Enable or empower are two words that evoke a specific strength and meaning. Within parenting, we must be very mindful of this. One tends to bring about negative reinforcement, a sense of entitlement.

The other brings a more positive that promotes self-reliance and confidence. So the impact and how they are applied in our lives will either help us grow or hold us back. How do you enable or empower? Let’s go over it. 

The Terms Defined

Webster’s Dictionary might help shed some light on this for us.


To give legal power, capacity, or sanction to. So when we enable our child, we are approving their negative or non-working actions.


To give a title to or to furnish with proper grounds for seeking or claiming something. 

So when we enable and don’t take steps to correct, we entitle our child to keep doing the same things. When this happens, it will become more challenging to control, guide, and teach. 


To promote the self-actualization or influence of.

So when we empower our child, we provide them with positive skills and tools for life’s journey. Unfortunately, today’s lifestyles have us as parents so busy running a thousand miles a minute, in a thousand different directions.

So what is happening? Because of the lack of time spent as a family talking and investing in each other, we as parents look for substitutes to fill the voids. 

This is done many ways, here are just a few: 

• Are you buying them extra clothes, shoes, etc. so they feel good about themselves and fit in? 

• Maybe you’re buying them cell phones, iPods, computers, jewelry, cars on their demand/request. 

• Sometimes you might be giving them money or the credit cards to stop them from hounding you. 

• Others you are maybe making deals & compromises on grades, breaking the rules, etc. 

Empowering or Enabling

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be on a slippery road that leads no place right.

Your child feels like they have a bit more power and control. From my experience, when you give in an inch, they will take a yard.

Remember to stay healthy and show a united front, that both parents are on the same page. If you don’t stay healthy, you do your child a disservice. 

The enabling and entitling may lead to them believing they are untouchable, and they answer to no one. So how do you address this for better working results? Don’t blame society, the schools, your spouse, and not your child. 

Here are some simple, helpful steps: 

• Empower yourself. Prioritize life and take accountability for non-working things in your life. 

• Have open, two-way communication – Don’t judge them when they come to talk to you. 

• Set your rules & boundaries – Establish consequences & praise/rewards for actions. Enforce this. 

• Give regular praise for good, working choices – Don’t always be looking for negatives. 

• Motivate with love, not fear. 

• Continue with open, two-way communication – This will help develop a relationship with increased trust and respect. 

• Role model in your life what you want your child to do and be like. 

So, enable or empower. The choice is yours.

Hold them close, but don’t smother them. Love them, but don’t enable them. And, keep it simple with the basic, but sound rules that you enforce consistently. Take care, and use Positive Parenting!”