Today, my friend Sarah posted on her page this: “So. You hold the baby who asks to be held. You snuggle her to sleep and you show her that you are reliable.” She continued by writing “Just don’t call it independence squelching.” And she shared about her 16 month old daughter who was “toddling off into a wide open field as fast as her little legs will take her, turning only briefly to wave good bye to her mama before swaggering off towards the other, brighter playground in the distance.”
I shared on the thread about Psychology class in college where we learned that the baby monkey’s that the moms paid attention to and held when they asked were the same monkeys that were independent in exploring their world. It wasn’t as you would think. Working with babies doesn’t follow behavioral psychology. If you are there for them, you teach them trust, not clingy-ness. It is a a beautiful thing.
The conversation moved from there to someone sharing that independence is overrated and interdependence is what makes healthy families, and Sarah wrote ” When I think in baby terms, it’s not true independence at all, of course – but truly, and simply *confidence*. Confidence and security.”
This was the word in neon lights in my mind as soon as I read it.
When a child knows they can depend on you, they are confident to face their world. They know someone will be there for them. And they grow up stronger. Interdependence in adults is the same thing really. When we know we can rely on someone — that someone’s got our back, we do everything else in life better.
I read another article about friendship today. The one I read a few months ago appeared in The Federalist and was called “How To Stop Sexualizing Everything” and it was by D.C. McAllister. The one I read today was by Bill Donaghy and appeared on the website of the Theology of the Body Institute. It was called “Holy Friendship in a Hypersexualized World.” Both of these point out how, in general in America, we are afraid of real, nonsexual, intimacy.
Interdependence and giving someone the confidence to know that they can rely on someone is real nonsexual intimacy. It is human. It is the way we were made — for giving, receiving, and helping one another. So often, even in families today, it is every person for themselves, and children don’t always know they can go to their parents for help. They don’t always have that confidence. But this isn’t how we were made. That isn’t what is truly human. We were made to trust those close to us who are trustworthy. It is good for our lives and food for the soul. We can make our lives and our days better by realizing that we are in this life together, being there for people, and learning how to rely on those who are reliable. There is an openness to real love that can enrich one’s life. Let’s move toward this.
May your day be blessed.
One thought on “Toward Real Relationships 1”
That was such an interesting read. I still nurse my 13-month old every time he wakes up and cries at night (if he doesn’t fall back asleep on his own). Perhaps he isn’t hungry every time; perhaps sometimes he is seeking comfort. This comes so naturally to my mommy heart and soul and I have not believed it caused any sort of “dependence” but rather that, as you describe, he is being given a foundation of security in knowing somebody is there when he needs. Now I have no educational background in psychology (except for being psycho myself? Does that count? j/k) but it makes sense to me that a foundation of insecurity would lead to neediness or codependence, whereas a secure foundation would be more likely to foster independence / interdependence / confidence. I am not indicating any parenting philosophy is right or wrong (except maybe ‘do whatever you want whenever you want with no consequences’ but I don’t think that is a parenting philosophy, just a societal expectation, lol); just saying that it is nice to read above that my instinct to give security when it is sought can foster confidence.