Where do you draw the line between helping someone and teaching them how to help themselves?

Depends on the lesson and what you’re trying to teach someone. If it’s trying to teach them to help themselves by repairing something is one thing versus helping someone out of a jam with giving them $20 is another thing. It’s something that can last a while versus something that is more of a courtesy.

Parker Heise

River Falls

Teaching someone how to help themselves is about empowering individuals to take control of their own lives, paying it forward.

Jeff Nachbar


Helping people is very important. If you get the chance to teach someone how to fish so they can feed themselves that has a lasting impact.

Kam Sweeter

Minneapolis, MN

I draw the line when it’s apparent that they can’t help themselves, that’s when I’ll step in. That’s when it’s worth my time.

Jeff Paulson

St. Croix Beach

With quick fixes, you help them. With longer, bigger issues, then you teach them how to fish as opposed to feed them for a day. I think everybody has the capacity to do something beyond just a quick fix.

Todd Streeter

Lake St. Croix Beach, MN

I think whenever you can, you teach first. It’s like teaching a man how to fish out of the Bible. There’s satisfaction in that, a sense of accomplishment, “I did this.” It raises you up when you can do something for yourself. It’s not always easy to do.

Tom Nettleton


In the middle. I’m more than happy to help people. Teach them maybe, depending on if they are teachable. Helping somebody with their groceries is easy. Teaching someone how to sew or fix their computer on their own takes more time, but I’m likely to give them a shot.

Mary Stanaitis

River Falls

Depends on who it is that needs help. Someone who is homeless, tired and hungry, I may give them food or a blanket and not try to teach them to go get a job or something of that nature, but if it’s my kids, and they came to me and asked for some help, I would give them the help and then try to guide them into figuring out how to do it on their own.

Pat Dougherty


I’d like to teach them how to help themselves so they can learn and move on and better themselves. The decision has to do with who they are, how bad do they need my help and can they do it on their own. If they can’t and I can help, I will. Maybe they’ll be able to help someone else.

Rick Pearson

Lake Elmo, Minnesota

A combination of both. As a nurse, I teach and I also encourage them to be independent so they know how to do it right the next time. You have to evaluate the situation because I’m investing my time but I lean toward helping. I like to see people succeed.

Jen Meagher


I’m teaching my 10-year-old daughter how to do her own laundry so she can’t be mad at me when her favorite sweatshirt’s not clean. I lean toward helping people. It’s just my nature. Hopefully they’ll use what I taught them moving forward.

Celena and William Ingebretson

Falcon Heights, Minnesota

It depends on how old the person is. If it was my daughter, I would want her to figure out how to help herself without me always giving her what she needs or what she wants. If it was a stranger, I would look at the situation. I lean toward wanting to help, but I’m a little introverted, so I probably wouldn’t reach out. It’s hard when it’s somebody you don’t know. But I see the merit in helping.

Ann Burke