My parents are both great at this: I do something stupid and they can make me realize whatever follows is simply a consequence of my own stupidity. Their approach made me take responsibility for the consequences of my own actions, while at the same time still somehow helping me deal with the situation, which always made me feel better about the situation almost immediately. Their approach has always been twofold:
- Explain that these are consequences. As a little kid, these were simple things, like 'if you don't study, you fail your test'. As I've matured, things became more serious, like 'if your budgeting or administration is a mess, don't come asking us to pay when you forgot/didn't have the money to pay a bill on time'.
- Offer help to prevent similar situations, like helping me with studying for the retake of the test or suggesting better ways of keeping track of my administration/budgeting. If it's something they don't know much about either, they've always done their best to suggest people or places that can help. What they didn't do though was enabling by paying bills for me or pressuring the teacher to change my grades/give me an extra retake.
Recently I've been feeling like I'm treated as an enabler and that I'm being used by certain people to shield them from the consequences of their own actions. So, I'm trying to change that and apply the approach my parents always took, as it always seemed to work so well to me. It seems to be backfiring though.
So, I'm wondering if there are other ways to have people face consequences, that have the same outcome as the approach my parents always used: have the person take responsibility for creating the situation, avoid a negative reaction like an increase of resentment/anger over time for not having an enabler, and still making the other person feel like they're being helped?
What follows is just one example of such a situation, which is meant to illustrate what I have done and the results of those actions. There have been other situations with other people too, but for the sake of keeping an already long question as brief as possible, here's just one example:
My younger (20 year old) brother decided to start privately leasing a car so he could have a brand new status symbol. It's a fine car, but the contract limits the number of kilometres he can drive during the duration of the lease (if he goes over he has to pay fees). That limit doesn't even cover him commuting to and from work. As such, he's been asking to borrow my car. I've lent it to him as I'm not currently using it, which made me an enabler, allowing him to avoid the consequences of his bad choice. I gave him a few simple conditions though: keep the car clean, replace used fuel and no drunk driving.
He has violated these conditions, received warnings, and then violated the rules again. I told him he hasn't been living up to his part of the deal and took my key back. He immediately began saying that this wasn't fair because now he couldn't get to work, at which point I did what my parents always did: Remind him that he still had his own car and could get to work, and then offered him any help needed. I even made some suggestions like using public transport, researching if he could change his lease or help him with his budgeting to save up for the fees he'd need to pay at the end of the lease.
Only... it doesn't seem to work at all. He's becoming angrier and angrier at me the longer I refuse to give in and hand him my car keys back. While my parents do support my decision, they are also saying that this is mostly something between us and that I'm dealing with the consequences of enforcing these rules with regards to my car. At the same time they've offered help in enforcing these rules by stopping my brother from taking the car sneakily (which he tried), and have talked to my brother to try the same thing I did: Make him realize he's facing consequences and helping him deal with the situation he created. Most of it to no avail though.