• David Unger, PhD

Helping Out




I was listening to a sports talk show and one of the commentators mentioned that he had just gotten a text from his mother who was on vacation in Ireland. She told him that she had heard it was hot and that he should go to her place and take a swim. And while he was there would he please give the lawn an extra watering as it was so hot. The sportscaster then went on a small rant about how his mother should not be thinking about the lawn when she was on vacation. She should be enjoying herself and not thinking about day-to-day things. His co-host said he thought the lawn and the plants were like children to his parents and now that they no longer took care of him they had adopted some new children to watch over and guide through life.


I thought that was a pretty astute observation. And the more I thought about the more I agreed with it. But it is not just an empty nest kind of thing. I think the adoption of people/things to take care of starts right away with that blankey, stuffed animal or other thing that comforted you and you didn’t want to be without. We all have had people and things that mean a lot to us and whose welfare we care about. I am sure the sportscaster’s parents had enough room in their hearts to love and support him and the lawn along with numerous other people and things.


Most of us have to take care of ourselves once we reach a certain age. Most of us manage fairly well to take care of ourselves and we all know there are things we could do to improve our management. We all also have others in our lives that we take care of in various ways. We compliment someone on a new outfit even if we don’t think that much about it, we give a friend a lift, we help a co-worker out with some work. Mostly we take care of ourselves, our children, our parents and our extended family. Our children may move out of our home and have one of their own, but that doesn’t stop us from caring about their welfare. We too have moved out of our parent’s home and yet our concern does not leave with us.


Sometimes we are eager to help out and other times less so. Whatever our motivation, research does support that helping helps the helper. People feel better about themselves when they care for others. Grumbling as he was I would like to think that sportscaster went and watered the lawn, had a swim in the pool and felt a little better about himself.

#helpingout #vacations #grownchildren #relationships

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