I had a very interesting exchange with one of my daughters yesterday. This complete teaching rolled out of me line after line. I am certain that I did not come up with it myself, but must have read it in some form, somewhere, some time ago. It began with a discussion about the need to participate in household chores, and her desire for me to rethink the idea of assigned chores. Her idea was that everyone should just take care of themselves and their own messes.
At first I didn’t know how to respond to her, but eventually the Lord (I think) helped me to clarify to her, what she was going through. She, like a lot of young people her age, has a desire for independence. She simply would like to cast off the pressures of responsibility, and do her own thing. This is how I explained it to her, perhaps it will be useful to you.
Family is and interdependent arrangement, we rely upon each other for the proper functioning of the whole. It’s not unlike the church. The church of Christ is a body, so scripture tells us, and each member has a function to perform. Each member is useful and necessary. Unfortunately, we do not have control over members of the church in the same way that we do a small family unit, and nearly 70-80 percent I would guess, are really, non-functioning members. They come and go, they receive, but never contribute, never give of time, talent, or resources. Now I explained, that that is not something as a father, and head of the household I would allow in my home. We participate together, and it was useful to explain to her what was going on inside of her.
She really wanted independence.
There are stages of life I will call the “circle of dependency.” I’ll describe them here:
Dependent: Birth to Adolescence. – When a child is born, they are completely dependent upon their mother and father or other caregivers for everything. The maturational process will work this out of them naturally as they grow and learn and begin to take on tasks that will enable them to be a help to the whole. The timing of this will depend upon training, discipline, and the demands of the parents.
Interdependent: Adolescence to Young Adult. – This is the next stage of the maturational process where the young person has learned their place in the grand scheme of a functioning family. They have certain requirements that they must complete. Unfortunately, depending on the success of training and maturity of the individual, these requirements may have to be “forced” as it were, upon them. It is here, that privileges and the use of material things can be used to coerce obedience until such time as the individual accepts the idea that participation is a good and right thing.
Independent: Young Adult.– This is the stage that my young daughter is at. It is a time when the world opens up to a young adult. With the addition of driving, increase of social opportunities, and desire to be their own person, some young adults have a tendency to cast off the demands of interdependency. This particular stage, seems to me to be entirely unnecessary, and a product of a more recent cultural shift. We have become less and less dependent upon one another for success, and youth and individuality have been promoted as cultural ideals. This independent stage, is nothing more than old fashioned selfishness. This is the road that many a young person travels, even young married couples often spend some time here, where they are the focus of their lives. I explained to my daughter, that this option was, of course, wide open to her, but that she needed to know exactly what road she would be choosing. It’s not a road that is pleasing to the Lord. It’s an expensive road. It’s a road that, if taken, would not necessarily assist her with becoming more of an adult, but actually might be a step backward.
Interdependent: Maturity. – This stage of life will arrive at a different time for everyone. Some young people “get it” early and go straight from adolescence into maturity, skipping the unnecessary independent stage altogether. This is when we understand that we need each other to succeed. We have developed a mature attitude about being friends with those outside of our own age demographic, and we willingly participate with one another sharing gifts, time, resources, etc. The hallmark of this stage is a the lack of need to be coerced or prodded into participation, they may even find themselves leading others into the same stage of maturity. Spiritually, this is the time when an individual really excels at being a disciple of Jesus, this is His desire for us in the church family.
Dependent: Old Age – This is sometimes a heartbreaking time of life, as an individual deteriorates physically, they are no longer able to be the participant that that they once were, and they become increasingly dependent on others. Interestingly, if an individual has had a healthy interdependent stage, they will most likely have a higher pool of assistance during this time. I’m speculating here, but a lack of proper interdependence in family as well as church or other social structures probably is a major factor in the high population of assisted living and nursing home facilities. Again, this is due to a cultural shift away from family and church being the major hubs of society.