Some people find it difficult to ask for their needs to be met…And this week I happened to have several clients who reminded me of how hard it can sometimes be to make specific requests. I myself, used to have more problems with asking for help or telling someone what I would like.
In my case, this was because I had a lot of responsibility as a child. My mother was very sick when I was nine years old for a few years. I was the oldest of five children all under the age of nine, so you can imagine there was a lot to do! I remember being taught how to fry an egg, how to make my little brother’s baby food, and how to make simple dinners from a young age so that I could help my family. By the time I was twelve, I knew how to clean the entire house and make a full dinner while juggling playing with children!
Parentified children become so used to figuring things out on their own that as adults they often still struggle to ask for what they need in their relationships. It takes practice, goal-setting, and creating new habits to change this. I know first-hand that asking for help, love, or support was something I had to really work on in my life!
Here are some examples of simple requests that can be difficult for some people to ask for within their relationships:
- “Will you help me move some boxes out of the back room?”
- “Are you able to take care of this project and run with it for a while? I am swamped…”
- “Would you mind if I stopped by to spend time with you this weekend? I miss you.”
- “Will you please hold me and comfort me while I have a good cry?”
If these types of requests sound foreign to you, it could be that you were never really taught in your family to communicate this way. In fact, you might even feel angry and upset when you have a yearning or a need that does not get met. Even though you have not communicated the need or made a request from a loved one or a coworker…
If asking for what you need is difficult, there is probably a reason why. For example, many people who find it difficult to make requests in their relationships have a history of being neglected in their childhood or early adult relationships. In some cases, it is difficult for adults who had a lot of responsibility as a child (as I discussed above) to ask for their needs to be met. For some people, if there is low self-confidence then it is hard to feel worthy to make relationship requests.
If you struggle with making relationship requests, you are not alone. However, remember that you are worthy of healthy relationships and you are worthy of love. Being able to ask for what you need in a soft, caring way is a relationship skill that is a predictor for relationship success – so I hope you will work on this and find a way to have your needs met!