Ever heard of "Failure to Launch"? It's a counseling term that describes a parent/child relationship where a child remains dependent on their parent into their adult years.
They may or may not still live at home, but they depend on their parents for emotional support or financial aid, or they expect their parents to validate their situation. They believe they can't be expected to move forward because of their extenuating circumstances.
Now, don't get me wrong, of course there are actually extenuating circumstances at times, but for the most part, there is something amiss in the expectations. Let me explain.
When someone feels the need to help someone else out by taking care of things for them when they are actually capable of caring for themselves, that is actually mean. It's infantizing. The result is that the person being "helped" doesn't grow up. Doesn't learn to do things for themselves. To adult.
It seems obvious when you look at it in certain ways:
- We would never carry around a teenager on our hip, a child needs to learn to walk on their own.
- We don't do our children's homework for them, they need to do it for themselves so they can learn.
- We don't pay our adult children's mortgages, they need to provide for their own families.
Doing those things WOULD actually be mean. Detachment is kind when you understand it this way.
- We want to tell other people how to run their lives, because we think we see things they don't see.
- We "rescue" people when they may need to feel the weight of where they are in order to be motivated to move forward. We elongate their season when we only meant to help.
- We step in with "reminders" and "encouragements" when it is painful to see people stuck in their same 'ol patterns.
This kind of attachment is not kind. This is where benevolent DOES fit with detachment.
BUT IT IS HARD!
I want to tell people what I think they should do. I want to warn them of the costs of the decisions they are considering. I want to alleviate the pain they are experiencing.
Instead of failing to launch them well, I am willing to keep them needing me. Isn't that more kind?
It's hard to watch a child learn to walk. They keep falling. They get bruised. It hurts them and those around them, but in the end, detaching yourself from their growing skills is not mean. Detachment is kindness in its God-given form.
Seeing how this works in the learning-to-walk word picture is easier than helping the people you love learn to be spiritually mature, financially stable, or confident decision makers. Learning to ask empowering questions can make all the difference!
We can help! We've trained hundreds of people in coaching culture. Some went on to be professional coaches, but honestly, most are using the skills they learned in their real everyday lives. Almost all of those who have taken the course came for a specific reason but found that the coaching principles they learned spilled over into other areas of their lives as well. Business managers also became better parents, minsters had better marriages, second career coaches had healthier personal lives.
Detachment could be the kindest next step you could take in building healthy relationships.
Check out our Benevolent Detachment series - #1 What is Benevolent Detachment? #2 What was God thinking? #3 How is Benevolent Detachment Actually Benevolent?
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