Arlene is on the SCENE

The Helping Relationship–Who’s Who?

Posted on: January 26, 2011

I wanted to write about our recent article in the Quadangles magazine, especially as we begin writing the sequel to Arlene On the Scene and get into this whole “helping/caretaking” issue.  In the article, I am described as offering help, or “ministrations,” to Marybeth while we were roommates in college.  Okay, that’s true.  But I’m afraid my point that this was as helpful to me as it was to  Marybeth might be written off as just another line in the caretaker’s script, just a standard demure response to the waterfall of gratitude.

The helping relationship is incredibly complicated.   I should know; I have lived it both personally with Marybeth and professionally as a social worker.  From the outside, it really does look like selflessness, pure human kindness, in essence a one-way street.  But I just don’t see it that way from in here.

There is incredible personal reward for those who help others.  It’s  just there, whether it stems from your religion, your value system, your personal moral code.  We’re a connected society, and when one reaches out to help another, that helper gets rewarded, usually directly and in the moment, as well as indirectly from others.  In a lot of these situations, the helper enjoys an increased sense of efficacy, self-worth, perhaps even…power?

When it comes to people living with disabilities, sometimes their life is stuffed to the brim with situations in which they need to ask for help.  Inherent within the “Can you help me?” can be “…because I can’t do it myself.”  And then of course, there’s the thanking of the person who has helped them.  Does this get old?  I really wonder what would be left of my own sense of efficacy, self-worth, and power if I were in that position.

As we advance our thinking about people living with disabilities, as we begin to embrace disabilities as differences that enhance the mosaic of our society, I think we also need to rethink the helping relationship.  Caretakers and those who offer help deserve every bit of gratitude, no doubt.  But when I think back to my college days, and I read the article in Quadangles, I’m sticking with my version of events: I benefited as much or more from those years as a caretaker, and I’d redo it again in a heartbeat.  Because I got something out of it too.

Who is helping who?  It’s a two-way street.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Free Teacher's Guide! REVISED for Common Core!

Teachers: Print script from "Rebel Queen" for classroom.

Download Extension Activity here

If you've heard of Bill and Pete, click here

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Arlene On the Scene is proudly sponsored by the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation.

Past entries

Follow Carol_B_Liu on twitter

%d bloggers like this: