Help Me… The Easy Question That We Make Difficult
I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard that question from my little ones. I have tied shoes, built with Lego bricks, and helped with household chores all because my kids have done nothing more than ask me for help. Kids seem hardwired to ask for help both to do things that are hard and to understand things that they do not. Unfortunately somewhere along the road to adulthood we lose some of that. I have no data to back up this next claim, outside of general observations, but it seems men are particularly more likely to stop asking for help as we become adults. I think back to times in my adolescent years when I would hear things like “be a man”, or “tough it out”, or even “grow up” and I see that those were times that perhaps I took those statements to mean I need to be more independent or that asking for help was a sign of weakness in me.
I recently spent almost a year unemployed and the ramifications of the to aversion to asking for help became painfully aware to me. Even being aware of my need to ask for help it was still hard for me to do. It was hard to get on the state health insurance so that I could avoid high COBRA payments. It was hard to start the process to apply for unemployment benefits because it felt like I was not being a man, “toughing” it out, etc… It was hard to ask friends or family for help when I needed it. As I write these words now there is still part of me that bristles at the thought… Isn’t that sad.
I am fortunate to have a good spouse, and she knows how to make things clear to me in a way that others don’t. Whenever I struggled to ask for help she would eventually point out to me that it is important for me to struggle and ask for help so that my kids see me do it and learn that it is OK. Which of course it is… which of course I want them to… which of course means my aversion to asking for help is silly.
Over the past few years there has been a group of Dads in an online community that have been a great source of help to me, from ideas on how to be a father, how to handle tough parenting problems, or just to blow off steam. This was a group that I could go to for help, and frequently did/do. Last year was very difficult and the friends I made there were invaluable to me. Sadly the dad that started the group has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and that generally carries a life expectancy of 1 year. The group of dads that he founded asked me for help to share his story and encourage anyone who can to make a donation to his family to help them cover his care, put money aside for their kids, and perhaps let them make one or two more family memories together. If you can give a little it will be greatly appreciated.
Here is the link: