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Are You Crippling Your Kids?  Tough Love Rx for Parents by Fern Weis, Parent + Family Recovery Coach

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

When you rescue, fix or overindulge kids, they begin to believe that they cannot do for themselves. They question their own worth and competence. They depend more on you, less on themselves. This is when you begin to label them as lazy, unmotivated and apathetic, with no sense of self or purpose. Is this what you really want for them, and for you? To be takers and enablers?

Sometimes I have to do the ‘tough love’ thing with parents. You may be annoyed with me for pushing you, but you can take it, and so can I. It’s not just teenagers I’m talking about. These patterns start much earlier and parents are the culprits. (I’m saying ‘you’, and please understand that I’ve been there, too.)

  • When your child makes a mistake and you criticize or judge, you belittle. When you find the learning opportunity, you empower.

  • When you give her more than she needs, she will take things for granted. When you give her what she needs and have her work towards what she wants, she will learn commitment, responsibility, appreciation and gratitude.

  • When you ask your child for help and your perfectionist nature says, ‘not good enough,’ you diminish. When you are hurried and frazzled and end up doing it yourself, you diminish. When you accept help and praise the effort, you empower.

  • When you are the benevolent or terrified fixer, you send the message that he is helpless and should be scared of life. When you encourage him to take a chance, maybe even fail, he hears that he is capable and resilient.

  • When you give in or give up because it’s easier than dealing with wheedling and whining, you encourage self-centered, manipulative, even helpless behavior. When you stand your ground and set limits, kids learn to manage frustration and deal with disappointment.

You are not powerless to influence your children, even though some days you feel that way. Every day, in every moment, you have the power and opportunity to move them a step closer to confidence and independence, and higher self-esteem. Will you take it?


1. Where do you see unproductive attitudes in your children? In you?

2. What would you like to see instead?

3. When do you ignore your ‘inner guidance system’? Are you angry, hungry, worried, fearful, in a rush?

4. Think of a time when you enabled or overindulged your child. What did he learn? How might you handle that situation differently the next time?

Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.

Learn more about coaching and classes at And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit

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