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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Love is all we need, so why not ask for it?

December 21, 2009

Sometimes we choose to walk alone. Sometimes we've got no choice.

Sometimes we choose to walk alone. Sometimes we've got no choice.

Right before Thanksgiving a few years back, a dear friend emailed me: “I know this is incredibly presumptuous, and Miss Manners would be scandalized, but I’m wrangling for an invitation.”

I was blown away. Not by her directness (God no!) but by the fact that she felt she had no right to say, “I need a place to be on Thanksgiving. Can you help me?”

We were heading out of town for the holiday, but I immediately called my friend and thanked her for trusting me with the truth and for honoring herself. She was relieved she’d done the right thing by speaking up. Most of us are much quicker to stand up for others than for ourselves. Especially women. On some level we must believe that we don’t deserve to get our emotional needs met. But where does that foolishness come from?

Babies are irresistibly cute so adults fall hard and take care of them. Once they’ve gotten their sweet baby hooks into our hearts, they’re great at expressing their physical and emotional needs. But as our kids grow, our conversations with them center mostly on the physical aspects of life: Sweetheart, are you hungry? Do you want something to drink? Is it nap time? Why don’t you put on a sweater?

As a result, asking for that tangible stuff is very easy for kids: Dad, I need a ride. Mom, I need you to sign this. I want a new computer. I need some money. Because most parents don’t focus on helping kids express emotional needs, tweens and teens rarely say: I need a hug. I need to share this exciting news! I need a shoulder to cry on. I need a kind word. I need a friend. I need you to tell me the truth. I need help.

I asked a bunch of 6th-8th graders to rate themselves on these two statements: “It’s easy for me to ask for help.” and “I pretend things are OK when they aren’t.” The results? 25% of the kids said, “It’s never or almost never easy for me to ask for help.” Another 25% reported that “sometimes” they had trouble asking for help. And here’s another sad finding: A whopping 83% admitted that “sometimes, always or almost always” they pretend things are OK when they really aren’t.

An unwillingness to ask for help coupled with a habit of pretending things are fine when they’re not is no way to live. In fact, when we deny our human need to connect heart-to-heart, we end up short-changing ourselves and the people we’re closest to.

A parent’s role is to raise an emotionally healthy young adult. That includes helping a child recognize what he/she is feeling and learning to ask for support when needed. Of course self-reliance is essential and being able to calm yourself at times of stress is a life-skill, but we’re all interdependent. When we let people love us and help us, we honor the most human part of ourselves.

Turns out my friend was brave enough to express her needs to someone else who gladly opened his heart and home. Consequently she had a wonderful holiday.

This season, hold nothing back. Allow yourself to love and be loved fully, without reservation.


Filed under: Holidays,Parenting,Pop Culture — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 4:03 pm


  1. Oh, how I could have been as brave as your friend. It’s not easy asking. Yesterday, I went out on a limb and spoke candidly with a friend about a similar incident. I’m not sure what the result of my conversation will be. I needed to read this blogpost today. Thank you.

    Comment by Marie — November 5, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  2. I’d like permission to republish this on my own blog, “a few good friends…” with full attribution, of course. This is a subject I should’ve thought to go after sooner – and eventually I’ll have to do my own take on it. LOL But I like yours. A lot.

    Comment by Ron Graham — November 6, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  3. […] Annie Fox helps teens become more self-aware, self-confident and better able to make choices that reflect who they really are. An author, educator, and adviser, she originally published this article in her blog. […]

    Pingback by Love is all we need, so why not ask for it? « A few good friends… — November 7, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  4. That is so true. Telling people what we need is tricky business at any age.

    Comment by Andrea — November 24, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  5. Wow, this is very powerful. I struggle with asking for help too. I think I should be able to do it all and I don’t want to bother others. But I love to help,others, go figure.

    Great post, I will definitely be aware of this with my girls.

    Comment by Carolyn Nicander Mohr — November 7, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

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