Today is the first day of ‘complete independence’ for me in more than twenty years: My son, my youngest child, has finally reached the milestone of legal adulthood – and thus his independence.
My son has been longing for while to become more independent, to make his own decisions and take responsibility for them. He has actively practiced stepping out toward a self-determined adult life. Today, he has reached that milestone. Congratulations! Flurin, I will continue to support you on your life journey – no longer as your father and legal guardian, but as Othmar, your father, friend, and mentor if that is possible and desirable.Yes, I have no more dependents to declare on my income tax return. Technically, I can see myself as becoming independent – ‘without dependents’ – in the sense of being freer, without the legal obligations of a parent towards dependent children, and therefore more self-sufficient. From a different point of view, those legal implications of a child reaching adulthood and becoming independent are relatively meaningless in a parent’s life.
When Ursula and I decided to have a child – maybe children – together so many years ago on the farm in a small mountain village in the canton of Grisons, Switzerland, we were aware that this would be a long-term commitment. And despite all the significant changes in our lives and our relationship – marriage, separation, and divorce – we still honour that commitment.
However, that commitment now transitions from being primarily an obligation and liability (a contract imposed and enforceable by the state) to become more a devotion to the relationship. I really like that aspect: Instead of having an outside force define part of that commitment, I have to be intentional and choose how to relate with my children. The driver of the ongoing commitment must come from inside, and is hopefully guided by the Light.
It is fancy to think of my ‘newly acquired independence’, of my sense of having fewer obligations and increased self-sufficiency in life. These effects are real, indeed, but I believe the notion of independence is a fallacy. Intentional human beings are never independent. Individualists live with that illusion; and contemporary societal dictates actively promote such belief as part of the capitalist-consumerist paradigm.
My own understanding is that human beings are always interdependent parts of the universe; particles in a organism that are inseparable from the whole and thus always dependent on all the co-particles and the organism in which they are embedded. Therefore, no matter how independent children and parents seem to become, we will always be part of each other, but we can choose how to manifest that connection!