When to help and when not to?

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
When to help and when not to?
5
Sun, 02-06-2011 - 5:19pm

One of our sons had a problem.

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Wed, 02-09-2011 - 7:14am

Hi Shirley, this is a difficult decision - deciding when to assist and when to let them fall on their own even when they are 27. Helping move a sofa doesn't seem like a big thing but I'm assuming that this is only an example of when he turns to others to fix his problems? Does he always expect others to jump in to get him out of his fixes? Does he offer to help you & DH or his siblings with things? Why doesn't he have his license? My BIL is almost 60 & never had his license. He lives in downtown Toronto & takes transit or walks everywhere. The family gets frustrated when he needs to go outside of the city or move anything as we are asked for help. But he won't use a car enough to be a skilled driver even if he had his license.

Ian & I had no support from either of our parents. Ian was the independent, middle child with 4 needy siblings. My Mom doesn't have a maternal bone in her body & helps everyone (great friend) but never helped me as I was supposed to be mature enough to handle everything. So as a result, I'm big on being there to help my kids and will give up my own plans to assist with theirs. But then we are a family that helps each other. DD just painted my bathroom last week as I was too busy at work to get to it. DS A shoveled the driveway after that big storm because we were up north & he cuts our grass in the summer so his Dad only has the lawn up north to handle. His fiancee has even been known to empty the dishwasher if she finds it needs to be done. DS J is in BC but he provides emotional support & coaching (his words) to all of us back home. He just re-wrote Ian's resume. So there is a lot of give and take.

However, we did learn that we were doing too much for DD & her fiance & had to stop. When DD went back to work after DGS was born, Ian took over the full time babysitting and I handled the evenings. DD & DGS would move in with us as they lived an hr away & DD worked close to our home. We had DGS 6/7 days a week while DD worked shifts and her fiance

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 02-09-2011 - 10:26am

I spoke with DS last night and he said that he had found a friend to help rent the truck and drive it with the sofa set to his home.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 02-09-2011 - 12:53pm

Shirley, I do know what you are talking about. We suffer from the same problem of feeling guilty when we say no but sometimes feeling put upon if we say yes. It used to happen a lot when my dd lived nearby. There was a period when she seemed to need rides a lot, it wasn't such a big thing for me to help her out but at the same time I was thinking that she really needed to get her situation together. How do you find the line that divides helping, and enabling someone to not have to move to that next level of personal responsibility? Sometimes I just had to say NO so that I didn't feel too imposed upon or maybe prevent her from becoming too dependent on my help. I would feel bad but at the same time realize that it was probably healthier all the way around. Now she is 3000 miles away so too far away to ask for our help in most situations. She still vents to us about some issues, and occasionally we have helped financially (ie. the cat got sick so I gave her $ for a vet visit) but mostly we are able to keep more of a distance from her problems these days.

The situation with ds is different. He wants to "borrow" things a lot! I don't mind at all to loan him a pitcher or a folding chair or something that he clearly needs for just one day. But for a while it seemed like the only times we saw him was when he needed something from us. And some of the things are items that are not really returnable like bandaids or gift wrap, or something that he ought to just own like a screw driver. I don't know why he didn't just buy his own! (there wasn't an economic reason) I feel petty saying no to something like that but on the other hand there is a principle here that adults take care of these things for themselves. Typically we will allow it, but sometimes refuse and tell him that he needs to get his own. Lately he seems to be better about this, I don't know if he had a leap in maturity or personal responsibility or if they instead borrow more from the gf's family now!

I have found that practice makes perfect, meaning that it gets easier to say no the more I do it. And as my kids get older I get less guilty when refusing because I do feel that they should be taking more and more responsibility for ordering their lives independently. And it does seem to be working out that way.

In regards to the drivers license issue, would you be willing to let him practice in your car? Otherwise I don't know how he could become proficient...I think it must be easier to learn as a teenager when one not only has access to a family car for practice but also is less fearful and less considerate about bugging the parents to let them drive LOL. As an independent adult a non-driver often doesn't have access to a car which makes the process much more complicated. I think that there also has to be a shift in mindset about paying for transportation or moving help. Since my dd became a New Yorker she has made that shift, mostly out of necessity because so few friends have cars never mind trucks; but also its just the "normal" there. Paying for delivery or hiring a car just becomes part of the price of something, a budget item (not that she has a budget LOL). Its kind of like your other son said, that maybe he shouldn't be buying furniture if he can't (afford to) move it.

I don't know if any of this helps, except to know that you definitely are not the only parent who wrestles with this issue!

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Wed, 02-09-2011 - 8:10pm
Shirley, I understand the driving issue. I was 36 when I finally got my license. I don't know why but I felt that I wasn't going to pass my written test which never made any sense since I was capable of graduating from university. I was driving a tractor at 10 and getting my parents car out of the garage in the morning from the time I was 13 but I froze when I turned 16 & it took 20 years to deal with this. Now almost 20 yrs later, I drive everywhere. Once I passed the written test, then everything else was a simple. It was a mental block.

I get the same guilty feelings when I say no. I have to work at it as I don't even need to say no to feel guilty. It starts for me when one of the kids need something & my 1st reaction is to say let me do this, get this, drive there, etc.. I still want to help them & make things better for them like I did when they were 3. lol

Ian is really good at the no. It's the word that comes out of his mouth immediately when anyone but DGS asks him to do or for something. No idea why, but he has always been like this. So the kids come to me for everything & then I have to ask Ian. Then work it through cause he really doesn't mean no. His bark is worse than his bite as I tell him. He is a big pussycat behind his no & gives in more than I will but if he doesn't then he doesn't feel guilty.

The parenting never stops until they become our parents when we aren't capable of making our own decisions, Dee

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 02-09-2011 - 11:18pm

Elspeth, practically speaking, one isn't allowed to learn to drive here until they get a "Learner's Permit" and for that one needs to take a written test to even get that!