We often talk about being a couple as a closed system: CoupleWork™, CoupleSkills™ and CoupleTalk™.

The fact of the matter is, we are a part of our larger families; part of the people we love and enjoy; and the people who are upset with us from time-to-time. We are part of the people we worry about, and are afraid we might be a burden to. And, when it is all said and done, we are grateful that they are in our lives and that we are in their lives.

Have you ever been in this situation with your aging parents or adult children: You see a situation that concerns you. You believe that you have information, life experience, valuable skills and resources, money, sage wisdom and you want to offer “help” from the best place inside you; a place of love and caring.

Sometimes your help is welcomed and appreciated. Other times, your help is seen as overbearing, interfering, controlling or intrusive; and there is no way to know before you offer help how it is going to be received.

You don’t want to ignore a situation you are probably identifying correctly, and you don’t want to “poke the bear” as the saying goes.

In my experience, this simple offer is the best way to open the door:

I care about you a lot. Is there anything I can help you with right now?

In this conversation, less is more. It’s true. LESS IS MORE.

Three more things:

1. Anything else you might say can easily sound like criticism, judgment, disapproval or send the message that you don’t trust their ability to handle the situation “successfully” without your help.

2. Don’t name the baby, as my wise Grandmother used to say. Meaning, don’t specifically identify the problem or situation that you are observing and want to help with. Your characterization of whatever is going on will more than likely be offensive and instantly cause that metal security door to slam shut. You know what I’m saying.

3.  Before you make your offer, get really clear about exactly what “your help” will include. Make a list that includes how much time, energy and/or money you are willing to contribute. There is no altruism. You have limits; identify them and honor them.

Relationships with family are tricky because they matter and we care. Tread with care, respect and love.

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!   

Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC
www.DrJackieBlack.com ~ DrJackie@DrJackieBlack.com