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Asking for help

Being a parent is one of the most important roles you’ll ever play, and probably one of the most challenging.

Children don’t come with an instruction manual. Yet somehow parents are required to be instant experts.

There are loads of books and blogs about what to expect when you’re expecting, how to manage the first few years, developmental milestones, figuring out what each crying sound means, nutrition options, building resilience and self-worth in kids and teens, etc.

Even so, there’s no guarantee your little bundle of joy will fit the norm. Where does that leave you?

Who’s there for you?

Our survey of more than 4,000 Queenslanders found:

Most people turn to a partner or another family member for parenting advice. Doctors are another highly rated information source, along with friends and neighbours. 

71% of the people we surveyed said they’re comfortable asking for help or support, and they’d ask for it again.

Unfortunately, around 13% of Queensland parents say they wouldn’t turn to friends or family for help because they fear being judged.

It can also be hard to find the right words to say, so we’ve developed some conversation starters that can help.

Making an approach

You can ask for help face to face, over the phone or via text or email. One thing to keep in mind about emailing or texting – it might seem like the easiest option, but everyone’s so busy these days it actually may be harder to get people’s attention. The truth is, once we start talking we’re often able to express ourselves better.

Starting the conversation

You can ease into it simply:

“I’m so glad I ran into you …”

“I’m so glad you picked up, I wanted to talk to you about something …”

“I don’t feel like I’m doing that well at the moment …”

“I’m feeling a bit stressed at the minute and don’t feel like I’m coping …”

“You might have noticed I haven’t seemed myself lately …”

Asking for help

Try to be as clear as possible about the support you need, perhaps saying things like:

“Can we meet for a cuppa and a chat?”

“(Dave) and I aren’t finding the time to talk about what’s going on with us right now. Could you take the kids for an hour to two while we work some things out?”

“I’ve just been so tired and stressed that I feel like I can’t get my head together. Would you mind taking the kids for a play date one afternoon? I really need to get some sleep and some time to myself to think some things through…”

“You seem really good at keeping organised and on time – how do you get everything done each day without losing it?”

What if you don’t get the help you need?

If you don’t get the response you were looking for, don’t give up. You might just need to ask a little differently. Think about:

  • Being clearer or more specific about what you need
  • Asking someone else
  • Maybe offering some help in return like car-pooling or play dates.

If those around you can’t offer the help you need, there are many community-based family support services available. Ask your GP, Community Nurse, or even your child’s teachers. They’ll know where to direct you.

Show your appreciation

It’s nice to let the person who helped you know they made a difference to you and your family.

Helping someone else

Maybe you can think about how you can ‘pay it forward’ and help someone else. Everyone can have difficult times when they’re bringing up a family – it’s likely you have strengths that others would benefit from.

Last modified: 
22 July 2016