All parents and caregivers will need help at some point. Normalizing this is a huge step in supporting families in our community.
While well-meaning people are quick to say, “Let me know if you need anything,” when we see a family going through a tough situation, it’s rare that someone actually takes them up on the offer … because it’s vague and because asking for help is hard in a society that celebrates independence and grit.
So how do we offer help in a way that will empower people to accept it? And why is accepting help important?
When offering help, be specific. Say, “Can I drop off a pizza on Friday, so you don’t have to cook?” Or “Can I take the kids for a few hours this weekend, so you can do errands more quickly or spend some time alone?” This allows a parent or caregiver to give a quick “yes” or “no” rather than forcing them to define what they need and what they’re comfortable asking for and deciding whether it would be appropriate to ask for it.
It can also be helpful to define the boundaries of your support. For example, if you say, “Let me know if you need anything,” and they ask to borrow $10,000, things might get awkward. You could say something like, “I’d love to help you. I could bring you dinner one night or take the kids for a few hours one day or come over and do your laundry.”
When you offer specific help and define the boundaries, people are much more likely to accept, which gives you the opportunity to support them–and their children.
When it comes to receiving help, consider changing your mindset. Accepting help is a form of leadership: it’s willing to be vulnerable, which is courageous, and it provides an example to others that receiving support is important and normal. It’s a revolutionary act against isolated individualism.
When you accept help, you give the person helping you the gift of fulfillment; helping someone can be a powerful, meaningful experience.
Remember, too, that reciprocity is empowering. It’s easier to accept help if you can also offer to help.
Giving one another the opportunity to give back, by supporting each other, builds community resilience … and that is beneficial for everyone.
Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit www.pcaaz.org