Are You an Enabling Parent?

What a Sunday morning surprise! We went from a winter storm warning Saturday night to just a sprinkle of snow and bright sunshine in the morning. Although I feel sorry for those up north who are still digging out from the final blow of winter, I must admit I enjoyed Sunday’s sunshine immensely.

Our topic in Sunday school this week (and next week, too, if you’re interested) is “Becoming God’s Friend.” We had a great conversation about friendship and how each of us describes our own relationship with God. I’m thankful for our small, yet animated, group. No matter what the discussion, I end up taking as much away from class as anyone else. If you don’t have a group, join us Sunday morning at 10 a.m. We always have coffee!

Since I can’t be in Greenfield during the week, I’m looking forward to the Good Friday community service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, sponsored by the ministerial alliance. This is one of the services each year when Christians from our area churches gather to affirm the one truth that holds us together: The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Last year’s service was a tremendous blessing to me, and I’m eager to see many of you again.

One more schedule “note.” On Easter Sunday our worship schedule will change as follows: Morning fellowship from 9:30 – 9:50 a.m., Easter Sunday worship 10 a.m. Please note the time change.


Are you an enabling parent? “An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors” (When Helping Hurts: Are You an Enabling Parent? by Allison Bottke, on We as parents are tempted to try to “fix” our children’s lives, whether it means getting them out of trouble or making excuses for their behavior, failures, etc. Granted, this article isn’t usually about “pop” psychology, but the other day a friend and I were talking about this same issue, but with another parent—God.

Ms. Bottke, in the article mentioned above, makes a distinction between “helping” and “enabling.” “Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself. Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself.” Unfortunately, today many of us spend our time and money trying to make up for one thing or another in our children’s lives, thus enabling their negative behaviors.

What does this have to do with God? We have a tendency to treat God as an enabling parent. We continue our dysfunctional or detrimental behaviors and then beg God for the “fix” that will make up for all we have or haven’t done. We serve a forgiving, renewing, restoring God. So, is there a problem with coming to God for help? Never! But there is a problem when we attempt to use God’s love as a magic wand to get us out of the consequences of our chronic life choices.

Just as we do (or should do) with our children, God holds us accountable for our decisions, actions, and words. He helps us when we need it, but God also requires us to make progress in our Christian walk, to grow beyond our repetitive, destructive behaviors. God hears us when we pray and answers prayer. Yet, the answer we receive may not always be to our liking. As a healthy parent, God will often bring things into our lives to make us responsible and stable Christians. I believe this is the reason some people become angry at God and quit attending church: they don’t want to change.

Listen to your prayers tonight. Are you praying to a loving, nurturing God, who requires growth and maturity in his children? Or are you reinventing God into an enabling parent who prolongs your weaknesses and makes up for your choices? The first option is only possible when we turn our lives over to God, admit our weaknesses, and ask God to help us change them, not make up for them.

Want to continue the conversation? Go to my weblog at or e-mail me at

Go to church on Sunday. God’s not the only one looking forward to seeing you!

Mary Kay Glunt


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