What’s the difference between helping and enabling? That’s a tricky question. It’s one that I’ve been battling with myself over for some time now.
The dictionary defines ‘help’ as doing something to make it easier for someone… to aid or assist someone. ‘Enable’ is defined as making something possible or easy. But isn’t that essentially the same thing? At least in literal terms, it sounds like a positive action. So how come I constantly feel like I’m doing my parents an injustice?
Here are some examples:
1) The Mail – getting it saves my parents time and a trip down the elevator. Saving my parents a trip down the elevator keeps them from leaving their home and from having something to do to break up the day.
2) The Store – going to the pharmacy or picking up dinner saves my parents from having to do these chores themselves. Doing these chores for my parents keeps them from leaving their home, having something to do and from socializing with other people.
3) The TV – turning on the tv, taping programs and checking the guide saves my parents from ever having to learn how to operate the remote. Operating the remote myself, instead of insisting they learn how to do it themselves, keeps them reliant on me, doesn’t challenge their brains, keeps them (basically) in the Stone Age and out of touch with technology and the resources of the 21st century.
What’s the difference between HelPing and eNABling? BN HAP (being happy)!
4 thoughts on “What’s The Difference?”
This is a really important question and I’m so glad you raised it. If everyone helped each other, regardless of age or disabilities, it would be a wonderful world. So, the easy answer is: always help as much as you can. Still, it is altogether too easy to become dependent on others. All children should learn how to take care of their own toys and clothes and later their homes. We lose these abilities as we get older — not because we can’t do them — but because we choose not to in order to do something else: play tennis instead of clean the house. But there are always chores to do of varying degrees of physical ability and we should insist that older people continue to do their share as long as possible. We don’t stop being responsible adults because we are seniors or retired or whatever lest we invite second childhood far too early. Just use common sense and don’t shovel snow or fix the roof. I am 79 years old and have stopped doing many things. ButI still want to take care of myself, my belongings, my home. I still want to be a good citizen and participate in elections. I want to use my computer and my reader and wish I knew how to fix them when they go wacky (I have learned to simply unplug everything and give the electronic toys a mini vacation so they can fix themselves.) Yes, I do need help with some things but I am keeping it to a minimum as long as possible and, I suspect, all of us wrinklies would like the same opportunity.
While I am writing, please allow me to thank you for your insights and good humor!
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Thank you, Betty. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, wish you much luck with your computer and other devices and am happy for any help that my blog can provide on a variety of topics 😀
From a 61 year old son relating to his 82 your old mother: Helping can also mean discussing on an adult to adult versus child to adult basis what do you want help with and see if you agree that the help is needed. I found that reasoning with parents as adult to adult leads you to be more intelligent in your thinking and causines the parent to think in the adult role versus parent role. As a child I only insist on helping when it is unhealthy or dangerous for the parent to do so and it is explained factually in a slow soft spoken voice. Many times my Mom says I just need this help today. Other things, like money and budget, we discuss and I implement. This enables my mother to be involved in the managing of money with me doing most of the legwork.
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You’re quite right, Bob. But I’d add to that those moments when you just know acting before asking is the best route. For instance, little things like helping to get their arms into their jacket sleeves before they end up frustrated and possibly hurt. Same with double-knotting shoe laces before they inevitably trip and cause serious and lasting damage.