I had to ask for help the other day and it was a real struggle for me, so I started thinking about the challenge of asking for help.
My situation was that we had snow. We had snow, we had ice. And my husband was working. I had to take care of the shoveling by myself in the morning. On top of that, I had to get my kids ready for school—make breakfast, make lunch. I thought, I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.
My neighbors and I share a driveway. And I heard my neighbor out there with his three kids, shoveling. I thought, Oh, gosh, how embarrassing is this—he has his kids out there shoveling, and I can’t get myself together to get out there and help shovel.
I didn’t want to have to ask for help. This was really upsetting to me: that other people had to come to my rescue and help me.
Why Didn’t I Want to Ask for Help?
All these things were flooding my mind. I felt, definitely, a lot of blame. I was basically like, Why is my husband not here, why is he never here when it snows, why am I always stuck shoveling? I mean, he has a job, he has to do what he has to do. But in that moment, that’s what I was feeling.
And there was a lot of shame. I felt embarrassed. I didn’t feel like I was able to take care of my own home, and that was really upsetting to me. I had a fear, also, of being judged.
Even though my neighbors are great people—we love each other—I did feel some judgement, like Ugh, we always have to help Maria. We always have to shovel for her. We always have to help her lift big packages. Recently, I was putting the minivan in the garage, just as the trunk was opening and it got stuck. Of course, my neighbor comes to my rescue, helps me lower the gate of the car, and it all just was so frustrating to me that I couldn’t just do it myself.
So I’m thinking, My clients have to do the same thing, right? We’re parents—why do I have to ask someone for help? People feel vulnerable when they’re calling me, to say, “I need help.”
The Blame Game
I know, a lot of people resort to blame.
“Well if it wasn’t for my kid…
If they weren’t such a jerk…
If they weren’t such a drama queen…
If they could just get their life together…
If they just didn’t have anxiety…
If they just didn’t have ADHD…
I wouldn’t need to be calling you. It’s because of them that I need to call you.”
The Shame Game
Shame. It’s embarrassing, sometimes, for some parents to say, you know what? I’m having a tough time, and I’m embarrassed to say that and I’m embarrassed to be honest about that. That is a tough thing. We think we should be able to parent with ease. We have all these preconceived ideas about what parenting will be like. And then we have kids and things change, specifically our expectation versus reality.
Also, judgement. We’re fearful—we’re fearful of other people judging us. It doesn’t feel good. It’s really hurtful to think that other people could be judging us. And with the parent coaching, this is a judgement-free zone, so that is not what I do. But a lot of clients, when they’re calling me, do feel like they’re going to be judged. It does take some time for some clients to say, OK, this is a safe place. I do feel like I can do this.
So I’m seeing a lot of parallel between my asking for help or needing the help to get my driveway cleared and parents calling me and needing help and support with their parenting.
On the flip side, the awesome thing is that once you’re able to ask for help, you can delegate. You can say, OK, my husband’s not here, so my neighbors are going to help with the driveway, I’m going to take care of the kids. I’m going to make sure they get fed, I’m going to make sure they have lunch, I’m going to do whatever else I need to do. I know my neighbors are helping and are willing to help.
It’s about recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, which is really awesome. When it comes to parenting that’s a big part of what we talk about.
The Value of Delegation
Who else, who can you delegate these things to? Who can you tap into and say, You know what, my husband and I need a night out. Or, my kids are driving me crazy and I don’t know what to do. Who are my resources? What can I tap into? Can I call my neighbor and ask them to quickly watch my kids for 10 minutes while I take a walk around the block?
Delegating and knowing what your resources are is really important. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. That’s such a gift: to know what you can handle and what you might need support with. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s a great strength!
It’s better to ask for the help and to realize where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are, so you can get help in the areas that are your weaknesses, and you don’t try to do something that you’re not ready or able to do.
Finding the Help You Need
Overall, that was a very challenging morning for me, to have to accept the help from my neighbor. But in that processing of hearing my neighbors outside, helping me with the driveway and all, I thought about my clients, and the challenge they may face when reaching out to me.
With that in mind, I do want to say thank you to those of you who have reached out to me. I know it’s not always easy, and I also want to say, to those who haven’t yet reached out to me, who are maybe afraid to take that step, and say, you know what, I need an extra helping hand, please do it. Please do it for you, for your kids. It’s totally OK, and I’ve got your back. So let me take you by the mind and we’ll walk the walk together.