My dad was in a roll-over accident the other day. Miraculously, he was not hurt except for a scratch on his arm, but he totaled his truck. He is getting older and his Parkinson’s is getting worse, and it is time for another one of those difficult tug-of-war conversations between the desire for independence and making wise choices.
This situation has caused me to contemplate the great number of difficult conversations we have on that subject throughout life.
Anyone who has spent time around toddlers knows that the “I want to do it myself” declarations begin early. Independence means tying shoes and picking out a favorite shirt to wear. It is a difficult stage for young parents who balance teaching new skills and keeping little ones safe.
Adolescents push this contrast to a whole new level. With a sense of invincibility, the almost-adults keep parents on their knees as they begin to get around without parent-provided transportation and challenge to make independent decisions about friends and values.
Young adults move out, but are sometimes still tied financially to the nest. Some stay tied emotionally too, but others sever the family cords dramatically as they choose career, spouse, and lifestyle independent of family control.
As we age, we change sides, and the child’s desire for independence from parents converts to the parents’ resistance to dependence on the children. Just as the young ones want to act independently, so do the older adults. Independence struggles for mobility, living arrangement and health care choices.
We all take pride in our independence and do not want to burden others. We each believe we can make (our own) wise decisions and want respect from others as we attempt to stand on our own. These on-going struggles seem inevitable at every life stage and a part of a good, healthy life journey and growth.
If that is true, maybe I should not fight so hard, no matter what stage I am in. I never really have complete control over my life… even less others’. In my heart I know that help from others is a very positive thing; good counsel facilitates wise decisions. It takes humility to accept help, and less pride is good for me too. Perhaps instead of facing this as a tug-of-war, I can view this as a both/and relationship rather than an either/or debate.
How do I find an alliance between appropriate independence and respect at each stage of life AND appreciate the wisdom of others in my life? How can I help others to do the same?
How do you handle the desire for independence and wise choices?