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in-di-pen-duhns [independence]

…is freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

Hmmm…at a very young age, around 10ish, if my memory serves me correctly, my parents, well mostly my mom, because even though my parents didn’t usually fit the sterotype of the 50’s Father Knows Best group, was still the raiser of the children, and gave me “freedom” to make most of my own decisions.  Which I now categorize as “independence” based on the definition above.  Pretty astounding when you think about it.  She believed she had given us, my four brothers and I, a solid foundation on which to base our decisions on. She taught us right from wrong,  taught us about accepting the consequences of our actions, and that learning through trial and error wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  So my independence at such a young age wasn’t scary as it might seem to some. We were prepared, and prepared early, to face the world and all it had to offer.

I can’t say I was quite as “liberal” as my mom when I was raising my own children but I did instill in them that they should be “convicted” in their beliefs. Standing up for them and not backing down. In one of my daughter’s “independent” moments she choose to go against a decision I made of one of her requests.  She wanted to cut classes to go visit a very sick friend, in New Jersey, where we used to live. (We moved to Doylestown in 1990). I wanted her to wait until the weekend, feeling school was more important.  That weekend her friend passed away. He was only 17 and looking forward to graduating. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer but no one thought it would happen so quickly.

My daughter “knew”. A few days after his death, she confessed that she felt she needed to go see her friend right away and not wait, and she had. She said they spent a wonderful day together. That they laughed, cried, went for a drive in his new convertible with the top down, even though it wasn’t quite warm enough, and ate forbidden fast food.  His mother had thanked her profusely when she was leaving. Telling her how much it meant to her and to her son.  It had been a special day and his mother was grateful.

My child made a decision, one that countered mine, and was willing to accept the consequences. When she told me I was stunned.  Rarely did she go against my wishes. But as she shared her story, anxiously looking at my face to “read” my reaction, she too was surprised when I acknowledged she had done the “right” thing.  She made a choice that she was believed was the right one for her.  I knew on that day that she had become her own person.  One who was ready to be free from control, influence, support, aid or the like, of others.

As we prepare to celebrate our countries day of independence, let’s also celebrate our individual independence. We are fortunate to live in a land where freedom is one of our rights. Together we need to continue to work together to help end domestic violence so all people can enjoy this inalienable right.

Liberty for all!

Jacalyn Hartzell, AWP Communications Manager

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