Helping or Enabling?

It’s a fine line between helping someone and enabling someone. This is heavy on my heart today due to family matters. At what point do I realize my “helping” is really hurting.


I have always had a passion in my heart to help other. There are many times with I feed the homeless (today I gave a pear to the man sitting on the side of the road with the sign that said hungry anything helps.) I have organized larger version of this were we went down town and fed many homeless and gave them clothes etc. I am the person that if I know of a single mom who need a night off I will volunteer to watch the kids. If there is someone I know who needs help at work, home, moving, etc. I am always offering my help or to organize the help of others. So when it is my own family I am even more so willing to do anything necessary. For example, my parents have helped myself and my husband financially many times. My husband focused on school for a year and had no job during that time to get closer to his goal of being an RN. I was working a lot; however, there were week when we just couldn’t make it. They would bring us groceries or help pay a bill. Now my parents are going through an extremely stressful time so we are doing anything and everything possible in this time to help financially lessen the burden on them. We pay for the whole families phone bills and pay down a credit card etc. We are very happy to do this.


The difficult decision comes into play with my sister. I have 3 younger sisters, they are all very heard working, happy go lucky, floating through life. The first one pay’s her bills on time every time. The last one is too young to work yet but is super smart and is excelling in school. The middle one is struggling.

I love her with all my heart and I want to help her, but my husband has come to the conclusion that we are enabling her. I agree with this but it is hard to see someone in your family make stupid decisions when you know their life could be 100 times better if they would just listen to a little advice and make better decisions.

She called and asked if I would co-sign a car loan for her today. To which I know my husband would say no. Plus my credit is not good enough for a loan either. My husband and I are paying off debt right now not taking out loans. Even though I was sweet on the phone and told her I would not be able to she asked if she could call and ask my husband if he would, because my parents already told her no. My dad taught me growing up buy things in cash. Don’t be a slave to the lender. O boy is it true, if you owe someone something you become their slaved tied down to places and jobs you may not want because you have to pay back this debt.

I did not tell her no only for financial reasons however. It saddens me to say, but I don’t trust her. You see I just bought her a plane ticket to come home. She took of to Colorado to see her “ex-boyfriend” Whom all of my family dislikes and has told her that he is no good for her. She deserves so much more in life because she is amazing and talented. But no matter how great you are we all make poor choices in rebellion at some point in our life. So she went to go visit him and told us all it was for legal reasons, that he was in jail etc. The layers supposedly had bought her tickets there and back and she would be gone a few days…. Well she called and said she wasn’t coming back and she was several time till a month had gone by. She finally called for help and said she wanted to come home. So I bought her a one way ticket home for my mothers birthday. I love her, I want her to make right choices, but I can’t trust her enough to co-sign a car loan. If she were to driver her car back to another state again and not come back it would put a strain on our relationship as sisters and I don’t want to destroy that.

It may be a hard decision but my love for my family is more important than my families instant gratification. I thought enabling only applied to those who struggled with drugs and always came to people for money. But I am learning that enabling can be as simple as bailing someone out of a situation when the truth is that was their turning moment. Don’t get me wrong. I am super happy my sister is back home, and out of what I think is a bad situation. I want her to travel, I want her to see the world, I want her to achieve her dreams. I also want her to know she is loved, that she can always ask for help, but I also want her to make decision that will improve her life and not destroy it.

So I will continue to walk this fine line hoping I don’t fall off the side of helping to enabling.

Any advise in the comments would be appreciated from those who have walked this fine life before.


13 thoughts on “Helping or Enabling?

  1. I know a very similar example, it lasted for many many years, when the others stop “helping” that person He was angry of course. What’s important their stress is smaller now because He is not asking for help anymore as I know, or maybe not so often like before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re right, it is a very fine line. The way I’ve tried to look at it is that life has valuable lessons to teach us, and if me stepping in to help is getting in the way of one of those lessons, I’ve probably crossed that boundary into enabling.

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  3. I like the bible quotes in here and believe that a good read through of the book of proverbs would continually shed light on your situation. At least it would help staunch the flow of guilt over not helping/enabling your sisters questionable behavior. As someone who has been taken advantage when it comes to loaning out money, debt is a deep pit and hard to escape from, avoid it and stay on your game.

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  4. If she is young then she’s young enough to learn by her mistakes. The more you bail her out the longer it will take for her to learn or otherwise may never learn. Rather turn blame on others. Love her and emotionally support her and stay in close communication, because if she makes bad choices at least she knows she’s loved and supported x

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  5. My Friend, You are doing an amazing job. I know that it’s very hard to see your loved ones going in the wrong direction. Somehow they make certain choices in their lives without seeing their repercussions. I can relate with how you feel about that. I know it’s hard for you to say “No” to your own blood. But please don’t feel bad because I feel -” you are doing what you believe in and that’s all any of us can do… That’s all any of us should do”

    God bless and More power to you 😇

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a difficult concept for us as empathic individuals… especially when involving a loved one. At points, we feel it’s our duty to help them BECAUSE we love them. Heck! At times, they even feel that way about us. “If you loved me you would help me.” But the harsh truth is that if we are never allowed to fully feel how difficult things can be, we will always put ourselves back in those same situations. Sometimes the things that keep us from feeling the severity of things involves illicit substances, but other times it could simply be a family member always bailing us out before we see any real consequences.
    No one wants to see someone they care for suffer… but some of the most evolved and beautiful people have been through things we couldn’t even imagine. The reason they become the people that they are is normally because they went there, they felt everything there was to feel, and they made it through knowing they are capable of that and so much more after.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My sister and I both have a very simple policy when it comes to helping out family. We only do it once.

    If anyone comes to either of us asking for financial help, they will get that help once; no questions asked, no expectation of repayment. However, after that, the answer will always be “no”. Obvious exceptions for major emergencies and disasters exist, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Move – The Choices We Make | Let's Talk Depression

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