Healthy Helping Versus Enabling

Spotted on my Saturday walk.

Spotted on my Saturday walk.

Do you love to help others? Good.

Do you sometimes help others in a way that is hurtful to you or them? Not so good.

What is enabling?

Enabling is when your help for someone results in their not feeling the consequences of their decision making. You rescue them from feeling stuck, getting in trouble or even from them not knowing what to do.

There are extreme examples of enabling/rescuing like:

  • Bankrolling your 27 year old adult unemployed child who smokes pot 8 hours a day and lives in your basement.
  • Calling in sick for an alcoholic boyfriend who has passed out (again).
  • “Helping” your boyfriend buy a new Camaro when he can’t keep a job.

And not so extreme

  • Covering for a “friend” at work who messed up and forgot to finish their work project (for the 100th time!).
  • “Helping” your son with his homework by, kinda’ doing it yourself.
  • “Helping” your spouse clean the kitchen because it is quicker if you just do it, even though he has agreed to start sharing housework.
  • Looking the other way when an employee you like, or a babysitter, is lame in the job performance area (“She has so much going on, poor thing…”)

Give Away Girls  BEWARE:

There is no need to go all ball busting on people to get them to shape up or ship out.  I mean, it is still okay to help grandma with her groceries when she is crossing the street.  GAG girls LOVE to be helpful. (We need that in our world.)

However, alot of times they end up doing more than their share, sacrifice too much for others, and end up resenting themselves into a tiny, angry corner. Or worse, they relish the sacrifice and martyrdom secretly for some self-esteem fulfillment. (DANGER!) That doesn’t help them or the people that should be doing the stuff they are supposed to do anyway. How are they going to learn?

Make your best decisions now in your relationships. It will do yourself good as well as benefit those you love and care about.

Can Women Have It All?

Anne-Marie Slaughter on NPR

My girlfriend Tanya had a job at a law firm making a great living. However, they expected her to work more than 60 hours a week. When she slowed down, to give birth, they docked her bonus. It has been hard for her to stay excited and motivated in her career, with these challenges every day.

Interestingly, Anne-Marie Slaughter did an interview today about an article she wrote addressing this issue. Here’s a great podcast of an interview with Ann-Marie on NPR today. Why Women Still Can’t Have It All . (Picture taken from NPR link).

The difference between Ann-Marie and her husband
I loved how she mentioned that when a mother drops her kid at daycare, she feels guilty; when a dad drops him off, he feels proud of his involvement as a parent.

Some women don’t engage in any of the professional strategizing and sacrificing that comes with being a working mother. Some women are able and are comfortable staying home full-time. However, I know from the tons of women I have worked with over the years, that this has its disadvantages too.

When women decide to reemerge into the workplace, they will be behind financially and career wise. Additionally, there is that requisite, “How do I adjust?” And, “Why do I feel so devalued in society when a part of me knows that staying at home was so valuable?”

There’s no easy road and the grass often looks greener on the other side. (Forgive my overused idioms, but you know what I mean). No sweeping solutions are available yet. Please listen to the story.

Notes From Couple’s Therapy: No Such Thing as Mind Reading

People who excessively caretake others rarely ask for what they need. They are typically overly responsible, hard-working and loving. Once in a while, they manage to squeeze in tending to their own needs after everyone else’s needs are met — rare but sorely needed.

Trouble in the making
When detrimental caretakers (Give Away Girls) put their needs away, it’s natural for them to feel a loss.  Their needs don’t just go away though. They’re temporarily stuffed into a chest of drawers that begins to overfill. Eventually, somebody has to give the overstuffed drawers some attention. When a detrimental caretaker finally is ready for someone else to “help,” she longs for her loved one to take charge and take care.

Meet Give Away Girl Samantha
Samantha works all day, comes home and gets the house picked up, helps kids with homework, and makes dinner. She does it all. When her husband gets home, he might help with the dishes but then picks up a newspaper, kicks his feet up in the recliner and takes a break. Remember, Samantha is exhausted. She secretly expects her husband to notice her need and when he doesn’t, she makes up a story in her head that he just doesn’t care.

Samantha feels angry. She soothes her kindling emotions by drinking a glass of wine and detaches from her husband … doesn’t look at him, gives the evil eye, doesn’t ask him about his day and wonders if she ever really knew him at all. After a few more glasses of wine, she lets it all hang out. The fight is a big one, and it all starts over again a couple days later.

Your needs: the importance of being clear and direct
One of the biggest problems here is that Samantha doesn’t ask for what she needs. She is neither clear nor direct with her husband (until she’s just pissed and ready to unload her anguish on him).

Give Away Girls sacrifice themselves daily. They don’t know they’re doing it. Interestingly, they really want and need their partner to know what they need, how they need it and when they need it. Usually, in couples therapy, we discover that these tendencies have more to do with what they didn’t get as children than anything else. Nonetheless, this wanting, expecting or hoping your partner will “just know” happens a lot in intimate relationships, and it can be very destructive.

The takeaway: As hard as it may be, speak up. When you are specific about what you need, a good man will respond. He’ll be there. He’ll help. You just have to let him know what, how and when. There’s no such thing as mind reading.