What I Learned from My 600 Pound Life: Enablers & the Enabled

For weeks, I have been watching the reality-tv show called My 600 pound Life.

I’ve been fascinated by the stories of overweight people participating on the show.

At first I couldn’t understand why. How does a person get this big? And these people, who are hardly obese, surrounding them and that live with them: Why do they continue to serve them large overflowing plates of food? Why are they letting them eat their way to death, literally?

Suddenly I realized, it is a dynamic. A toxic dynamic. One in which there is the enabler and the enabled dancing a dance, playing a role and each deriving payoff from remaining in those perverted dynamics.

Enabler vs the Enabled

The enabler gives the food to be needed, to have a purpose, to avoid being present in their own lives and living in full capacity. Rather they divert that involvement in their own lives by allowing someone else to need them so that they feel like they have a purpose.

The enabled gets to avoid being responsible for their own life, to be held accountable and held to a high standard.

I believe parents and their grown up children may experience the same phenomenon.

Remember when you were a child,  you had no responsibilities to what you will eat, how you will be registered into school, how you would be provided for , how you would be healthy. All responsibility to keep these things in mind was laid on the steward or stewards: your parents and other supplementary adults.

But to remain a child once you’re grown-up is to not be present in your life.  To remain a child is to not be responsible of the actions that move your life’s course from one point to the next.

Living out our capabilities as uncrippled adults in mind, thought, body and activity is an important step of maturity.

A Lesson from the Parable of Talents

In the parable of the talents (or investments, as some modern translators have it) in the bible, the master leaves on an extended trip. But before leaving he delegates responsibility to his stewards/employees. To one steward he gives R5000, to another R3000 and so forth.

Upon his return he finds that the first and second steward have doubled his investments. He then says to them, “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”

Here the master has come back to claim what is his own. He no longer needs the stewards to look after his investments. Leaving the implication that they need to find another purpose besides this.

It seems to me that parents arrive at a similar destination at some point during the course of the upbringing of their children.

Discovering a New Purpose

Once their children have grown up, parents too need to go to the master and say, “Master, what is the next thing you would have me do? What is the next thing you would have me responsible for? Give me, entrust me with more responsibility, master, because it fulfills me and I derive my purpose from it. If it is no longer to raise children, then delegate to me the next ‘talent’ to grow for you.”

Parents cannot want their reward to be that they are given power over matured investments (ie. that is their children). They cannot continue to exercise authority over their children when that season has come to an end.

If as an adult you allow that to happen because you don’t want to hurt your parents’ feelings, because you don’t want to offend them, then you have bought into the lie. You have bought into the gospel of fear.

To child an adult is a perverted form of care. Anyone who wants you to remain in this kind of relationship is delaying your growth.

To vote confidently, to bet on your child’s ability to think for themselves and take care of themselves, is the highest endorsement any parent can give.

In-house writer

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