Monday, May 23, 2016

Help or Hurt

A serious blog.

I've had several conversations lately with people who are helping others family members and/or friends.

Helping others is something we need more of, but the conversations turned to a point where does helping hurt?

The problems discussed included alcohol, drugs, depression, money, divorce, lack of work, school grades.

I started to think of the times I had to be helped by others.

As an adult child, who was married, I often had to turn to my father for tuition money. My ex was so opposed to my studying that even the $400 semester cost was a challenge after I supplied my part of our couple income.

I no sooner paid it back and I needed it again. My dad was my first credit card. He loaned me money later so I could buy a car to get to work. By the time I needed another, I was able to finance my own.

My father and stepmom also offered to let me live with them when my husband left me and our infant daughter. I saw the relief in his eyes when I said no. My sister had just left home and they were ready to be child-free.

But I knew the backup was there which let me sleep worry-free even when I didn't use it.

My father never put strings on his loans. I didn't have to modify my behavior to qualify for his largess. At the same time, he approved of how I was handling the disarray my life had become as I was rebuilding it.

He figured if I followed his advice or conditions and it all went wrong, I would not accept responsibility for my own actions. In another way, he thought if he told me what to do, he was stealing my life.

Oh, he had his opinions often expressed as "Have you thought of...?"

I never had.

What he asked always happened. Finally, I learned to think of whatever it was he suggested. It saved me a lot of digging out.

I've tried to follow the same principles with my daughter, but it is easy because she either follows the right (my definition and fortunately hers arrived at by herself) course or has the ability to dig herself out of whatever...

But what if she didn't?

What if she were a drug addict would giving her money for drugs be the answer? Put her in rehab? How many times? What right do I have to determine if I am doing more damage by helping? Would I be helping her or would I be stealing her own life?

At what point should a helping line be cut?
  • Where support (not just financial) becomes a crutch that is stopping a person from walking on their own?
  • Where a crutch allows the person to walk to the next place in their life?
  • Where whatever is in the way of the person accomplishing what needs to be done is an outside force that s/he has no control over?
If you are waiting for a wise answer, I don't have one. I wish my dad were still alive and could say "Have you thought of . . .?" and his wisdom would provide the magic wand.

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