How to Help the People You Love – Part 2

In part one of this three part series on how to help the people you love, I talked about helping them in the way that they need help. Not the way we think to help them. Only the person who needs help can really tell us what they need.

In the last post, I mentioned “if you’re a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, well, any one with estrogen surging through them, then you have experienced the urge to be helpful. You’ve wanted to be helpful to those you love, and sometimes even to a perfect stranger.” If you fall in one of those categories, then I know that my next suggestion is going to be hard for you.

Nurturers by nature are helpful. And being helpful means pitching in, getting our hands dirty, doing what’s necessary. Being helpful somehow implies that we need to be in the fray. But by its very definition, helpful means “giving or ready to give help.” And the last part of that definition is what I want to talk about.

“Ready to give help” is not the same as being involved. It’s just means we are ready to help if that person tells what they need from us.

When we see someone we love hurting, working hard, in a time crunch, frustrated, etc., it’s hard to not rush to their aid. But sometimes the best thing we can do is stay out of the way. 

Real life example:

You are awakened from a deep sleep when you hear a noise in the house. Of course, you wake your husband up to check things out. But you insists on going with him to disarm the burglar. In essence what will happen?

  • you distract him from what he really needs to do
  • you become a secondary priority that requires part of his attention
  • your opinions distract him from finding the solution (you know you’re going to be telling him how he ought to handle this issue)
  • he is safer

I know it’s a silly illustration, but you didn’t really want me to go there about us girls trying to help our husbands in those real life scenarios. Did you?

Real life example:

Your daughter comes home from school heart broken. Romeo has broken her heart. First reaction of a Southerner: “snatch him bald” (deep South), “wring his neck” (middle South), “give him a piece of my mind” (just South). But staying out of the way of this relationship issue, instead of helping, while going against the grain of a nurturer, will be the best help a mother can give.

What happens to our loved one when we stay out of the way?

  • they find a solution on their own
  • they learn that some problems resolve themselves, if given enough time
  • they grow in their trial
  • they learn about themselves
  • they develop life skills in the process


Being helpful means “being ready to help.” Being ready doesn’t entail action. Sometimes the best help we can give to the people we love is to stay out of their way, and let them know that we are available . . . if they need our action.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “How to Help the People You Love – Part 2

  1. It sure is hard to stand by and not try to step in and make things better! Being a good/supportive listener can be so valuable, as can letting someone process an issue in their own way. I’ve learned to ask my adult children if they want my help or opinion. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

    • So true, Seana! Listening is often the best help we can offer. When the people we love find resolutions themselves, the result is a little like organizing in the way a client thinks, isn’t it? It works best for them. Thanks for stopping by.