One of the lessons I am trying to impart to my young son is that it’s okay to ask for help.
It might seem obvious, but there’s a long-standing perception within some corners of male culture that asking for help betrays weakness. Why do you think we never ask for directions?
I’ve personally never been one for being macho. The concept is outdated, and even the word is silly. I’m teaching my son that there’s no shame in knowing your limitations and asking for help. Especially when you really need it.
Someone who really needs it right now is the founder of the Dad Bloggers group I’m a part of on Facebook, Oren Miller. If you haven’t heard his heartbreaking story, get your tissues ready. And then open your wallets. Because his family is in for a tough road, and is friends and fellow Dad Bloggers – a great, diverse, generous group I’m proud to be a part of – are not going to bother waiting for them to ask for help.
We’re going ahead and doing it anyway. I hope you will too.
Studies show that the two primary obstacles that need to be overcome when someone is in need of assistance is the fear of asking for help and the “bystander effect,” which shames humanity by highlighting some of our sorriest instincts, one of which is that “the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.”
It seems that the bigger the crowd, the more likely we are to shift responsibility to someone else in it, to assume that someone else will handle it, and then, subsequently, to rationalize that our burden is lifted once everyone else has already hopped on board. This is almost as gross as needing to yell “fire” instead of “help” in order to get someone to pitch in.
So no, I’m not going to let my son grow up thinking it’s okay to hang back just because he’s part of a crowd, whether he’s hesitant to assert his own individuality or to step forward to help a person in need. There’s nothing wrong with sticking out, especially when that means sticking out your hand.
And I’m certainly not going to raise him to be ashamed of needing help. Everybody needs a hand sometimes, there’s no shame in that. The shame is in refusing to lend one.
Today, I’m lending one to my friend and his family, and I hope you’ll do the same.