Rescuing Can Hurt the “Hero” and the Person Being Saved
When we see someone we care about in trouble or in pain, it is natural to want to help. Each of us has this “helping instinct,” which only grows bigger when you become a mother or father. For all that we may wish to help a sibling, cousin, or friend, the desire to do so is all the more intense for a child. However, it is important to help in healthy, respectful ways.
One valuable step is to understand the difference between helping and rescuing.
When children are young, it’s up to their caregivers to protect them. Every threat can seem enormous – to children and, often, to first-time parents. Over the years, young people take their first steps toward solving problems and dealing with conflict.
Still, it can be hard to adjust as kids mature. The impulse to protect them never goes away, nor should it. But: It is crucial to channel this in appropriate ways. What was once protective and nurturing can become something stifling.
No matter if you are helping a family member, friend, work colleague, or anyone else, it’s key to do it in a way that centers them and puts their needs first. That may be easier said than done, though – how can you tell the difference?
Let’s look at some ways.
Rescuing is Often More About the Rescuer than the Person Who Needs Help
Helping another person starts with listening. We can make assumptions about the situation, but the other person’s perspective is what counts: It’s his or her life. When rescuers come along, they often “make a big deal” out of helping and assume they know what’s best. That shifts the focus and makes the person – young or old – less likely to seek help in the future.
Rescuing Doesn’t Provide the Other Person with New Resources
All of life’s troubles are problem-solving experiences. That doesn’t mean we have to face them alone, but it does mean they present opportunities to learn and change. This is a vital part of growing up. If someone comes along with a magic wand to “solve” a problem, it often returns in the future – as we haven’t marshaled emotional resources to understand and face it.