top of page
  • Writer's pictureColin Cass

The Ease of Rescue

“Rescuing”

 

Is it the most common word that parents identify when it comes to areas of focus?

 

As a parent coach, it is by far one of the most popular terms that I hear. Whether it is a set of parents that I am working with who are self-proclaimed ‘rescuers’ or it is a program telling me that they are struggling to manage parents who ‘rescue’ too much. We can call it ‘rescuing’ we can call it ‘enabling’ we can call it ‘helicoptering’ but whatever we call it, the focus of this blog is not about catchy names of the behavior. It is about how easily we can fall into the behavior.

 

Let me start off with an example:

 

Prior to becoming a parent coach, I was the Director of Admissions for a young adult transitional coaching program in Bend, OR. In that role is where I first started working with parents directly on a more consistent basis. In my first few months I enrolled a young man, 19 YO, from Boston. His mother flew him out to help him get settled and to “help him” set up his room in his program provided apartment directly across the street from our main office. She spent the majority of her stay making sure he had absolutely everything that she thought he needed. When she left, she was self-assured that he was set up for the ultimate success. We sat in my office for a few more minutes and I encouraged her to trust the process and to make sure that she allowed space for her son to advocate for himself and rely on the program. She agreed. She asked me several more anxiety riddled questions before heading to the airport for her red eye back to Boston.


"She spent the majority of her stay making sure he had absolutely everything that she thought he needed. When she left, she was self-assured that he was set up for the ultimate success."

 

The next morning around 7:30, as I sat in my office, I received a very angry phone call from the mother. “MY SON JUST CALLED ME AND TOLD ME THAT HIS TOASTER IS BROKEN. “HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO MAKE BREAKFAST?! IF HE DOESN’T EAT, HE CANNOT TAKE HIS MEDS AND THEN HE CAN’T FOCUS AND HE WILL FAIL HIS CLASSES. I THOUGHT YOU ASSURED ME THAT WE COULD TRUST THE PROGRAM…” At some point, when the yelling stopped, and she awaited a reply, I asked her one simple question: “Is there a reason you are calling me from 3000 miles away, when your son is sitting in his kitchen 100 yards from my office?”

 

Silence

 

Eventually her reply came, “THAT is a great question. This is what you were talking about yesterday wasn’t it? Once I heard him say he was struggling I called you immediately. I didn’t even think about it.”  

 

I share this example, not because I want to shame a mother who fell back into an unproductive pattern of behavior. I share this example because it shows how easy it can be for a parent to jump into rescue mode. She had been in my office the day before. She had my phone number in her recent text messages. She knew I would answer. As soon as she got off of the phone with her son, she was calling me within seconds. (***the toaster was not broken, he just needed to hit the reset button on the outlet***)

 

If parents are not able to recognize this necessity and shift their approach to parenting, rescuing becomes a relied upon behavior.

So often for parents rescuing becomes second nature. They are used to solving problems for their children and rightfully so. Children need things to be done for them. However, as they start to become more independent and launch into young adulthood, they need to figure out how to solve problems for themselves. If parents are not able to recognize this necessity and shift their approach to parenting, rescuing becomes a relied upon behavior.

 

There will be plenty of blogs on our page that will address the importance of not rescuing, and how it effects the young adult, and why it is necessary to allow our children to fail. For today, I simply want to highlight the importance of having awareness around our behaviors. If we get stuck in a place of reacting because it is what we have done in the past, it may be time to consider a different approach.

 

If you are a parent who is a self-identified rescuer, I encourage you to practice pausing. The next time your child turns to you and is in distress, ask yourself:

 

Is this mine to solve?

 

Is this something they can figure out?

 

What is the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t step in?

 

This pause allows us as parents to make sure we are not jumping into an old pattern of behavior just because it is easy. Identifying the ease of rescue may only be the first step, but it is a critical step in changing how we show up as parents.  

51 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page