Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dads Don't Need Help, Right?

To my son Tommy,

I am a dad, which means I don't need help, right? I am supposed to be the protector and the provider and the ultimate problem solver. I will just throw on my adult superman underoos that I got for Father's Day (so I can match you) and figure it out. I am strong and all powerful and I got this, right?

That is the type of thinking that most dads have. We somehow think if we have to ask for help, we are weak or worse yet letting down our fathers before us because we never saw them ask for help. We don't want to disappoint the man who raised us and encouraged our independent problem solving. But, here are three disservices we are doing by not asking for help when we truly need it.

  • You are not giving your son a good example. By buying into this type of thinking, we perpetuate this stereotype. Teach your son it is okay to ask for help and show him how even you need help sometimes. Otherwise, when he grows up and is struggling with life, he too will say everything is fine when he is barely treading water.
  • You might go crazy. Stress is real. Life is real. Struggle is real. When you are shouldering it on your own, the burden begins to crack the foundation. It will take a toll on your body and mind and heart.
  • You are denying others the opportunity to show love. Most people will stand by and watch and not offer to help. They either won't know how to help or are too afraid of offending your pride by offering help or think someone else will do it. But when we ask for help, we give them the opportunity to give of themselves and thus show love.
I get it, it is tough to ask for help. Just being honest with yourself and admitting you need help is hard. Even letting people see you get down on your knees and ask the Big Man upstairs for help is difficult. 

And the expressions that accompany the task of asking for help don't help much either. Often, the phrase that precedes "and ask for help" is "swallow your pride". This conjures up an image of a boy having to gulp down this big nasty spoonful of medicine. We have all been there, and we know the medicine made us feel better, but it wasn't very pleasant.

That is why, on the flip side of the coin, when you see the opportunity to help others, you have to just help. Forgive someone the task of having to ask and damn the worry about offending their pride. Just start helping where you can. Get off the sidelines and into the game. There are so many in this world that need help, that deserve help, that are worth our love.

Recently, in the dad blogging community, I saw this initiative type helping. One of our own, Oren Miller at bloggerfather.com, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. With this burden on his shoulders, his only requests were for the happiness of his wife and kids. We, as an online community, felt helpless to help the man who brought us together and helped so many of us. Luckily we have people like Brent Almond of designerdaddy.com (among countless other great dads and all around good people) that refused to let us stand on the sideline. At least we could scrounge up a couple bucks and send Oren and his family on a vacation or something. So Brent started one of those GiveForward campaigns for Oren. By asking for him, he gave us the opportunity to give, to help, to show our love. In twelve short hours the initial goal was meant and it was decided to raise the bar. Heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

We can all help someone and we all could use some help ourselves. You would think the simple fact that we are all in the same boat, all afflicted with that same terminal condition called life, that it would be enough to make sure we all help each other every chance we got. Unfortunately, sometimes you still have to ask, and that is perfectly alright. But I hope you grow up to have friends who don't have to ask for help, because you beat them to the punch.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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