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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Independence and Family

I have had several conversations lately with several different people about the importance and specialness of having a relationship with one's family.  It is something that I have been thinking a lot about in the last few weeks since getting the rare opportunity to see my own family. An incredible emphasis is placed on the family in the frum community.  Shabbos, holidays, summers - many occasions are celebrated with one's family.  Outside of the frum community also, many milestones and moments are punctuated by the gathering of one's relatives.    I am not especially close with my family.  I see them extremely rarely.  I talk to my parents a couple times a week.  I don't typically share my day to day concerns, worries or issues with them.  When I get sick, I take care of myself.  I love my family, but we do not have the closeness that I see in many of my friends' relationships with their relatives.   This has given me some great advantages.  I have learned to be extremely independent, to manage things on my own, it has given me confidence that I can support myself and not have to rely on others.   But lately I have found myself envious of those I see who are close with their families, close both in proximity and in relationship.  Independence is a gift, but sometimes I want someone to lean on, who will be there for me.  I have friends whose parents drive to see them when they are having a bad week - my parents don't know when I am having a bad week, and even if they did, coming to visit wouldn't be an option.   I think this ability to support each other is so beautiful about families, and I hope that when I have a family of my own, my children will be able to lean on me and I will be within a drive for them when they are having a bad week.    I think the lesson of independence I have been given is not a bad thing - at some point I think children need to be able to support themselves.  But I hope that I will be able to improve upon my own experience and give my children the independence of being on their own, along with the knowledge that I am there to give them the emotional support they need whenever they need it.   As so many other things, it comes back to balance.  It has taken me a long time to realize that while independence is a wonderful thing, too much of it can be detrimental to many aspects of your life.  For me, it has meant a distancing from my family that I regret, and a certain type of loneliness from the difficulty I have in asking for help from others, because I don't like admitting that I can't handle something on my own, that I am not totally independent.    I hope that I will learn from my own experience and be able to pass on the right balance to my future family.

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