You’re at your smartest when you know to do this

If you’re like me you enjoy helping other people. I also seeing help as a way of honoring those who have helped me over the years (and there are a lot). So it’s rarely a question of whether I can be of help, the question is how?

Yesterday I participated in a discussion in which a woman was asking for guidance on whether to support her father after he’d made a huge mistake. She’s estranged from her father who has been abusive, blaming and enjoys his substances. Her mother phoned asking for money to bail her father out of jail after he was arrested for DUI.

The dutiful daughter in her thought she should support him unconditionally, which (as she knew), she’d done in the past and his behavior hasn’t changed. She feared enabling him to continue this trend. 

Another part of her wanted to yell at him and tell him to get it through his thick skull that he did this to himself. She didn’t like that option either, thinking she’d only be upsetting herself as he found someone else to blame and ignored her.

Others in the thread gave wonderful support, suggested she already knew what she wanted to do but needed to act or that she needed to search her heart for the answer.

My responses in threads like this tend to be more direct and less fluffy. I suggested the following, “Sometimes the best help we can give is to get out of the way.”

It’s common to think of helping as taking a deliberate action to solve a problem. As I described above, she realizes that if she took the requested action it could perpetuate the problem. Who knows what the root of her father’s troubles are, but she knows she lacks the knowledge of how to address them.

Let me give you a scenario, you come upon the scene of an auto accident. You want to help but don’t know how. Suddenly, highly trained members of EMS show up and order you to get out of the way. How do you respond?

“I got this guys, I just need a minute to Google what to do.” Of course you don’t, you get your ass out of the way.

You know it’s one of those moments when the best way for you to help is to get out of the way, knowing that help is out there but it doesn’t need to come from you. 

Natural consequences can be tough to witness. You can decide to feel guilty for allowing them to unfold without intervening. But you and I both know they’re powerful teachers.    

I routinely recommend allowing natural consequences for the parents of children with ADHD and Asperger’s that I coach. The key is knowing how to have a conversation with your child about those consequences in a way the child will listen and learn. Many of these conversations are recorded and are available at

Thanks for being you,


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