever the fear is. You have to run toward it and that goes for kids as well as adults. So anyway, I think we work from the inside out. This book is very practical, helps you get your arms around the psychological nature of what kids are all about or what they need from you as a parent.

And if you read this book, my guarantee is you will go back and read this book again. You use it as sort of a reference guide and there’s a Q and A section on the back that I think is really pretty good. All those questions come from real life people who are hurting, someone they love is hurting. And so people always ask me, how do you keep things so down to earth and so fresh? Well, because I communicate with people all the time through Facebook and other endeavors.

Doug:                       Well, I wholeheartedly endorsed the book. You can get it anywhere books are sold, all major retailers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookstores, wherever you are. And it is jam packed with information, especially the Q and A spot. And if you go to dr.leman.com and order the book there, you could actually get it autographed. So which is pretty stinking cool. Okay. So Dr. Leman, humorous story-ish. So we are recording, talking about when your kid is hurting. And last night we had a unique experience in our house. It doesn’t happen every night here. And Mrs. [Turpin 00:05:20] was involved in quite a excitement with her kids.

Andrea:                  I’m excited about this episode because we’re going to talk about whether or not we’re enablers kind of parents or helpful parents and you go over that in this book. So I had one child upset because they had messed up on something and they were beating themselves up. Why do I feel like I have to be perfect? And then I turned around after trying to listen to that child and figure out how to respond. Well, and I have another child tell me that, “So we’re headed into fair week and we show animals at the fair.” I asked them all last week, “Do you have all the clothes you need for show?” And I tried to do the good Dr. Leman thing and not keep pestering them and go check their closets.

And last night I hear, “I need a white shirt.” And of course, I wanted to blow up. “Well, I asked you last week.” But I got to learn how to step back, listen and put the ball in their court. But this child was obviously hurting because they felt like they blown it. They were not perfect and then it trailed into all kinds of things about imperfection and I tried to step back and say, “Well how are you going to solve this because we did talk about it last week.” And anyway, so I’m curious to see how you would respond.

Doug:                       Oh, but she didn’t tell you the real part of the story Dr. Leman, there was yelling and screaming and, “You hate me.”

Andrea:                  Well, yeah. And I’m not perfect like the other child.

Doug:                       I actually heard, “And you love the other child more than I do and I can’t do this without you mom.” And then I actually heard you step in and solve part of the problem for the kids as well.

Andrea:                  Did I step in to solve part of it?

Doug:                       Yeah you did. You started telling them what to do and where to go for it.

Andrea:                  I said she needed to do, she-

Doug:                       Yeah.

Andrea:                  No, no, no.

Doug:                       Okay. So Dr. Leman help us. I mean if you’d have been here you’d have heard screaming actually in the house.

Dr. Leman:           Let me be the enabler parent.

Andrea:                  Okay. Do you want me to be the child?

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. You be the child, I will be the enabling parent and then we’ll come back and then I’ll try to be the helpful parent. And you guys can tell me how I did.

Andrea:                  Okay. ‘So dad I need a white shirt for show on Thursday.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey that shouldn’t be a problem, we have a lot of white shirts in this house.”

Andrea:                  “Well, but it needs to fit me right. For showing, at fair, I can’t just have any old T- shirt. It’s got to have a color. And I checked my closet and I thought I had one but it’s gone now. I think I outgrew it, so I actually need one for Thursday.”

Dr. Leman:           “All right listen. If you don’t tell your mother I will run you into town right now. Okay. I have a lot of work to do.”

Andrea:                  “Thanks.”

Dr. Leman:           “I have a whole report that has to be due by Tuesday to my regional director, but quietly go on go.”

Andrea:                  “Dad you are the best. Thanks. Mom would be so mad if she knew. Thank you dad.”

Dr. Leman:           “You’re welcome sweetheart.” That is the parent that sees the problem, okay, and undoubtedly probably knew that his wife, said, “Hey, are we ready? We’ve got this big showing next week at four h, blah blah blah.” So Dad is trying to be liked by his kid. He’s the Disneyland dad. He’s going to give them everything they need. Okay. Now bear with me for a moment because let me just switch gears here and my wife mails me. Okay. Is, “I’m coming back from getting you a white shirt.” “Lemmy Lemmy Where have you been?” I just ran out of town, I had to pick up a thing.” “And where is our daughter?” “She went around the other side of the house.” “What is going on?” “Well, she needed a shirt.” “A shirt, you didn’t go down and get her a shirt, did you?” “Yeah.”

“Honey, I asked her over a week ago was she ready for the showing and she assured me she was. And I found out this morning that she’s not ready. Sometimes I think I have five children instead of four.” I asked her, I said, “Oh, this is a big problem. How are you gonna handle it. Oh, I see how you’re handling it. You’re handling it by doing what she should be doing for herself. I am telling you’re just a little too much. Really? I thought we were trying to get them on the same page in this family.”

Now I asked you five minutes earlier, were you angry with each other? No you weren’t. Let’s see what happens it escalates. And it goes from the parent child relationship to parent relationship. Before long, everybody’s mad at everybody. Why? Because this parent has this incessant need to fix things, running interference for the child and makes excuses for the child’s behavior. So where does that put us? It puts us with two parents going in a different direction and that is absolutely a prescription for disaster.

Andrea:                  So not only are you hurting the kid, but you’re hurting your relationship with your spouse.

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. So in the book, what I did was try to contrast so the reader could see the enabler parent and I’ve got a little outline for them in the book, but then I turn around and talk about the helpful parent. And let me just share with you the helpful parent. They’re authentic and honest about the truth. So in this case, the parent might say, “Wow, honey, I got to share it. I’m disappointed. I remember clearly the conversation we had last week and you were all set. And I find out you weren’t set. Well, I’m not quite sure what to say. I guess I’d like to hear how you’re gonna solve it because clearly, your problem and not mine.” Now what we’ve done there is we’ve expressed our disappointment in the child. Some people are saying, “Hey, wait a minute, are you punching up guilty buttons on this kid?” Maybe, but I wouldn’t suggest that it’s good guilt, you’re calling a spade, a spade. You’re telling the truth. You’re being authentic. That’s the helpful parent.

And again, the helpful parent lets reality reign in all situations. We say, let the reality of the situation become the teacher of the child. Well, what’s the reality of the situation? There’s not a clean white shirt. How does this end up being a teachable moment for a child? If you interfere, you run interference and you do for the child. Nothing is learned, so it’s not the sin of all sins to forget the shirt, but there needs to be a teachable moment so that doesn’t continue throughout their life. So anyway, I just contrast the enabler parent with the helpful parent and the helpful parent is always honest. They keep their cool. They’re not judgmental, but they’re honest and that means calling a spade, a spade. So if that helps, it’s sort of like the difference in the authoritarian parent and the permissive parent.

Andrea:                  So Dr. Leman, could you role play that helpful parent? That would help me because that was what I was trying to figure out last night on the fly. Like, oh, how do I respond?

Dr. Leman:           Okay. You be the kid I am all yours. I will be the helpful parent.

Andrea:                  Okay. “Dad I realize I checked in my closet, and I need a shirt for tomorrow for fair. A white shirt with a collar and I’ll be the last one, so I thought I had one, but I don’t.”

Dr. Leman:           “Oh no, oh honey I am so sorry. Oh my goodness. Oh, you are in deep [inaudible 00:13:24] aren’t you?”

Andrea:                  “Yeah. Fair is in two days.”

Dr. Leman:           “Wow. I wish I had something.” [crosstalk 00:13:33]

Andrea:                  “Could you take me to the store?”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey, i’d love nothing better than to help you out. But I have reports that are due in to my regional director on Tuesday and I’m behind now. It’s a long way into town. Oh Gosh, I’d love to help you out, but I have to say no. I’m so sorry.”

Andrea:                  “Why don’t we do it tonight? We could get it over with tonight.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey. You know your dad well enough. [inaudible 00:14:01] I’m unable to help you.”

Andrea:                  “What am I supposed to do?”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey I have no idea what you’re supposed to do.”

Andrea:                  “You’ve backed me into a corner now I’m supposed to show and now I’m just like this failure and so imperfect, I know I supposed to do it last week and now I feel full of shame and stupid.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey, we all make mistakes, we all make mistakes. This is a big one. It’s important, maybe you’ll figure out a way to figure it out by the time you have to get to the judging stand.”

Andrea:                  “Dad I can’t believe you are doing this to me.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey listen.”

Andrea:                  “I am just so stupid.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey you know the blame game doesn’t work with me.”

Andrea:                  I’m just stupid, stupid imperfect. I can’t ever measure up, and you like my sister better because she always does it right.”

Dr. Leman:           “Honey listen, if you want to believe those lies. The last four five things you said are all lies. It’s one thing to lie to somebody else, it’s a whole another thing to lie to yourself. Now you look in the mirror and say those things and ask yourself if you’re telling yourself the truth, the truth of the matter is you’re angry at yourself because you forgot to get ready and your mother, God bless her. She’s like the walk and reminder of the world. She reminded you well in advance so this day wouldn’t happen, but you knew best, and you didn’t do it. So if you want to create lies in your mind like we love your sister more than we love you, any of that nonsense, you can do that. Quite frankly, I’m very disappointed that you’d even think that. Because you know it isn’t true. Just suck it up. Figure out the way to deal with this, and we’ll see how life goes. Life happens.”

Andrea:                  This is where you would ask a child, I’d like to hear how you’re going to solve it?

Dr. Leman:           You don’t have to am sorry you said [inaudible 00:15:57] anxious to see how-

Andrea:                  How it’s gonna work out

Dr. Leman:           Yeah.

Doug:                       So Dr. Leman, they don’t have a way to get in town. They don’t have a way to get a shirt, and they show up in fair in two days, and they have nothing, or they have something wrong. Do you just let it happen?

Dr. Leman:           Yeah, failure helps. Ask anybody who’s successful in life? And here’s my question back to the parents of this child. Do you think this will ever happen again?

Andrea:                  No.

Dr. Leman:           So lets move along. So what’s the worst thing that can happen if that shirt doesn’t appear?

Andrea:                  They will just-

Doug:                       They either won’t show or there’ll be super embarrassed.

Dr. Leman:           The realities of life are great teachers to us. Better for that child to learn that now at the tender age of what?

Doug:                       16.

Dr. Leman:           16.

Doug:                       Than to learn at age 23 on her first real full time job out of college.

Andrea:                  So Dr. Leman how does this apply to a kid who is hurt? For whatever reason when they’re hurting, how does the enabler negatively affect the kid who’s got inside hurt versus a healthy parent?

Dr. Leman:           Well, the kid that has the enabler parent, that parent is going to solve the problem for the kid, so the kid doesn’t really learn how to problem solve or take the initiative or become responsible because they got somebody else to do it. On top of that, when that somebody else does it, whether it be mom or dad, they’re now in a position where they can make a judgment and say, “Mom, that’s not what I needed. That’s not what you got me the wrong size. You got me the wrong one. I would never wear that.” Now, how about the heresy of, so parents you were not put on this earth to be ran over by 16 year old, 14 year old, eight year old or four year old be the parent pony up. Those are you out the wild west cowboy up.

Doug:                       So if my daughter comes home, and she’s crying because x, Y, and Z, she wore an outfit that wasn’t so beautiful and one of the kids made a snarky remark about it and she’s now devastated that everybody laughs at her and think she’s ugly. What would it enabler parent do that would make that worse in that situation?

Dr. Leman:           Well, she might intercede, call the kids parent. Call the kid, call the teacher. Call the principal. And get the parents involved. Once you get the parents involved, and the kids are or over something, it just gets worse when parents come in, rarely does the problem get solved by having a parent enter, so the enabler has got them … They just can’t stand the fact that their kid is unhappy or hurting, can use our term, but the hurting and all probability was either a directors out of a kid just being nasty to another kid and again, I wouldn’t say that any kid or any parent, hey, life happens. There’s so much talk about bullying today, and most parents will report to me their kid is bullied. When I look at the situation, they really weren’t bullied. They were just subject to a very unkind, nasty, [inaudible 00:19:06] thinking person.

Doug:                       How would the helpful parent respond to that kid who had that hurtful statement made to her?

Dr. Leman:           Well, I think mostly with compassion, that, ‘Honey that that had to hurt. I can see why you responded the way you have. I’m sure that brings out some of the worst feelings you have for another human being, but you’re not asking the question, but I’ll just share one thing. If I may. Do you mind if I share something with you?” And the kid says, “Sure.” And I say, “Well, the reality is that everybody in life is not going to treat you well. This isn’t the first time somebody dissed you and it’s not going to be last. So you’re going to have to decide how you want to handle these things in life because they’re going to continue well into your years. When you’re middle age, you’re going to have people say inappropriate things to you, hurt your feelings, and you’re going to have to learn to either lovingly confront that situation or maybe you’re just going to blow those things off.

Maybe you’re going to pretend they didn’t happen, but I can tell you one thing about human beings. We don’t gravitate toward people that make us feel uncomfortable and so once something like this happens, if you’re like most people, and you don’t associate with that kid anymore, that’s the broken relationship. That was never resolved in a healthy way, so there’s unhealthy ways to handle it and there’s healthy ways of handling. Again, if you want my input, I’ll be glad to share it with you. I think the healthier way is to get in touch with your feelings and effectively communicate that to this other kid I need to start with. You know what? I’m really not trying to be judgmental but Frankie. I’m just trying to be factual. I just think you ought to know that what you said to me the other day really hurt my feelings, and I thought it was a deliberate cheap shot for what it’s worth.”

Now, whether the other kid ponies up and says, “I’m sorry.” And that relationship gets back on track. Who knows? It may not. But at least that kid had the satisfaction of talking about how she really feels, so I’d vote for something like that. Most kids will just avoid this situation. They won’t do anything.

Doug:                       Well, this is why I think this book is so good because you actually walk us through the times when we need to speak up, when we don’t need to speak up, when we need to help our kids understand things like this and when to not understand things like this. And you talk about how … And you have all these charts in here or pull outs about it am I an enabler. Am I being healthy? Am I being too perfectionist? That helped me see like you said that if I get it right I can help my kids get it right, and I just like … I wish everybody could read the book so that you’d be able to have that inner confidence and peace to know that when your kid is hurting, what is the next step I need to take in this situation for my kid and Dr. Leman lays it out perfectly for you.

He walks you through it and just like he said, they’re like, I would never have thought to treat my kid that way, but that’s the perfect way to talk to my kids and I … You said it at the beginning. It’s a book that you reference again and again because you’re right. There are those situations that you describe in the book that helped me understand. So go buy the book. You’ll thank me later, and you can write me a thank you note. I’ll take it and for buying it. It’s wherever you want at any major retailers, you can get them there. You can go to dr.leman.com to buy the book. And also we just want to thank our friends at Reval again for helping us make this podcast happen for your sake so that you can grow in your parenting toolbox, and we love being with you and we hope that you have an incredible day. And if you want the confidence on how to raise kids as a healthy parent, go buy the book, and you won’t regret it. So take care.

Andrea:                  Have a great day

Doug:                       All right guys. Bye. Bye.