As a busy mother of 3 young children, I was desperate for them to develop some independent skills early in life. Our determined daughter didn’t need much convincing! She began preparing her school lunches from grade 2, to keep up with her older brothers. I was delighted to be relieved of lunch-making duties and decided if our 7-year-old could do it – my husband must be capable too!
We desired for our kids to be strong and capable individuals, encouraging their independence wherever possible. However, there were times when it would have been better if they had involved us. When a mentor raised the value of interdependence, I recognised this was a preferable concept for parenting and life generally.
Interdependence connotes shared responsibility, where each contributes what they can, for the good of all. There is an underlying valuing of others inbuilt. I work interdependently with Gaye, who is talented with layout and pictures, while I contribute the words. We are both rewarded by the final outcome of a piece, because it is better and more efficient than either of us could do alone.
Whereas contributing from areas of strength makes us feel good about our abilities, the biggest gain is the joy of community. It can be a huge relief to work, play or make important decisions with helpful others, rather than on our own. Often an independent response is required and easier, but when greater wisdom and skill sets are needed, you can’t beat a cohesive team.
Hugh Mackay observes in his 2019 edition of ‘What Makes Us Tick’ (p xiv): ‘…in the end, our responsibility to the species usually prevails: we are, by nature, cooperative, collaborative communitarians.’
The Bible agrees: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ,’ Galatians 6:6 (NIV)
Do you have the humility to ask someone else into that project you are struggling with? Alternatively, you could contribute your talents to a joint project that benefits others. Take the risk first - to enjoy the benefits later!
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.