Asking for help

Infants are born knowing how to go about three things, one of which is ask for help. Every cry is a desperate plea for help. Change Me! Feed Me! Hold Me! As children learn to speak, we no longer honour the cries and children have to learn a new way to ask for what they want. They take what they already know (crying) and combine it with what they are trying to learn (talking) and they try to cry and talk at the same time and we all recognise this as “whining”.

The whining is annoying and we tell them to quit whining. Some parents take the time to teach their children to say things without whining and those children easily learn to ask for what they want. Even when parents do not take the time to do that, kids are pretty resourceful and figure out on their own somehow. That’s called asking for what you want.

We cannot give children everything they want, so we begin to tell our children “no” to some of their requests. Once again, kids are clever creatures and they learn how to ask for lots of stuff with the hope that they might get some of it, ask for one thing repeatedly with the hope that one of their requests will be granted, and ask more than one person for the same thing with the hope that one will say “yes.” We recognise these techniques as “asking for more than you want” and “persisting”.

All that asking gets to be obnoxious, so we begin to tell our kids things like, “stop being so greedy,” “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “if you ask me that one more time, you’re going to your room for the rest of the night!” This is where kids tend to run out of resources. They learn to ask for less, get less, and live with less.

With teenage years comes a whole bunch of new stuff that they want — clothes, jewellery, CDs, video games, a phone, a car, and own room and they start to ask for stuff more than ever. However, they’ve got no new techniques. They’ll try asking for more than what they want, they’ll try persistence, they’ll try asking Dad when Mom says “no,” and they’ll even break out a couple of the really old techniques and you’ll see teenagers whine and cry to try to get what they want.

Parents soon realise that they cannot give a teen everything they want and they know it’s not good for them even if they could, so they start saying “no” a lot again. Teens, if you haven’t already guessed, are resourceful folks as well. They soon figure out that if they want anything, they’re going to have to get it themselves, with or without you. We all learned how to do it ourselves and it worked.

So, that’s what we do. We do it ourselves. We do not need anyone’s help for anything anymore because we are grown-up. We even reject unsolicited help because we do not need it anymore from anyone. Until... we come across something that we cannot do or get or have. We’ve been self-reliant so long that we have forgotten things we used to know how to do. Ask for more than you want. Persist. Hope.