A friend of mine was telling me about an interesting situation his 7th grade daughter’s gotten him into….
Seems her best friend lives with her Dad every other week even though they have a schedule problem: he works in Denver and has to leave by 7:00am to get to work on time, but school doesn’t start until 8:30am. She can, of course, get up, get ready for school and bike the about 2mi without a problem, but what happens when the weather’s unpleasant?
Enter my friend’s daughter who suggested that on days when “the weather’s yechy” they could swing by and pick up the other girl on the way to school, so she doesn’t have to bike through rain, snow or similar.
Seems reasonable, but when the Dad hears about it, his pride is apparently wounded and he gets upset about the deal, insisting she’s fine to ride her bike in any weather. I mean, we do all live in Boulder, Colorado, home of the most hard-core bicyclists in the world, as far as I can tell. 🙂
Well intentioned offer but now the other Dad’s upset. Problem.
That’s when my friend asked me for advice.
My impression of the situation is as I have already labelled: a father’s pride and, probably, frustration with the fact that he’s a) single parenting and b) has to leave for work so that he can’t help his girl get safely to school adds up to a difficult situation for him. Definitely tough.
What you’d like to see in a situation like this is someone who can gracefully accept help and say “that’d be great if you can help. thanks!” but I think that us men in particular have a hard time asking for help, even from our closest friends and, yes, spouses.
It’s something about our cultural programming that we might not be islands, per se, but we sure have to act like we’re strong, capable and never falter. That can be a heavy burden to carry sometimes, and when most guys do finally ask for help, it’s way into what therapists call the “911 zone” rather than the “411 zone”. Y’know what I mean?
My advice for my friend was to step back and tell the other Dad that he’s in charge: If he’s more comfortable having them out of the loop, the girls can easily meet up at school, no worries. But if the weather ever stinks, they’re happy to be on standby, ready to swing by and pick up the daughter if they just have sufficient warning to leave for school a few minutes early.
I haven’t heard back about how it went yet, but I’m hoping that’s sufficiently safe for the other Dad to be cool with the situation.
Because we can all use a little help now and then. We just have to remember that asking for it — or receiving it — is a sign of being smart, not flawed.