When Not Helping Helps

Posted Wednesday, March 06, 2013


She loves to drive. Drive with her loved ones.

Long talks. Long untold confessions. Dealing with the stuff that can't be ignored as you sit next to each other for hours on end.

Road trip relationship therapy. For Jodi it has worked for over 30 years with her family.

This week included one of those beautiful trips with her college-aged son.

Jodi  had some captive time this week. He's such a man. Billy went away to college on the other side of the country in the middle of nowhere and he figured out how to live on his own. You see, a few years ago when her son was preparing to go off to school, Jodi lost her job—dad's job wasn't as secure. They wanted to help in the same way that they had helped his older siblings but it just wasn't possible. They didn't have the money to pay his way, to get him a car, and to make sure he was going to be OK. He could go and do whatever he wanted—but the best they could do was $100 month.

She was worried, how would he survive?


In the quite darkness of that early morning ride—Billy shone. He told his mom how he figured that he could spend $2 on every meal that first year. He got his own apartment. Built relationships. He's not just surviving—he's thriving. He had done it on his own—become his own man.

Truth is, he's the most equipped of the three—and he's the youngest. Truth is, he's 21 and he might as well be 30. He's living his life.

As Jodi left that conversation she experienced a mixture of tears of joy and tears of sadness.

Joy for Billy and his independence
Sadness that she didn't give his siblings so much space
Joy that she is able to notice herself
Sadness that it took so long
Joy in knowing she can grow
Sadness for those who choose not to
Joy for the life out in front of her
Ready and excited to embrace

As parents, as employers, as friends, as colleagues—we often think that we must help those around us in need. We especially must help those we are "responsible" for. Truth is that we are often better off to see our kids, employees, friends, and colleagues as completely capable of finding an answer on their own—without our help. You'll be surprised at the creative ways that people find to demonstrate that they are capable on their own.


Check out our last 6 eNewsletters:

November 4, 2016--Crossing the Continental Divide (Both Literally and Metaphorically)


May 13, 2016-Are You Embracing Your Goo?

April 6, 2016--Micromanagement is Good Management


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