Independence: The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.
Independence: Yours. Your childrens’. How do we create our own, and foster our childrens’ independence? I’m going to cover this topic under one umbrella, because whether you’re 6, 16, 36 or 66, every girl or woman needs to be equipped with independence skills.
Growing up, I was always taught to assertive and independent. I think my parents taught me well, because, sometimes, I’m a little TOO independent and can become a bit of a loner, but that’s a whole other topic. I was taught the value of a dollar, and that a woman should be intelligent, well read, and be able to stand on her own two feet, even if she doesn’t end up having to utilize all those skills for survival. I know many women who are exceptionally independent to this day, and those who couldn’t take a “crap” without their husbands. I love both kinds and I don’t judge.
I am trying to raise my boys to be independent. From teaching them early on how to brush their own teeth, to getting themselves dressed, to speaking up for themselves against the class bully (without being a tattle tale), to making the right life choices between right and wrong. I really want to raise them the right way.
I have two very different children (as most of us do): my oldest – struggles with independence. I was at the height of my frustration juggling work and home during his early years, and perhaps I overcompensated and did too much for him. He’s 6, and he still asks me to wipe his bum after he goes to the bathroom. I tell him, “You wipe yourself, and I’ll do the last wipe if need be! But, I’d rather you do it on your own.” Of course he’s a perfectionist (comes by it honestly) and can’t cope with an imperfect wipe! We’re working on it.
My youngest – can’t be independent enough. I crack up every day, as his chosen “pooing” spot in the whole house happens to be MY OFFICE. So, I’ll be working, typing up a great idea, and then my train of thought gets interrupted, and I’m thrown out of here, “Mommy, go away. I have to poo, I need my privacy.” Spoken like a true mini grownup who knows exactly what he wants. He exudes independence. Big son: “Cut my food.” Little son: “Don’t cut my food. I eat myself.” The dichotomy is hilarious.
But whether you’ve just left a marriage and find yourself suddenly on your own having to fend for yourself, or whether you feel your identity shrinking in a relationship, you need to find your independence. Every woman needs to find her voice. I am in a loving relationship where my husband is the sole bread winner, but I speak with honesty when I tell you, if I found myself alone tomorrow, I would know how to support myself. I’m not tooting my own horn, I just was brought up this way. It’s in my soul, it was how I was taught. In fact, sometimes my voice gets me in trouble. Sometimes it’s too outspoken, or too loud.
Now, I don’t think we should live our lives whereby any minute, we could be dropped on a desert island and have to quickly learn survival 101! But, I do think every woman should be able to have or do some of the things below:
- Have your own bank account. Some husbands or boyfriends are secretive when it comes to money. If you find yourself in a relationship where your man doesn’t seem to be the most forthright, it’s time to get a backup plan. Can you save some of the money he gives you to live? If you are working, can you put away a little each week? Even if it’s to splurge on something for yourself and your rainy day never comes, you should know how to sign a credit card, and then be able to pay it.
- If you are in a position where you don’t have to work for financial reasons, VOLUNTEER! Get involved in a local charity, and have a voice. Organize a fundraiser. Allow yourself as a capable woman to shine. It’s very important to give back and to have something that is just your own.
- Learn to be alone, and comfortable in your own skin, on your own. Shop alone. Have lunch alone. Go see a movie alone. Learn to be assertive. You do not need to be picked up to go to the restaurant. You can meet your friends there. Spend some alone time. Work on activities that force you to lead, not follow! This is gradual, and it’s a process, but you can do it.
- Try and not seek other people’s advice or approval on every decision you make. Learn to have faith in yourself. Trust yourself and your judgement. If there is a decision that can be made, make it logically, and on your own. I promise you, you hold more power and knowledge than you think.
- Strive for assertiveness and independence. Don’t make others do what you can do on your own. And also, try and discover your passion or hidden talent. I became my most assertive and independent when I started my business. It showed me that I had talent and skill on my own, separate from my parents, and spouse. It gave me tremendous confidence.
So, whether you’re single, married or recently divorced, I urge you to become an independent woman if you haven’t become one already. You never know what life has in store for you. And when you master it, pass it to your kids.
What are you tips for creating self-independence and independence in your children??