I watched my daughter struggle to get a large bowl loaded into the dishwasher. She tried a few ways and then began huffing and puffing, grunting and grumbling. Finally with all her might, she managed to wedge it in triumphantly. But before she could savor her victory, we both heard a loud “POP”! One of the plastic tines inside the dishwasher had broken, unable to hold the dishes in the way she’d forced them in. Frustrated, she turned to me and let out an angry groan. “Honey,” I chided, “I wish you would ask for help.”
Ask for help.
It is something that many of us adults find hard to do, when we let the monster of pride get in the way of progress. But parents, I am here to tell you, we MUST raise kids who will ask for help when they need it. Encouraging them to ask for help, no, TEACHING them to ask for help, is one of the very best things we can do for our kids.
In an episode of Lewis Howe’s podcast “The School of Greatness” last year, shame researcher, TED Talk-er, and speaker/extraordinaire Brené Brown, mom of 2, said that there are only two types of kids you can raise: “kids who ask for help when they need it and kids who won’t. And that’s as good as it gets, to raise a kid who’ll ask for help.”
When I heard those words and then read them again, I was struck with how very profound that statement is, and I instantly KNEW it to be true. Floods of examples from my own young adult life come to mind. I know I have to teach my kids to ask for help at a much younger age than when I learned that it’s necessity was good, a sign of maturity, and not something to invoke shame.
But pride. Pride is the enemy of progress, of vulnerability, and of community. Pride is the enemy of honesty, and it will scream at us that to ask for help is to admit defeat. The Bible has a lot to say about pride, especially in Proverbs. Chapter 16 verse 18 is so often quoted that we might automatically tune it out, but we shouldn’t, because it is as true today as it was thousands of years ago: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (ESV).”
Whether it’s dishwasher destruction, as in my daughter’s case, or school assignment destruction as a child…giving in to pride and refusing to ask for help can result in major career, financial, relationship, and family destruction as an adult. And what’s worse, indeed the very worst thing imaginable for me as a parent, is that pride can destroy our child’s relationship with God. If my child fully believes that he or she is capable of doing EVERYTHING on their own, why would they need God? Why would they need Christ’s salvation? Psalm 10:4 articulates my nightmare scenario for my child: “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God (NIV).”