Let’s start by taking the Codependency Checklist test first, then we will take it again after we have educated ourselves on the Characteristics of Codependency.
Can children be conditioned to be codependent?
In the Bible, Rebekah shows a blatant bias toward her second-born son, Jacob, because he stays close to hearth and home.
Meanwhile, Isaac favors his firstborn son, Esau, because he has prowess in hunting.
Since no two children have identical skills, all children should be recognized for their differences and respected for their distinctiveness.
Oh, but Rebekah does not love in this way!
She becomes obsessed.
Thus, the conniving begins.
Rebekah wants Jacob to receive “the birthright of the firstborn” (which unquestionably belongs to Esau).
She becomes determined to deceive her husband so that he will give it to Jacob.
Because of the enmeshed relationship between Rebekah and Jacob, she finds it easy to persuade her son to defraud his father.
She plots.… She schemes.… She secretly plans.
Rebekah coaches Jacob to cover his hands with the skin of a young goat so that they will feel like the hands of his brother.
She even dresses Jacob in Esau’s clothes.
Because of old age and weak eyes, father Isaac is fooled.
Although the scheme is a success, Jacob is found out and flees for his life.
But alas, he does not escape his passive dependency.
All too soon, he again becomes manipulated by others.
His father-in-law and his own two wives are crafty and cunning. Meanwhile, he feels conned and controlled.
Such is the misery in adulthood when one is enmeshed in childhood. (See Genesis chapters 27–30.)
Codependent people may appear capable and self-sufficient, yet in reality they are insecure, self-doubting, and in need of approval.
This need for approval results in an excessive sense of responsibility and a dependence on people-pleasing performance.
However, the Bible says our primary focus should not be on pleasing people, but rather on pleasing God.
The classic codependent relationship is typically characterized by an emotionally weak person who feels the need to be connected to an emotionally strong person.
The so-called strong one is actually weak because of the need to be needed.
Both are insecure and become entangled in a web of emotional bondage.
The two combine to produce a destructive cycle of manipulation and control, draining joy and happiness out of life.
Because this destructive dynamic is often subconscious, both parties can feel innocent of any wrongdoing.
Yet, God knows that their self-absorbed motives are consumed with trying to fill an empty emotional bucket that has no bottom.
Answer: No, if the friendship is interdependent (reciprocal with balanced sharing), then it is healthy. If the friendship is codependent (out of balance), then it is unhealthy.
» One friend is weak and troubled; the other friend is strong and competent. (There is an imbalance of power and of give-and-take.)
» One friend desires freedom to enjoy other significant relationships but is fearful of doing so. The other friend desires exclusivity and becomes easily jealous or threatened.
» Both may put the other friend in the place of Christ, and neither is bettered by the friendship.
» Both come together as equals with a balance of power and of give-and-take.
» Both pursue and enjoy other significant relationships and avoid exclusivity.
» Both friends are better because of each other. Each strengthens the other spiritually.
Answer: Don’t be afraid to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.
Answer: Don’t try to be your employer’s “all-in-all”—the one who will always do everything.
Answer: Don’t be controlled by manipulation and fear.
Answer: Don’t let staying late be a detriment to your God-given, personal priorities. If the work load is too great to accomplish what you have been hired to do in the time allowed, you could express an accurate picture to your employer in this way: “Mr. (employer’s name), thank you for the opportunity to work on this assignment. We seem to have run into a problem. You have employed me to be here 40 hours a week; however, there is at least 100 hours of work to be done. How do you want me to prioritize my tasks and utilize my 40 hours this week?”
Answer: Don’t be afraid to say no when it’s appropriate to say no.
Answer: You can be a knight in shining armor and rescue a damsel in distress. But once you have rescued her and she goes on with her life, she will not value you as a person—only as a rescuer. You want to be wanted because you are loved, not because of emotional unhealthiness.
— Someone who is emotionally healthy can love you out of strength and will be able to accept you unconditionally and offer you security in a relationship.
— Someone who is emotionally needy is typically self-focused and limited in ability to be sensitive to the needs of others. Emotionally needy people are more often “takers” than “givers” in relationships and “use people up” emotionally.
Seek someone with emotional maturity and spiritual wisdom, someone who can help you to grow more and more in your relationship with the Lord.
When we find ourselves in unhealthy patterns of relating, we need to change our focus, change our goals, and change what is hindering us from running the race God has planned for us. Our primary focus should be not on a person but on Jesus.
Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship (pp. 7–11). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.