The Importance Of Being Open To Help (Or Earnest. Whichever.)

Asking For Help

There’s a reason it’s a cliché that men don’t ask for help.

Mostly because men would rather die (following a three-week session of torture and abuse that included listening to Enya and watching romantic comedies) than ask for directions or — really — any help at all.

It’s almost as if we seem to believe that, located somewhere on the Y chromosome, is located every single user’s manual, map, set of instructions, how-to book and blueprint that has ever or will ever exist. And that includes on other planets as well. And, no, I have no idea why this is. But it is.

I’ll be honest. Although I have managed to teach myself that asking for directions if I’m lost won’t cause me to spontaneously combust, I’m still terrible with the idea of asking for help.

As far as I was concerned, anything could be done. And if it could be done, then I would do it.

I went through a lot of emergency-room visits and replacement DIY home projects, I’ll tell you.

Still, that all went out with the latest appliance that looked easy to install, but wasn’t, as soon as we brought home Sarcasmo, our oldest son. He was the first of three spawn from my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be The Mother To My Children (As Far As We Know), and we knew it all. We were ready.

Right up until we closed the front door on our apartment in Gainesville, FL, and were left alone with a crying baby who wasn’t interested in the full-sized football I’d already purchased to play with him.

We read books, but still were frustrated. This was before the internet, so we couldn’t look at YouTube videos. Eventually, there was no choice. We had to do the one thing I had vowed never to ever even contemplate.

I called my mom.

Now, normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But this call. . . Well, that was tantamount to me renting a sky-writing plane, learning to fly, buying the smoke for the plane’s rear end and then headed cloud-side and writing “SURRENDER DORO–” sorry. Wrong phrase. . . . and writing, “I WAS WRONG YOU WERE RIGHT.” It was almost as if my teenage self really hadn’t known everything.

She had the good grace not to laugh. At least not out loud or over the phone until she hung up with me.

The thing of it is, she’d raised two kids and done a pretty good job (on the oldest one, at least) so she knew about what she talked. I, on the other hand, could recite the seven hammer wielders other than Thor, as well as the two other people who have slung Cap’s shield.

Asking for help. . . Well, it didn’t kill me. Not sure if it made me stronger, but I do know a few days later, Mom said she was proud of me for asking for help. It wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign that I was strong enough to admit when I didn’t know what I needed to know.asking-for-help-is-a-sign-of-strength2.jpg

As it turns out, Mom wasn’t alone. Recent research shows that people who ask for help are seen as more competent and more assured than those who attempt to struggle on their own.

I realize that having heard you won’t look weak if you ask for help won’t magically erase our genetic predisposition toward individuality-or-else, but it’s something you should consider. You’ve got a brand-new life in your hands. It’s not the same as a brand-new ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be replaced. Kids can’t.

If you don’t know, ask. If you’re not sure, ask.

Once you’ve got the experience you need, then you’ll be ready to help the next stay-at-home dude who comes along looking lost.