What does independency mean to you? Parents use this word often when raising children and I am no different in that way. I want my kids to think for them selves, to make decisions in life that will benefit them, to be trusted, but most important – to be able to survive on their own without me there.
But is that truly what I teach? The answer is no! What I teach is actually interdependency – all the things stated above plus thinking of others, asking for help when needed, communication and to always remember the choices you make in life might not affect just you. You can be independent when need be, but can also rely on, get help from others as well. In return you are able to act alone or as a team and able to teach which benefits you as people start to look up to you – like a parent!
I never really stopped to think how a word like independent can mean so many different things untill recently when my oldest daughter started telling me “I’m 18 now and an adult, let me be Independent!”
So I asked her, “what does that mean to you?” Her answer was straight out of the dictionary
This for her as a teen is exactly what independency means. I will do what I want, when I want, and you shouldn’t stop me! I didn’t teach her to think that way, but I have said to her “I’m teaching you to be independent,” never really thinking how she would interpret that word.
I have had so many battles with her over the years with this “It’s my life, I’m an adult” type of thinking in one form or another but only now at 18 has the word independent come up. She isn’t wrong though, being independent is important at her age but it also shouldn’t come at the expense of others. You can’t forget that decisions made can also affect other people, and for her that could be myself, mom or her brother and sister. She may be 18 and legally an adult but she sometimes seems to forget 4 other people live in the house and she doesn’t own it.
This way of thinking is definitely a teen thing. Not that long ago I was in these same battles as my daughter and I are in now, but from her side and against my mom. I remember thinking the same things, saying some of the same words and wishing I was by myself. Well for me I got my wish earlier than I had hoped and thought fuck ya, this is amazing! But it wasn’t. I was stupid and slowly as time went on I realized just how stupid I was. It wasn’t until I met my wife, started a family that I realized how selfish I had become.
I know this is yet another phase in her life. She might not fully understand until she has a family of her own like me but I hope it doesn’t take that long. I know that from this day on, I want my kids to be interdependent, not just independent. I hope my oldest will see this soon, that dad isn’t stopping her from being independent only trying to make her see that it isn’t the only way of thinking. Sometimes thinking of others around you is for the best, and that it’s still being an independent adult when you do, even more so.
It can be a hard thing to fully understand as a teen, that the world doesn’t just revolve around you, that there is more to life than just what you want and most importantly that our choices have positive or negative outcomes not only for ourselves but also those around us. I know it took quite a long time myself to figure that out – but that’s part of being a parent, to teach our kids the hard things we learned in life, in hopes they don’t make those same mistakes. Thinking only of one’s self could end up pushing away the ones we truly care about and I never want my kids to feel that pain.
So let me ask you, the reader again – what does independency mean to you? Will you join me in changing how we approach it, to say we are teaching them to be interdependent instead?
Please let me know your thoughts.