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How to teach your child to be happily empowered, not a trapped codependent

communication emelligence Jun 06, 2021

Whether it's your actual or inner child that needs to hear this,

you are not ever responsible for anyone else's feelings and always responsible for your own.

When you think you are responsible for someone else's feelings, or your positive feelings about yourself rely on you hearing good things about you from the other person, you are codependent...and that needs to change because you are modelling codependency to your children and other confused adults.

"What is co-dependency?

Co-dependency is a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving developed during childhood by family rules. Often associated with responses learned from being in relationships where dependency issues exist (drugs, alcohol), co-dependency also explains compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress.

It is our darling children who learn these compulsive coping behaviours and then grow into codependent adults looking for counter dependent relationships.

Here's the good news:

If codependency is learned it can also be unlearned.

Cleaning up your own adult relationships and the messages you give your children is important for your children’s functional emotional growth.

You may be codependent if you are subconsciously teaching your children the ongoing following life beliefs (teaching can be passive and happen through children observing the below patterns between you with your partner):

  • My good feelings about you stem from being liked by you.
  • My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.
  • Your struggles affect my security.
  • My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.
  • My self esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.
  • My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.
  • My mental attention is focused on protecting you.
  • My mental attention is focused on manipulating you, “to do it my way.”
  • My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.
  • Your clothing and personal appearance is dictated by my desires as I believe you are a reflection of me.
  • Your behaviour is dictated by my desires as I believe you are a reflection of me.
  • I am not aware of how I feel, I am aware of how you feel. I am not aware of what I want, I ask what you want. If I am not aware, I assume.
  • The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.
  • My fear of rejection determines what I say and do.
  • My fear of your anger determines what I say and do.
  • I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.
  • My social circle diminishes as I involve my self with you again.
  • I put my values aside in order to connect with you.
  • I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
  • The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.

Do you recognise your own codependent behaviour? To begin breaking the insidious nature of codependency you need to today start setting boundaries, dealing with manipulation, and improving your emotional intelligence (ask Megan about doing an online course for this).

Co and Counter Dependent Relationships: which one will your child choose?

The relationships we choose and the way we are in relationships have a lot to do with what we learnt in our childhood.

Above, we saw that the life beliefs we unwittingly give our children. If we train our children to be codependent, it stands to reason that our kids may enter into relationships with counter dependents. Co and counter dependency go together: they are strongly attracted to each other and once involved can become locked into an unhappy and dysfunction pattern of relationship survival.

These two addictive relationships are in themselves unhealthy and dysfunctional: Counter dependency is compulsive by nature and codependency, apathetic. Codependents seek out counter dependents and counter dependents rely on codependents making the counter dependent feel good. The head spins!

You now know what codependency is - counter dependency is opposite. A counter dependent will:

  •  invade other’s boundaries,
  • have grandiose ideas and live in a delusional world filled with fantasy of dominance, 
  • have an exaggerated sense of strength and power,
  • present as independent: they don’t need anyone, only trust themselves, are great at blaming their partner for anything that goes wrong, hook up with people who mirror back the counter dependents strengths and cover over the counter’s weaknesses and inadequacies,
  • be self centered and believe it a virtue,
  • be insensitive to other’s needs and feelings,
  • exploit their partners care taking,
  • be aware that their partner will never expose the destructive and inadequate behaviour of the counter,
  • be fearful of getting trapped and engulfed by a partner so they fight harder to stay strong and in control of others.

Unfortunately, it is really common for co-dependents to also be counter dependents in a different relationship...because they've learned that's how to get power :(

In the interests of child safety, your own relationship with your adult partner needs to be healthy and a replica of what you want for your own child. Do you need to perhaps do some work on your relationship for the sake of your children’s future?

Here's a favourite co and counter dependent story of mine

A man found a snake. Although it was frozen, he recognised it as a poisonous snake. He picked the poor thing up and took it home to revive it. He placed the snake in front of the fire to thaw. Once thawed, he bent down to give it a nice little saucer of milk. The snake lifted its head and bit the good man. As the man lay dying he asked the snake, “How could you do this to me after all I have done for you?” As the snake slid out the door, it turned to the good man and said, “Stop your whinging. You knew I was a poisonous snake when you picked me up. What else did you expect me to do?!”  (Respect, Aug 1996)

How many times have we all done something similar to the above story? Given the relationship training we received as children, we may still be starting relationships even though we recognize them as venomous or toxic and that we may get hurt.

Understanding the nature of co and counter dependency helps us to see the warning signs and avoid being bitten.

It is time to examine your role in co and counter dependency and to change the relationship for the sake of your children.  But, warning, a relationship will only improve if both parties agree to change and work on their own dysfunctional patterns.

Click here for some communication strategies

that you can immediately use to begin your journey toward empowerment rather than co or counter dependency. Download them and then book in for a free half hour session with me and let's talk about how to use them in your everyday life and journey toward empowerment.

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