As I stare up at explosions of fireworks booming overhead while millions of Americans celebrate the birth of our country, I consider the foundations of what has made America the country it is today, and in part what values have influenced me as a therapist. I have lived in this country as a natural citizen in the post-Vietnam, post-industrial revolution, post-modernism era which has culminated the later part of the 20th century and early 21st century. I have witnessed much of what has made America one of the most unique political powers in the history of humanity; a relatively new country who has become influential in their cultural and political byproducts in only a few hundred years based on principles of democracy, freedoms and liberty.
Of course, being a systemic thinker, I wonder how these ideas influence our behaviors and our mindsets in much smaller systems that don’t incorporate national foreign and domestic policies . Our families and our selves often incorporate these principles in our daily actions. And, what’s more, is that they don’t often conform to what we traditionally view is a healthy family system. If parents speak of giving their children liberties and freedoms to explore and create, they are often viewed as Liberalists who cannot control their offspring. How concepts of freedom and liberty influences marital relationships is a topic I have covered in other posts, and I’m sure will continue to be covered in future discussions.
Strangely, these can be seen as very antiquated views which propelled our country to gain its independence initially, and one which influences children today as they become adults as seek their own autonomy and freedom. As children launch from the home, they seek many of the same things which our country sought in its initial stages – support from their homeland when starting out and eventual distinction from their country (or family) of origin. Issues of control continue to play out in adolescence where the concept of freedom for the teenager is balanced with a parents concern that their behaviors might be dangerous, risky, or embarrassing.
Perhaps in this way we may learn from our history. If England had addressed the colonies as adolescents preparing to launch into their own national identity, we may find ways of herding our own teens into their own independent adult lives. Giving them a voice in matters concerning them may help to foster both independence and decision-making. And avoid a Boston Tea Party 🙂 Allowing them measured autonomy while still acknowledging that their adult status is not quite there yet, and they don’t require the strains that are involved in adult responsibilities. In this way, we may not push our children out of the door before they are ready, or keep them dependent upon adults until they are in their mid-20’s, and are forced into their own post-revolution existence, needing to find ways of conducting their adulthood by necessity, and without our nurturing support.