Sometimes even people with the best of intentions end up causing harm to those they intend to help. Case in point is when the overly concerned parent who gives too many material things to children and ends up spoiling them rather than teaching valuable lessons about self-reliance and independence. What are some of the biggest mistakes we make when trying to make life easy for others? Here are four, along with a remedy for each situation.

Buying a Car as a Sixteenth Birthday Gift

It's a much-debated topic, but some parents feel the need to buy a car for kids who turn sixteen, rather than help them pay for the vehicle. Ask adults you know and find out what their opinion is on this hot topic. You might be surprised to discover that the vast majority of parents are against the idea, believing it fosters poor financial habit in the kids and doesn't teach them the value of a dollar. An alternative is to offer to pay half the cost for a used vehicle that you approve of and test drive before forking over the funds. Set a maximum amount on the donation.

Paying All College Costs for Your Son or Daughter

Some parents scramble to make sure that every penny of college is covered for their young adult children. This is usually not a smart way of going about the school funding process. Instead, consider acting as a co-signer on a private loan for your youngster. It's really the best of both world's because you aren't paying the bills, but they are. And even though your signature helps them get approved, they're the ones who will be making the payments. Another key advantage with private student loans that's often overlooked is your child will have access to market-competitive interest rates, reasonable terms, and the chance to borrow the entire amount needed to pay for tuition, room, board, books, and school fees.

Ignoring Drug and Alcohol Abuse

With friends, children, coworkers, and neighbors, ignoring obvious signs of their drug and alcohol problems is a recipe for disaster. If you know them well enough to have a frank conversation, point out what you've noticed and aim them in the direction of reliable help. Of course, there's a chance you'll temporarily lose a friend or alienate an adult child, but it's better to be honest and offer real help than turn a blind eye. Later, they'll thank you.

Being a Doormat Instead of a Friend

Agreeing with everything someone says is not the definition of friendship. It's not even close. Friends talk openly with each other, especially when they notice harmful behaviors in the other person. Instead of ignoring your friend's gambling, drug, mental illness, or other type of issue, tell them that you think they're on a dangerous road and offer to find help. Likewise, never be afraid to disagree with a friend's political views, opinions about casual things like films or foods, and ways of approaching a problem. Doormats are not friends, and friends are not doormats. So, speak up, have real conversations, and don't be afraid to agree to disagree about many things.