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Monday, July 1, 2013

Motivational Monday: A Modern Parenting Parable: Who Is Ready for Independence?



*Photo by Nicholas_T on FlicrCC
This is a repost with some minor changes from last year around this time:

Thought for the Day: Since Independence Day is later in 2 weeks, I decided to write about independence. I searched for stories & parables to help me with this task to no avail, I decided to write a short modern parable from a psychologist's point of view on independence. I hope  you will help choose the conclusion. So here's my first attempt at a parable:

The Johnstons had difficulty conceiving. Mary & Robert Johnston, like many couples these days. put their faith in modern medicine & artificial insemination despite the stress it put on their intimate life. After years of trying, they were thrilled & a bit anxious when they learned they were going to have triplets. Two healthy boys, John & Joe, & a girl, Jenny, arrived nine months later. Mary & Robert stepped up to the challenge of having an instant family of five. Once the triplets were in kindergarten, both parents found it necessary to work to support them.

However, the stress of parenting triplets sent them into therapy. Robert kept hearing about adult children returning home & staying dependent on their parents. He was worried about having to support his triplets forever. Mary felt obligated to give her children whatever they wanted. Given their differences of opinion, they wanted the therapist to help them plan for the triplets independence. With the therapist's help they devised a plan. They taught their children that they would have to fend for themselves when they reached adulthood. They reminded them frequently that when the time came, they would give them an independence challenge. They would be given a week to prove to their parents that they were capable of fending on their own. Read on to see how the challenge turned out...


All three of the children commuted to college, since they knew they were not ready to support themselves. After graduating, they were all anxious to live on their own. As their parents had promised, they were each given a week to come up with a plan to prove to them they were ready to live independently.

At a family meeting a week later, the children came prepared. John told his parents, "I will need to stay here & work for one year to save. Once I have saved enough money to buy a ticket to the Far East, pay for room & board in Thailand, I will set out on a journey."  John planned to sell trinkets which he would bring from America in the marketplace in Thailand. With the money he would make, he would then travel from country to country. In time, he would decide what he wanted to do & where he wanted to live. He had planned out a budget & said, " I will be ready to go it on my own in a year." Although the plan seemed a bit far fetched, Robert & Mary figured that over the course of a year it might become more doable & agreed for him to stay for another year.

Joe told his parents, "I plan to design an app for the iphone & sell it online." He said that, "Once I sell the app to Apple, I will be able to support myself." Mary & Robert knew that their son was bright & resourceful, although it was unclear to them how long it would take, they also accepted his plan & hoped he would achieve his dream.

When Julie handed her parents a tiny folded slip of paper, they were afraid that they had failed Julie as parents. They were even more surprised when they opened the scrap of paper & read: "I. O. U."  Robert was shocked & asked, "How can you expect us to believe that you are ready to live independently when all you are telling us is that you owe us something?"

Julie replied, "You have cared for me all my life. You taught me to take care of myself, to be kind to others, to share with my brothers, friends & our community." She went on to explain, "You expected me to be responsible for my actions & to pay my debts. I am indebted to you for everything I know about life, I will pay you back by becoming an independent, caring, responsible adult."  Her parents realized that their daughter was perhaps the most prepared for independence & sent her on her way with their blessings.

What do you think? Were the triplets ready for adulthood? If you were their parents would you feel comfortable sending them out into the world? How do we know when our children are ready for independence? What can we do to prepare them? Which of the three will be most likely to succeed?


*Photo credit
Independence Rd
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicholas_t/3735258421/">Nicholas_T</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

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