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Old 06-08-2014, 08:07 PM
 
3,062 posts, read 2,032,370 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
Some of you may have heard of this concept, but apparently it's a new one to a lot of people, based on how often I have to explain it, so I thought I'd share it here and get feedback. Some people are delighted when I share this concept with them, and others think it's awful. I worked for years with a woman and we always got along fine, but when I left and they had my little going away party, she told me that she had never forgotten when I told her this and though it really took her aback, she realized immediately what my personal boundaries are and has applied this to her own life and passed it along to her kids as well. This concept is one of the basic, core concepts that I've applied to my own life and wow, it works!

What does "I do not accept the care and feeding of your monkey" mean? It means this - I am not going to allow you to shift a responsibility that is entirely yours on to me.

Let me give some examples:

Say that your co worker says, "Oh my gosh, DON'T LET ME FORGET that I have to call Mr. Smith after lunch." Now - seems innocent, right? But it's not. If you say, "Sure, I'll remind you," then if you forget to remind the co worker, and they forget to call Mr. Smith, then suddenly it's partially your fault - when it was their sole responsibility until you agreed to help them remember to make that important call.

My response is, "I'm sorry, but I don't accept the care and feeding of that monkey. Why don't you write a note and stick it on your computer screen or set an alarm on your phone?"

Another example - say that your grown daughter is trying to coordinate child pick ups and drop offs with a difficult (ornery) ex husband. She says, "He's always making me wait on him - he's ALWAYS 30 minutes late. I have to be at work at 8 am, so can I just have him pick up the kids at your house instead of mine? That way I can just drop them off and it won't matter if he's late or not - I'll be at work on time then and the kids will be in a more comfortable place in case he's late."

Now - wait a minute. Now HER inability to enforce boundaries has become YOUR problem. The issue isn't about her being late for work - that's a symptom of a deeper issue, which is her ex husband's lack of respect for her time (and I can promise you, he won't respect your time either). So now she goes off blithely to work and you sit and wait for her ex husband.

My response is, "I'm sorry, but I do not accept the care and feeding of that monkey. Now, I don't mind watching the kids till you can line up something else, but I'm not going to deal with your ex husband on this level since he obviously doesn't respect the time frame laid out by the court. Here's what I suggest - that you tell him you'll meet him at 7:30 sharp and then if he's not there by 7:35, he will miss the opportunity to pick up the kids. Then you bring the kids over here - but do not tell him where they are or that he can come by later and pick them up. Just tell him that since you have to be at work by 8, it's important that he be punctual, so you've made other arrangements this time and will every time in the future." Sorry, but there's no way I am going to take on the job of dealing with some jerk who leaves people waiting EVERY SINGLE TIME for a half hour to an hour or even longer.

Say your 12 year old says, "Mom, I need help with my science project," and you agree to help - and then you look around and you're googling the topic, making a list of things to pick up at the hardware store, etc and he's sitting on the sofa playing video games. BINGO - "I do not accept the care and feeding of this monkey!" There's nothing wrong with helping a kid with a project, but doggone it, he's going to sit right there beside me and look things up and make the list and go to the store with me and load the cart and do the project right alongside me!

My neighbor recently scheduled a vacation and called me and asked me if I'd pick up their mail the following week. "I do not accept the care and feeding of this monkey." Now, to clarify, I asked if they were expecting any packages from any source other than USPS and they weren't (I would certainly go over and pick up and hold any packages rather than leave them sitting on the front porch). It is SO EASY to go online and put in a mail hold request - and you can do it the night before you leave! You don't even have to go to the post office to do it. I do it all the time. So why should I make a point of walking over to their house every day and gathering up their mail and saving it for them when all they have to do is put in a mail hold request? Now, I want to keep peace with my neighbors, so I did say, "Did you put in a mail hold request?" They said they hadn't. So I told them how to do it and said, "Let me know if you have any problems with it - you're not leaving till next week, right? It's safer to have them hold the mail than to have it sit in your box overnight, and I often go visit my parents or my daughter on the spur of the moment and may stay overnight. I can't do that if I'm worried about your mail sitting in your box - so put in the mail hold - I do it all the time!" I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "And by the way, I do not accept the care and feeding of your monkey." But I was thinking it!

I don't mean that I'm never helpful - I AM a helpful person. But I help with the intention of teaching people to fish, rather than taking on the responsibility of giving them a fish every day, if that makes sense.

Your thoughts?
My thoughts?

Yes. Wall-to-wall, been therem had that done to me, wish I knew about it then!
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:47 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
609 posts, read 638,955 times
Reputation: 770
I think it's just a nice thing to do. If my coworker Sally asked me, "Hey, my wig is at the stylist and I need to pick it up at lunch," I would just say ahhh okay, sure....lol. If Sally forgot to pick up her wig and got mad at me then I might use your line but I wouldn't begin with it.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:54 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,138 posts, read 23,075,126 times
Reputation: 35408
Quote:
Originally Posted by aquietpath View Post
Jeez.....what's the harm in going out of your way a bit for your fellow man? This me, mine, scr## you attitude that has pervaded the country is way out of hand.

OP, I like your outlook on many things, but this one turns me off in a big way.
What? Who's the me me person here? The person minding their own business when someone else wants them to take care of their problems? How can that be "me me"? The me me person here, is the one wanting someone else to take care of them. Wah, I don't want to have to set a boundary with my ex, who is always late, so can I shove my kids onto you and let YOU wait for him?

Fix my problem by taking it over. Who's about "me" here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gcs15 View Post
I agree with the co-worker and neighbor incident. However, your daughter asks for help because her ex is purposely pulling this and leaving her late for work. I don't see how if you can, why you would say no to helping her and your grandchildren. This isn't a neighbor or someone you work with. This is family.
My daughter, who is 35 years old, had me driving an hour each way to go take care of problems with her tenants. While I was doing that, she was going to visit friends for the weekend, and didn't want to take my phone call about what I did to fix her problem.

I finally said, I'm not going to do this anymore. She said something about I'm supposed to love her unconditionally. Apparently loving her unconditionally meant I was supposed to take care of her problems for her, while she went to the beach to hang out with friends.

Doh.

I turned the problem over to her. She stopped talking to me. She sold the rental shortly thereafter.

I finally realized I was taking care of and feeding her monkeys, and it not only wasn't my job, but I wasn't even appreciated.

I'm a slow learner, but I have definitely improved on my refusal of the care and feeding of other people's monkeys, especially in the last year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheryjohns View Post
Also, it's not that person who rarely asks for help that is the problem. It's the one that always needs help. If my neighbor has an emergency, I will help. If he has an emergency on a regular basis - I will not help.
This is so true. I just moved into this senior apt "community" 6 months ago. All the needy tenants rush to the new tenants to see if they can get them to take care of their monkeys.

There's one woman here, who I do enjoy spending time with sometimes, but she is one of those "remind me to whatever..." people. And it's usually me inviting her to go to a food bank with me on Saturday, for instance, and her saying "you'll have to remind me." And I say, "No, I'm inviting you now. I'll be leaving at 7:30. If you want to go, be in the lobby or out front by 7:30."

Then, I go on Saturday, she's not out front, so off I go. Then, later she'll say, "why didn't you remind me?" And I tell her, "I'm not going to chase you down. I invite you and you either show up or you don't." And she'll say, "But you know I have a hard time remembering things" or "I never hear my phone alarm go off." And I'll say, "Well, how do you get to your doctor's appointments on time?" or "How did you ever get to work on time, or to other appointments for your entire life before you met me 6 months ago?" And I've also said to her, "I don't want to be your go-to girl."

The thing is, those of us who don't ask people for help all the time, don't find anything about this thread annoying. Because I wouldn't ask anyone to remind me of anything, or pick up my mail, or whatever.

There are people who realize they need to do something they don't know how to do, and those people say "Hmmmm, I need to figure out how to do this." And then there are the people in the same situation who immediately say, "Hmmmm, I need to find someone to do this for me."

Person #2 will not even open up the instruction booklet. The doo-hickey will sit in their living room for a month, until they can find someone to set it up for them. It's like their brains are hard-wired to believe that the answer to all their problems is to get someone else to deal with them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seain dublin View Post
Agree, especially the one about going to pick up the neighbor's mail.

OP better hope she is never in need of some help, or is traveling and her home is broken into.

If you can't be bothered to walk across the street to collect someone's mail for a few days, perhaps they can't be bothered to wonder why people are carrying items out of your home and into a van.
And should she mow the lawn, too? Deadhead the flowers? Clean the gutters?

Why would my mail be my neighbor's problem.

When I was a resident apt manager people tried to get me to do this one all the time, or to sign for their packages. Foolishly I did it for a few months when I first started. What a huge undertaking this is. I end up waiting for the delivery guy, then I have to track down the tenant and try to arrange for them to come get the damn package. And did they thank me? Buy me cookies? Hah!

So, I'd say, "No, sorry, I don't sign for packages for people." I've learned to say "I don't want to take on that responsibility, sorry. That's basically my mantra, like yours is the monkey mantra.

"I don't want to take on that responsibility. Sorry."

Because it is a responsibility. It's not nothing these people are asking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Djuna View Post
But how do you really know when someone needs your help. This implies you know everyone's situation intimately. Obviously if they have a pattern of constantly asking for help then you have to have some boundaries. Maybe it's just your tone that I find condescending and holier than thou.
I would bet by your reaction, that you are someone who asks others for help a lot. You probably really believe that you need help, and it would only be the right and kind thing for others to help you.

The thing is, it doesn't matter if someone else really needs help. It's. Not. My. Problem.

You really don't know the difference between someone's house burning down with the neighbor in it, and the neighbor wants to borrow your chainsaw?

I will say that since I've started defining my boundaries, the seniors in my building who want help from me now, offer to do something in return for me now. They did not do this in the beginning. Just this week someone gave me a pair of shorts because she saw I was always wearing long pants and I mentioned I don't have any shorts that fit. She had some that don't fit her anymore, and she brought them to me today, after I took her with me in my car (she doesn't have one) to a store today. She also gave me two huge bags of fresh spinach she'd gotten for free and didn't want.

The one who always wants me to remind her of things, has taken my dog with her and her dog to the park several times when I didn't want to go with her because I didn't feel well or was in the middle of something. She is having a minor operation next week, and needed someone to take her dog out twice a day until she is up and around again. So, this time, I was willing to do that for her, because she's figured out if she wants help from me, she needs to offer to do things for me. I don't ask her for help, but I will accept her offer of help and other things now. The difference is that she now offers. Same with the other lady who gave me her shorts.

When things are balanced like this, it's great for everyone. But, I'm not gonna be your go-to girl. Monkeys or no.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:04 AM
 
Location: California
30,710 posts, read 33,543,123 times
Reputation: 26151
I've never felt put upon by people but I have done the neighborly thing and picked up mail, watered plants, fed and played with a cat, etc. but this is going back years and years, there wasn't always an easy "point and click" way to do stuff. I myself asked a few favors over the years when I was stuck so it only seemed fair. I was also a SAHM so I was frequently asked to pick up, drop off, shuttle, etc. and I actually loved doing it and feeling like I was part of the circle of life . Only when it wasn't an imposition mind you. And there have been a few real urgent situations I was glad to be able to help out with.

But, I've never been one to take on anyone's "monkey" (well, yes, with my kids but we all have blind spots) so this isn't a real big problem in my life.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:14 AM
 
12,140 posts, read 6,724,866 times
Reputation: 13006
The thing about holding the mail, you are putting information out there that you are going to be away. If you do it online especially, who knows who could get it. Just a reality of the times, you can't trust where information goes. Thieves would love to know that your mail is being stopped for a week.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:25 AM
 
13,710 posts, read 13,646,439 times
Reputation: 39955
I'm lucky. I don't have a lot of people in my life that would think to ask me to take care of their "monkeys."
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:37 AM
 
13,710 posts, read 13,646,439 times
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I think the difference posters are struggling with here is the difference between people needing some help and people who expect you to do their stuff for them.

-When you ask someone to intercede or get involved in your actions with another person, that is an imposition. ESPECIALLY if you have a closer relationship with the other person than the friend/relative you are asking to intercede.

-When you ask someone to take care of something that is YOUR responsibility while you do something you would rather do that is more fun.

-When you ask someone to do something for free that you could conceivably hire another person to do.

-When you ask someone to do something for you that puts them at some sort of legal, financial or safety risk.

-When you ask someone to do something for you that puts them outside their comfort zones.

If you need a ride, if you need company at a trying time, if you need a small loan (that i can afford to view as a gift), if you need a helping hand in a moment of desperation - I'm your chick. But if you're avoiding something because its unpleasant and want me to handle the ugly for you? Oh hell no. If there's no reciprocity in the relationship? Oh hell no.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
17,097 posts, read 17,432,102 times
Reputation: 41682
Quote:
Originally Posted by JrzDefector View Post
I think the difference posters are struggling with here is the difference between people needing some help and people who expect you to do their stuff for them.

-When you ask someone to intercede or get involved in your actions with another person, that is an imposition. ESPECIALLY if you have a closer relationship with the other person than the friend/relative you are asking to intercede.

-When you ask someone to take care of something that is YOUR responsibility while you do something you would rather do that is more fun.

-When you ask someone to do something for free that you could conceivably hire another person to do.

-When you ask someone to do something for you that puts them at some sort of legal, financial or safety risk.

-When you ask someone to do something for you that puts them outside their comfort zones.

If you need a ride, if you need company at a trying time, if you need a small loan (that i can afford to view as a gift), if you need a helping hand in a moment of desperation - I'm your chick. But if you're avoiding something because its unpleasant and want me to handle the ugly for you? Oh hell no. If there's no reciprocity in the relationship? Oh hell no.
That is a good summary. Thanks.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:08 AM
 
796 posts, read 1,291,103 times
Reputation: 1144
I liked this one Kathryn with the exception of the mail pick up. If it's a good friend and neighbor, I don't have a problem getting their mail and holding it for them. I would however expect the same for me when I go away. If it's someone I don't know or have any contact with, then I would do it your way.

Too many times I have cared for "someone elses monkey" and never got thanked. Then I get mad, hold it in and abuse myself and then hate the people who asked me for help.

Kathryn, as aways, you have a great way with words and make a lot of sense. Thanks!
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Dallas
5,603 posts, read 4,950,874 times
Reputation: 16464
Quote:
Originally Posted by JrzDefector View Post
I'm lucky. I don't have a lot of people in my life that would think to ask me to take care of their "monkeys."
I don't, either. I don't put myself in the position of associating with a lot of users, which is probably why I will give help when it is needed and I am able to do it. Yes, it can be inconvenient. But if I care about the person I am helping or see a real need, I don't mind.

If I were confronted by someone who is an out an out user, I would still respond with a "gee, I'm sorry I can't help you in this" rather than the self righteous "it is not my responsibility, yada yada yada." That's just obnoxious in the extreme. It's not the idea behind it, it's the delivery that stinks.
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