Are you raising a codependent? Codependency is rampant in our society and one of the reasons is because it can be handed down from generation to generation unknowingly.

So what are the warning signs and red flags that you should pay attention to and more importantly… how can you break the cycle?

If you’re a parent healing from codependency (go, YOU!), I’m going to guess that the last thing you want to do is pass on any codependent tendencies to your kids.

In this video and blog, I’m diving into what codependency in a parent/child relationship looks like in practice so you can raise your awareness around where you might be reinforcing dysfunctional patterns PLUS giving you some simple shifts you can make that can make all the difference! (#breakthecycle)

Prefer just the audio?
Click here to listen to the episode.



Parenting is preparing kids to have their own grand adventure in life…not expecting them to be our grand adventure.

A codependent parent has an unhealthy attachment to their child. There can be an expectation of undying devotion and obligation that falls outside of a healthy parent/child relationship. 

Sometimes, this dynamic can play out because the parent is somehow trying to make up for what they didn’t get in their own childhood. It’s so important to understand that adult codependency is rooted in the experiences we had growing up.

Codependency is a learned survival strategy. If you grew up in a chaotic family system, you might have adapted your behavior to ensure that as a child, you stayed emotionally safe. In order to stay safe, you learned that it was important to pay attention to the feeling states and needs of those around you and to put others first, always. You might have become hypervigilant about avoiding confrontation or conflict. While these behaviors might have served you to stay safe as a child, in adulthood, it can become maladaptive.

Raising a child to never rock the boat or to sweep things under the rug means never teaching them the skills they will need to have the hard conversations or to speak their authentic truth.

Quick love note: 

I want you to give yourself permission to be compassionate with yourself. Commit to approaching this information with an open heart and mind. You don’t need to beat yourself up or wallow in guilt if you recognize some of your own behaviors in the signs of codependency. Be kind to you and know that you have the power to make a change.

So let’s move into some of the telltale signs of a codependent parent/child dynamic:

Codependent parents can be super controlling or have very rigid boundaries. 

This looks like not giving your child any age-appropriate choices. When we control every aspect of our child’s lives and make all the decisions for them, we send a very clear message that they are not responsible for their own choices or decisions because someone else always has the power. In this way, being overly controlling can set a child up for a limited life experience.

Take a step back and think through where you might be able to give your child some breathing room to make choices. From what extracurricular activities they participate in, to who they play with, to what they’re eating, to what they’re doing when there are so many opportunities to give your child some age-appropriate agency within their own life.

Living vicariously through your child can be a red flag.

Did you have hopes or dreams growing up that you never got to fulfill? Do you look to your child to fulfill those dreams now? Listen, if you really wanted to be a ballerina and your kid loves to dance, that’s beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The thing to be aware of is where you might be pushing your child to do things that YOU wanted to do, but that they don’t. If there is a part of you that uses any kind of guilt or manipulation to get your child to fulfill your dream…take note.

Taking on your child’s problems as your own and unhealthy helping.

There has to come a time when a child learns how to fight their own battles. If at every turn you’re calling the school, another parent, or staying up until midnight with the glue gun to finish their science project that’s due tomorrow…take a closer look. When you continually bail your kid out of hot water or fight their fights for them, you are covertly sending them a message that they are incapable.

Where can you give your child some more space to figure it out themselves (again, in an age-appropriate way)? Instead of jumping in with advice when they come to you with a problem, can you listen actively and then ask them what they think they should or could do?

Bottom line: whether you’re in the terrible twos or the terrifying teens, kids are learning from the behavior you are modeling. Human beings don’t necessarily learn from what they are told. We learn from what we see and from what we experience. While of course, as parents, it’s our instinct to want to protect our children from every possible painful experience, the reality is, they learn from failure, from making mistakes and from, yes, sometimes feeling the pain of a wrong decision.

Our role as parents is to give our children as much space and autonomy in each stage of development so that they can build the healthy life skills they need to be the most fully expressed versions of themselves out in the world. 

If you did identify with any of the codependent behaviors, the good news is it is never too late to make a shift.

Having a better understanding of your own background has everything to do with your ability to stop the cycle of codependency for you, for your children and for generations to come.

In this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you a Codependency Inventory that will really help you get more clarity around your childhood experiences and how they might be still affecting your behavior in the present. I’m also sharing some steps you can take to begin to lovingly set up healthier boundaries for you and your child, as well as things you can do to begin to heal from codependent behaviors.

Make sure to download that right here!

The most powerful thing you can do to not raise a codependent child is to recognize, understand, and start on the road to recovery from your own codependency.

I co-created a course with Mark Groves (@createthelove) to help you do just that. If you want to learn more about this 5-week virtual experience and hop on the waitlist for the next time we open enrollment, click right here.

I hope this added value to your life today. If there’s someone you know who is struggling with this and you think that this would help them, please share it on your social media platforms.

I’m sending you all the good vibes and as always take care of you.


“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek no to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
He also loves the bow that is stable.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.