We all have traits and characteristics that we find valuable–kindness, patience, generosity, thoughtfulness, etc. As parents, we generally try to instill those values in our children while discouraging the unfavorable traits. We don’t all place the same level of importance on these various compass points. Some people see being affectionate as more important while others feel that being a unique individual is held in higher regard. For me, developing independence in my kids is paramount.
I am very independent. Very. I’m sure I just about drove my mother crazy with always wanting to do things for myself, by myself, my own way. Most of the teenager attitude and the arguments I had with my mom stemmed from me wanting more independence and her not allowing it to the degree I wanted it. (As an adult with a teen and tween, I understand why she didn’t allow everything that I wanted. I get it now, but I definitely didn’t then.) Growing up I didn’t learn much from other people telling me how something would turn out. I needed to experience it on my own to fully learn the lesson–good or bad. Going off to college was scary for many of my friends. Not for me. I couldn’t wait to get out the door. I wanted to be on my own. Independent. Spreading my wings.
That’s something I’ve always wanted for my kids. As a parent I’ve been ready to see them develop, get to the next stage, do more for themselves.
You can hold your head up? Yay!!
You can sit up by yourself? Yes!!
You can feed yourself? Nice!!
Dress yourself? Woohoo!!
Pour your own cereal? Perfect!!
You cooked dinner for the whole family? Awesome!!
That doesn’t mean that there weren’t days that I didn’t just want to feed them, dress them, or bathe them myself because it would be faster. There were plenty of those. But more than anything I was happy that they could do more on their own. Being able to stand on their own two feet. Literally.
Now that they’re tween / teen aged, I feel an even more urgent need to develop and encourage their independence. They don’t want to do chores, but it’s about learning how to take care of themselves and where they live. You have to know how to do laundry, cook and do dishes. When they leave this house to go out into the world and do their thing, I want to know that they’re prepared to live on their own. I want to know that they won’t need anyone else. That they can make it. Independent.
As they begin dating, I want them to be themselves and be in a healthy relationship. I want their relationships to be an asset, not a necessity. I don’t want them to be at someone else’s beck and call. I want them to be independent.
That brings me to Selena Gomez’s current song “Come and Get It.” It’s got a snappy little beat. I tap my foot and shake my booty when it’s on. I feel like I have to groove when I hear it–it’s infectious. I love it. But I also hate it. I absolutely loathe the lyrics. She sings over and over “When you’re ready come and get it” in the chorus. Every time I hear it, I cringe. I think “How about ‘NO!’?? How about ‘I like you, you like me, can we look into this dating thing?’ Not ‘I like you, you decide if / when you think I’m worth your time and then we’ll check this out; I’ll just twiddle my thumbs and sit on my hands while you do what you want to do and I’ll be waiting with my life on hold.’ Ooohhhhhhh, Hell to the NO!” It makes me crazy, especially when I think about an interview I heard with her on the radio as the song was initially being released. She said that she was really excited about the song because it’s about being empowered. What??!! This poor girl has no idea what it means to be empowered … unless, of course she means that she’s giving the power to the person she’s singing to. THAT person is being empowered. Especially when you consider more of the lyrics.
You ain’t gotta worry it’s an open invitation
I’ll be sittin’ right here real patient
All day all night I’ll be waitin’ standby
Can’t stop because I love it, hate the way I love you
All day all night maybe I’m addicted for life, no lie.
One really good thing about this song–other than the catchy rhythm–is that it brought about a good conversation the other day when it was on in the car. The Girl and I talked about the message behind all this. About the importance of not allowing others to define you or your worth. That if someone can’t decide whether or not they like you or are willing to commit to you, then they have decided. We talked about the idea that you shouldn’t give your heart to someone who isn’t on board with how fantastic you are. That sitting around waiting for someone or something “good” to come to you isn’t the best path to happiness. We talked about the value of being independent and how important it is–for us individually and in a relationship.
Maybe I should write a rebuttal song … When It’s A Mutually Good Time and We’re Both Interested, We Should Go On A Date. Or maybe I Think You’re Cute but You’re Not Interested? Ok, Bye. How about We Like Each Other? Cool, Let’s Go Out!
Sounds catchy, right?