The message I recieved growing up was that, "If you love someone, you do whatever it takes to help them." Saying 'No' was equal to a slap in the face.
My parents were great!...very loving, generous and supportive...so there was no reason to think that this message was faulty in any way.
There is a lot of good in that philosophy, but finding the balance between helping, enabling, over-stepping and exhausting ourselves can be very challenging.
As parents, we naturally want to make life easier for our kids. We see our role as the providers of home, health and happiness...and to a certain extent, we are! But good intentions can often go too far and we unknowingly send a destructive message instead.
Here's an example---
I recently offered to take a trip across the state to stay with our oldest daughter and her two kids while her husband is away on a long hiking trip. My thought was that she would possibly be a little lonely and stressed trying to care for two very active little kids by herself in a community that is fairly new to them.
Although she appreciated the offer, she very astutely challenged my intentions by saying, "Mom, I would love for you to visit because you want to see us...but please don't come if you feel like you need to save us from the choices that we made."
I laid in bed a long time that night thinking about her challenge...what were my motivations?
When I was being completely honest with myself, I was 'saving' her from the decision they had made to send her husband off on a long trip and leave her alone in a somewhat strange town with no transportation while he is away. As a Mom, I could imagine all forms of disaster befalling them...but it was their choice and my 'concern' was suggesting that they needed me to rescue them.
My jumping in to 'save' them...although helpful...could potentially send the message that they were somehow incapable of making good choices, or even getting themselves out of a jam if necessary---not a message I would ever want to send and completely untrue!
Wouldn't it be better to say (in words AND actions)...
"I respect you and your ability to make sound decisions and have complete confidence that you can navigate life and its challenges!"
When we jump in with, "Here let me help you" and "I'll fix that for you" and "Let me show you how it's done"...maybe what our loved ones hear is, "You need my help because you CAN'T manage on your own"---
What messages are your actions sending- do they speak confidence??
Please share your thoughts in the comments...
All my love,