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“Independent, together!”

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When you have raised nine children, you are subject to a lot of children's programs! Also the fact that kids love to watch their favorites over and over again, some shows become ingrained in our subconscious mind, well what is left of our mind!

My husband and I have a running gag about a line from "Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer".  In this part the elf who want to be a dentist tells the rest of the group that they can be "independent together!" My kids always thought that this was an oxymoron, because independence meant going it alone. Funny thing is a lot of adults think the same thing too!

In reality that is one of the deepest lines I have ever heard. Well as deep as you can get from "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer"! 

Being independent together is the fiber that makes families, friendships, marriages and relationships in general work. Notice it does not say co-dependent or dependent. The way it works is simple. You as a member of a group know who you are and what you are about. Then you add the support and acceptance of the group to help you become the person you are striving to become. The group also helps you with moral support, encouragement even chastisement when we stray too far. By the same token you do the same for the other members of the group!

The problem in relationships stem from when we lose sight of the fact that no one is exactly like we are. You cannot expect them to do everything like you do or to your liking. When you forget that concept challenges arise.

Notice I did not say we had to agree with everything the other person did, or said. Just because someone does not become what we would like, does not mean that person is wrong or "bad". We let them be their own individual, independent of your expected desires or concepts, but at the same time keeping the betterment of the group in sight. This does not mean letting your kids run wild. This does not mean not giving input or direction. It means letting an individual be their true self, not a bad imitation of what you want them to be.

When one member of the group forgets this, we get resentments, conflicts and soon we go our separate ways if not physically, emotionally. I feel this is the main ingredient that results in dysfunctional families; especially, if we do not know how to deal with that anger and resentment. Add to the mix drugs, alcohol, infidelity, promiscuity, illiteracy, poverty, low-self esteem or any other overwhelming variables and you have a recipe for disaster!

My kids, at times, refer to themselves as coming from a dysfunctional family. While I agree with them that my parents, grandparents and some of my siblings were and are dysfunctional. I feel that we as a family are not in that category.  Imperfect maybe, but not dysfunctional! I read somewhere, and I apologize because the gentleman's name escapes me right now, the definition of a dysfunctional family.

He said that a dysfunctional family does not know where they are going, what they are about or what they stand for. By the same token a functional family knows where they are going, know what they are about and know what they stand for!

Notice he did not talk about being perfect, rich, and successful or without faults or challenges. Be honest, no one's family is perfect! There are really good families who have big issues. There are really bad families who are supposedly "perfect" and then there are average families like ours. Families who in spite of it all, have managed to produce average, somewhat well adjusted people, who are striving to better themselves!

I never thought that watching a Christmas special about a reindeer would bring such a valuable lesson to my family and me. Then again I guess life's biggest lessons can at times come in the strangest places and formats!

I love that phrase "independent together" and we as a family will continue to use it as our family motto!

I wonder if the writers of that show ever thought that a little line would have such a huge impact on a family's life!

So to Rudolph, the elf and the whole crew from that show lets continue to be "independent together!"