What does asking for help mean about you? Well…
It means you need help.
And, if you’re a parent, it means you probably need more help than you’re actually asking for. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it until something changes:
Parents are under-supported.
This is a problem. And yet, somehow, parents are expected to solve this problem. On their own. While under-supported. And this support deficit is not just a “parent problem.” It’s an EVERYONE problem.
If lack of parental support was the elephant in America’s living room before the pandemic, it has become the ravenous and overly caffeinated T-rex in America’s (now trashed) living room. That doubles as an office.
The sooner we start getting others—society, political servants, CEOs, and distinguished Members of The Board—enrolled in supporting parents, the happier we all will be. Which is why our most passionate purpose at LUMO is this:
Heal parents, heal the world.
But sometimes the thing keeping parents from getting the help they need is their own lack of willingness to ask for it. We see this with our parent clients, and it often stems from a fear of what asking for help might mean about them.
Are they doing enough?
If they ask for help, are they still a “good” parent/employee/human?
Will people judge them?
See them as lazy or incompetent?
As coaches, we see that our high-achieving parent clients have tremendous capacity for productivity and aim to use every ounce of it (with a dash of EXTRA) to get the job done. Which leaves them burned out and exhausted.
Here’s a mantra we use at LUMO:
“Just because I am good at something, doesn’t mean I have to do it.”
There are a few exceptions, of course. Ones that spring from legal responsibilities or basic rules of civility, and ones that are involuntary. Like breathing. But we’re talking about the things we sign up for, say “yes” to (especially when we don’t want or have to), and the things we believe we “should” do; often rooted in other people’s expectations.
An important thing to note? The things we love doing empower and energize us. They give our brain a nice dopamine wash. They add fuel to our tank.
Things we’re not excited about are draining. Time drags, focus wanes, and when we finish we’re physically exhausted (and not a little resentful).
The good news is that the things that drain you likely inspire someone else. Like the people who love filling out paperwork. We have a client whose husband is a whiz at paperwork, deciphering manuals, and building LEGO, but customer service conversations and project planning make him flop sweat. Luckily, our client loves communicating with humans and slaying projects. Win-win.
Another client has partnered with a co-worker on research and development. He loves collecting and organizing research, and his coworker loves presenting it.
Something we can learn from these dynamic duos is that by asking someone for help with something they enjoy allows them to shine their light. And then you will have more time to shine yours elsewhere.
What’s the worst that could happen? They say “no.”
What’s THE BEST that could happen? Your request for support starts a sensation! You inspire others and people everywhere begin to follow suit. As far as the eye can see, people are getting and giving help. On the edges of “Help Fest ‘22”, on-lookers gather and witness the glory. They call out: “We too would like a heaping helping of that rad help action!” And there is balance in the Universe. You are a HERO.
Bonus: Strong support structures add joy, ease, and satisfaction to your life, and create space for you to spend more time doing the things you love with those you love.
Double bonus: It will help wean you off the urge to “do it all.”
We recognize that asking for help is different for each of us. For some, asking for support is as natural as breathing , while for others it may feel like holding your breath and suffocating.
Where are you on the “I do it my-SELF!” spectrum?
Are you a petulant toddler climbing a teetering ladder to reach a boiling pot of water while holding a knife in each hand, confident that everything’s under control and offended at the suggestion you’re unsafe?
Or are you more of a, “Let’s gather all the ingredients and we can prepare dinner together. See if your sister will set the table.” kindly grandfather type?
Somewhere in between? Take a moment to get curious and ask yourself a few questions about getting (or resisting) support:
Fill in the blank: People who ask for help are ________.
How often do you ask for help?
What is the experience of asking for help like for you? How does it feel?
Is there an area of your life where asking for help is easy?
Is there an area of your life where asking for help is not even an option?
Where are you most supported in your life?
Where do you have a support deficit?
How does it feel when you help others?
Do you prefer to be the “helped” person or the “helper?”
Grab a pen and paper or open a note on your phone and jot down your thoughts. Explore the state of your existing support structures, your unmet needs, and your judgements about getting help.
Our request of you, parents, is this: Think locally while we act globally. Take care of yourselves, and collaborate with each other. Ask for and accept assistance; from your partner, friends, family, and co-workers. Give up judgment, envy, the erosive comparative BS our society spoon feeds us, and end (please for the love of all that is holy) the “I don’t need help” staring contest we’ve all unconsciously signed up for when we became parents.
Remember, as an expecting parent, you deserve MORE support, not less.
To learn more, visit www.lumoleadership.com or follow @lumoleadership on Instagram.