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If I offer you help, you OUGHT to take it. Is this really so unreasonable?

25 replies

SpeedyGonzalez · 18/05/2011 16:02

Not me, I'm far too considerate for such nonsense. Grin DH's family does this - they insist that you really don't know what you need, so if they offer any help, however trivial, and you say "Oh, thanks, but I'm fine," what you actually mean is "Yes, please help me, even though I've done this a thousand times before I am suddenly rendered entirely incapable of independent thought and action," and they keep insisting you accept their offer until they wear you down.

Similarly, there's the woman at the shops who kindly offered me a tissue to wipe DD's houmousy hands, saying "I could see you were struggling" (er, no I wasn't, I was having a jolly time with my daughter but thanks for your kind offer). Why did she think it was okay take offence to my polite refusal? "It's alright, the tissue's clean," she said in a peeved voice. Wtf? How did a smiley "No thanks, I'm fine" turn into "Hands off my precious child, you filthy mutt!"?

It's very kind to offer help, of course it is, and I regularly do so to others if I think they might need it. But surely the help offerer should be prepared to back off and respect the wishes of the person they're speaking to?

OP posts:

Bumfuzzle · 18/05/2011 16:09

ah well, you're supposed to accept even though you don't need help. "thanks, that's kind of you"

It's part of the dance we all do as part of society and if you don't go along with it, the universe'll explode.

or summat.

Or you could just throw caution to the wind, fix them with The Look and say "I said no. what the hell is wrong with you?"


redskyatnight · 18/05/2011 16:11

My mother once said to me that I was very selfish for only accepting help when it suited me. The comment baffles me to this day. I mean, if someone offers me something I don't want it's not actually helping surely?


SpeedyGonzalez · 18/05/2011 16:17


Redsky, that is weird. And patronising to the help offerer - it's like saying "There, there, you emotional weakling, I'll accept your help to make you feel better." Hmm

I think that if you're so worried about upsetting a kind offerer, or so easily upset by a kind rejection, you must have a fragmented sense of self. Sad
OP posts:

Playdohinthewashingmachine · 18/05/2011 16:20

Dh once told me that I wasn't "very good at accepting help". I said, actually, I'm very very good at accepting help. The skill lies in judging whether what is on offer will really be helpful, and refusing the offer if not. He didn't get it.

People always offer to help me get our pram through the front door, if they're with me. Actually it's pretty easy - bit of a manoevre but doable as long as no one else gets in the way by trying to help. So when someone offers to help I say "yes please, could you just go and stand over there while I do it". Grin. And when MIL comes in the kitchen when I'm cooking and says "can I help?" I say "ooh yes please, could you go in the playroom and keep the children entertained in there for me?"


killingTime · 18/05/2011 16:20


Had a huge row with a mother of a teenager girl on long day out when I was dealing with middle DC poo accident. Girl kept trying to insist my ds have her free hat. He didn't want it - I was fighting to get him re-dressed and visibly desperate to get to the sink. I smiled and declined pointing out he didn't want it. She kept insisting I was politely declining pointing out she was now upsetting DS then all hell breaks lose from girls mother because apparently the girl was 'doing me a favour' and I was being ungrateful Hmm. Found the hat dumped outside.

I have family who keep offering to do stuff insisting we can not cope ect but when I are worn down and say Yea please - suddenly they can not help Confused.


Curiousmama · 18/05/2011 16:20

It's because they're control freaks. I think there's a bit of it in all of us but some people are unreal!


ExitPursuedByAKitten · 18/05/2011 16:24

Playdoh - I think you could be me. DH always moans about the fact that I won't accept help. But he accuses me of being a control freak - and I am.

Just leave me alone ffs and let me get on with things my way!


daimbardiva · 18/05/2011 16:40

I have a friend who does this sort of thing all the time - insisting that I need help, or that I can't cope with things, when actually I can, to the point of making themselves a total nuisance. And this is not me being too proud to ask - I am not shy of asking for assistance if I actually need it.

I don't know why folk do it - maybe to feel needed? To feel superior to you? Who knows!


aldiwhore · 18/05/2011 16:46

I have an aquaintence and made the huge mistake of accepting a bag of hand me downs from her...

Despite the fact I've said very poiltely that she should pass them on to other people now as my house is brimming with 'stuff', she continues to drop bin bags full of clothes at the door when I'm out. I returned a few bags to her door and she was awfully upset (?????) even though I put a note on saying thank you.

She also gave me a bag of toys and suggested I wrap them for Christmas, this was in front of a few other people I know... sheesh.... I mean I'm not rich, but I didn't realise I looked so poor and needy!! Its actually starting to really fuck me off now... think I will try the "what the hell is wrong with you" approach, but there would be tears.


minipie · 18/05/2011 16:54

It's annoying isn't it - but I think it's to feel needed/useful. My DH does this to me sometimes (eg insists on carrying stuff for me even though I'm fine with it). It's sweet but also kind of belittling. I think he does it because he wants to do something nice, and he likes to feel needed.


SpeedyGonzalez · 18/05/2011 16:55

I am so relieved to read your posts. I was half worried that I might be flamed with lots of 'you ungrateful whore' type posts - you know the kind Grin.

playdoh - I like your style! I shall try your pram one next time - you get so used to doing things yourself that sometimes kind help is a hindrance.

OP posts:

cherryburton · 18/05/2011 16:59


Help is supposed to be helpful innit.

killing - I also have family who say they will help, but then if you actually asked them they'd say, oh, we can't do that because we have to do this, that and the other etc etc. Hmm


SpeedyGonzalez · 18/05/2011 16:59

Ugh. Spare me the good intentions of people who need to feel needed. I'm sure that sounds bitchier than it's meant to, but it's sort of using people, isn't it? It seriously irritates me when it's accompanied by lots of emotional pressure, aka manipulation . Well, it used to irritate me - nowadays I mostly shrug it off with a raised eyebrow (behind their backs! Grin).

Curiousmama - the people I'm thinking of are control freaks, as it happens!

OP posts:

BanalChelping · 18/05/2011 17:02

You ungrateful whore! Grin

The problem with most offers of "help" is that you have to explain several times how something needs to be done, answer an abundance of questions mid-task, then sort out the resultant mess. I just find that it's quicker and easier to do everything myself.


HeadfirstForHalos · 18/05/2011 17:09

My ils are like this. They once kept on telling dh they were going to buy him a pine headboard for his birthday Hmm despite him mildly protesting again and again that , although the offer was very kind, we really didn't need/want a pine headboard.

A week before his birthday they showed him one in a catalogue, saying that was the one they were going to buy. At this point I had to intercede as dh is bloody useless too polite to express himself, and I just said "Look, we're very grateful, but we really don't want a pine headboard (in my best polite but firm voice).

Mil looked all wounded and said "well we know you have pine furniture in your bedroom and we just wanted it to match". DH and I had to exchange grins as our bedroom furniture was white, his bedroom had been pine when he lived at home 20 years earlier though Grin

Also when my 2 eldest were small ds and dd 18 months apart, she bought them matching zip up jacket things (from aldi). They were pale blue, and had darker blue heart embroidered onto them, and a heart on the zip. I thanked her but said I wouldn't be able to use the one for ds as they were girls jackets. She stormed off in a huff with both jackets shouting "well beggars can't be choosers" Shock

I didn't even want or need the fecking things! She did give us the one for dd after she had calmed down, and the zip caught and broke after 2 wears much to my delight disappointment.

She is always offering to clean out house too. I made the mistake of gratefully accepting once, it was hell on earth and now I always thank her but say no Grin


AnonymousBird · 18/05/2011 17:20

My PIL's are a bit like this, they offer help when you don't need it, and they offer and offer and offer until you give in accept.

And then you have to be oh so grateful for help for something you didn't need help with and would have managed just fine, and quicker, on your own!

EG. My PIL's took my DDog away "for a couple of days" on a trip to the seaside. I was very happy for them to do this - they lost their dog a couple of years ago, and love to walk etc. Two days has turned into two weeks, I don't mind, but now it's all "oh well, you are very busy, it must be easier for you if the dog is away for longer" bla bla bla. ie. we are doing YOU a favour now. Yes in a way, it saves me the walk but I am quite happy to do the walk, so now I have to be eternally grateful for them dogsitting when I didn't really need them to dogsit!

So now I owe them, apparently! Hmm


MittzyTheMinx · 18/05/2011 17:36

Oh this bugs me with my Dad and others. I am quite independant and always have been but it cause issues when offered help if I decline or even intimate that it isn't what I was needing.

Then the offerer gets passive aggressive huffy and offended.
I always think it is because I am stubborn, difficult and frigid (as I have been told) but I find it more useful if someone openly offers to help as in 'is there anything I can do?' and is prepared to do what you need.

This is certainly what I do, as it just seems to make sense to me.

I do decline unwanted help graciously though, whatever I am thinking Grin


MarinaIvy · 19/05/2011 22:57

My MiF(not L) still doesn't get why I/we don't still express undying gratitude for the pram.

When we first told her we were expecting, she (in a break with tradition) spoke to me, and said "one of the major expenses is a pram, how about I give you one?".

We don't care about material goods, but this sounded interesting, definitely coming from this source. So we were drawn into the whole thing.

Long story short, the pram in question was:

  • a hand-me-down, of some 15+ years' vintage, and with absolutely no 'mod cons' (like steerable, or even vaguely movable, wheels) - we could have bought something comparable from the local charity shop for £10. Rather than...
  • lat her friends' home which, though close to hers, was 2+ hours' drive from us, or
  • about 5 hours' train journeys from hers/theirs, which she not only thought was fine for my not-registered-disabled-only-because-he's-a-proud-idiot partner to do, pushing a pushchair, but also preferred, because, gods forbid, I (the driver) attend the wedding attended by a lot of people she'd told porkies about me to.

    But, because my MiF had arranged for these people to get rid of this thing cluttering up their garage, which her more local grandchildren had already rejected, and all she'd done was be a go-between, we're meant to kiss her ass for the rest of our lives.

    Postscript: We've given the pushchair in question to a local charity shop, and bought something useable off ebay for a mere £30, less than the petrol!

Themumsnot · 19/05/2011 23:11

When my eldest DD was a few weeks old she was, naturally, breastfeeding more or less constantly, which I was perfectly OK with but which appeared to drive my MIL and SIL slightly insane. SIL kept pressing a dummy on me and when I refused (politely) she burst into tears and went into a dramatic rant about how she "was only trying to help, but what was the point if all her advice was going to be ignored" sob sob sob.
I've never really understood how trying to force someone to accept a solution to a problem they don't have can actually be termed helpful.


QualiaQuale · 19/05/2011 23:14

if its just a fecking tissue though, just take the damn thing. It's polite, it makes them feel better, its no bother to you. Other things, bigger, sure YANBU, but its not hard to be polite about the little things.


SpeedyGonzalez · 20/05/2011 00:09

Qualia, actually I did take the tissue. And thought the woman was very weird for making such a big deal out of nothing. But, tbh I don't think I should compromise myself by accepting help which is unnecessary/ going to create more problems for me. Why should they not respect my boundaries?

Mumsnot - OMG what a freakishly abnormal response.

OP posts:

ThisIsANiceCage · 20/05/2011 01:02

redskyatnight, are we sisters?


ShoutyHamster · 20/05/2011 09:03

I have been known, at the third 'no, but you must', to say:

'Oh! Goodness, I see. I thought you were offering help, I didn't realise you were giving me an order. So sorry.' (big smile)

Only when in a really bad mood though.


PumpkinSnatch · 20/05/2011 09:40

YANBU. A dry tissue will not remove houmous from hands as it turns crusty and bitty on contact. I would have been peed off at the 'I can see you're struggling bit' as well if I wasn't! Although she probably meant 'before your dd smears it everywhere!' Had a wet wipe been offered without the comment, however, I would have gratefully accepted.


FlappyBaps · 20/05/2011 11:08

Nope YANBU. Have had the same thing with PIL - with our dog (I feel your pain Anonymousbird!), and with various "jobs" around the house that FIL sets to on because he's basically a bit bored. Came home from holiday one year to find the front door was letting buckets of water in ever time it rained because he'd "helpfully" shaved a bit off to make it close easier, and a carpet laid BADLY up the stairs. He had an offcut which we had gratefully accepted, but saying we'd get it laid properly. No, honestly, thank you but we'll get someone in to do it. Really. No, really, but thanks. He's now returned our spare set of keys so we can leave the house safe in the knowledge that he won't have taken matters into his own hands again...

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