What Is 'Toxic Caretaking'? | Psychology Today Canada

What Is ‘Poisonous Caretaking’? | Psychology Right this moment Canada


Caretakers are a considerate and beneficiant lot; able to help, particularly for a good friend in want.

  • Want a trip to the airport?
  • Somebody to observe your pet?
  • Need to borrow a couple of bucks till payday?

No worries! The caretaker will probably be there. Empathic, loyal, form, devoted; what’s to not like? In spite of everything, who doesn’t like to be cared for?

When Caretaking Turns Poisonous

Not too long ago, a younger man who struggles with dependancy confessed that his father was supplying him with medication. This was notably surprising as a result of his father was paying for his son’s remedy classes and expressed concern about his son’s dependency on medication.

When confronted, the daddy turned enraged and defended enabling his son’s dependancy:

“Not less than I do know the medication that I’m giving him are clear. Safer than the medication he would purchase on the road!”

In a manner, he was proper. The medication could have been safer, however was supporting his son’s dependancy actually one of the best ways to assist him?

Sadly, because the younger man’s dependency elevated, the daddy couldn’t sustain along with his son’s calls for for extra medication. After the younger man survived a near-fatal overdose, his father got here to his senses and enrolled him in rehab.

I really consider the daddy thought that he was serving to his son. However in the long term, like all poisonous caretakers, he was doing extra hurt than good.

Indicators of Poisonous Caretaking

Not like unhealthy pals, poisonous caretaking could be tough to identify as a result of the caretakers steadily seem loving and beneficiant. What’s extra, poisonous caretaking steadily yields short-term advantages (see “How To Spot A Dangerous Pal”).

What’s behind the poisonous caretaker’s choices? Most frequently, their choices are pushed by worry. Slightly than face the fallout of confronting somebody about their habits, the poisonous caretaker chooses to help it. In a way, they select consolation over development, for themselves and the individual they look after (see “How Avoiding Battle Escalates Battle in Relationships”).

Poisonous caretaking behaviors embody:

  • Mendacity to guard a cherished one or good friend from detrimental penalties.
  • Not confronting a cherished one or good friend about their detrimental behaviors.
  • Passively or actively enabling a good friend or cherished one’s harmful selections.
  • Turning a blind eye to detrimental outcomes for worry of retaliation.

Towards Wholesome Caretaking

A wholesome caretaker is somebody who is not afraid to confront a good friend or cherished one about their detrimental behaviors. It could be tough, however in the long run, it’s a development selection for each people.

Wholesome caretaking behaviors embody:

  • Enabling and applauding a good friend or cherished one’s optimistic selections.
  • Supporting a good friend or cherished one’s development even throughout difficult occasions.
  • Stating harmful behaviors.
  • Expressing love and affection freely with out ulterior motives.

In the long run, comforting a good friend or cherished one about their poor selections isn’t impolite or imply; it’s an act of affection.


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