Watch out moms and dads, we have been fed a lie. And as a culture we have collectively savored and swallowed it.
The lie about the virtue of independence.
Spit. It. Out.
We have heard and even bought into the philosophy that our kids must learn to be, strive to be… independent.
But let’s think about it… is that a value you really want in your family, in your kids?
Yes, of course I want my children to be responsible adults; to be people who can make a living and support themselves.
But… I don’t want them to feel they have to tackle the world like the Lone Ranger. I want my kids to know they can come to me and my husband when they need a shoulder, some encouragement, or even a hand.
Instead of independent kids, I want to grow family interdependence with a God dependence.
Here are two of the biggest deceptions out there (in my opinion):
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
Those two principles encourage the independence lie. Neither of those statements are biblical. Of course we get more than we can handle. If we didn’t, when would we seek the Lord?
The world can be a lonely place. We are not created to go it alone. God wants us to depend on him and encourage and support one another. We are not meant to be solo-souls. We are beings created for relationship.
I want to live in a home where a family resides; one where people rely on one another, laugh together, share tears, and do life together. I want my kids to know, no matter what, they have parents and siblings they can count on.
The best way to foster interdependence without sacrificing personal responsibility is to help each other and be involved in each other’s lives. The message, “It’s your problem, you fix it” may encourage personal responsibility but it kicks interdependence to the curb.
Here’s what a healthy interdependent approach might look like when kids are young:
The child spills and the parent says, “That’s okay everybody spills. I’ll help you clean it up.” The idea communicated is, “I’m here with you. Spills are no big deal. I spill too.” The heart qualities grown are: humility, empathy, and compassion without obliterating the characteristic of responsibility. The underlying message sent is, “Our family is a grace-filled group of people who help each other out when life gets messy.”
When kiddos are older, the life spills are bigger. An interdependence technique at the teen stage may look like this (at least it has in our home), “That’s okay. The car can be fixed. I’m glad you are okay. Let’s figure this out together.”
By working though life spills and car wrecks together we knit our families closer. If we focus on independence our family ties become frayed.
To me, success is raising responsible and caring people who are able to rely on one another and trust the Lord throughout their lives. It’s a beautiful thing when a parent hears one sibling say to another,“That’s okay everybody spills. I’ll help you clean it up.”
I don’t want my young adults to be the Lone Ranger. I’m hoping they are more like the Musketeers.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic,
love one another,
be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 3:8
What are your thoughts on this subject? I’d love to hear.
By Lori Wildenberg
Wife to Tom, Mom of 4 (plus a daughter-in-love)
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of 3 parenting books
Lori is available for parent consulting, speaking,
retreats, and parenting seminars.