Declaration of Interdependence

Title: Declaration of Interdependence

Subject: social studies

        We celebrate today as the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, an event that took place 226 years ago.

        Our country has changed tremendously since 1776. It has matured and blossomed.

        We and our children reflect similar growth in our own lives. What lessons can we teach our children so that they will be responsible citizens of our country and the world?

        The greatest lesson is the understanding of the fact that there is a stage of growth that goes beyond independence. We encourage our children to move from dependence to independence. We celebrate the steps that they make along the way: learning to walk, tie their own shoes, feed themselves, go to school, ride their bicycles, and achieve their education.

        From the kidsí perspective, they are in a hurry to cast off the ties to their families. This, to them, is what marks their movement toward adulthood.

        Ours is a competitive nation that places a high value on independence. Many people, though, donít recognize the role that interdependence plays in our lives. Itís a topic of discussion for us to have with our children.

        We depend on each other in a household. Everyone benefits from tasks done by one person, whether it is the cooking, laundry, home maintenance, or completion of school assignments.

        As our children grow, they recognize the increasing importance of their peer group. They develop these relationships, often to the exclusion of their own family members and the other adults in their lives. They may need regular reminders that they cannot live truly independent lives. We adults remind them of this as gently as possible.

        Whether we think about our high school days, college education, jobs, or neighborhoods where we have lived, our fondest memories are based on the relationships with people we have made during those times.

        Let us move to the macro level, considering the parallels that exist between person-to-person and country-to-country relationships. Nations depend on each other in much the same way that individuals do.

        Therefore, the most valuable lesson we can all consider today, especially with regard to teaching our children, is not just the independence of our country but its reliance on the wisdom, cultures, and inhabitants of other countries.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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