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Thread: The levels of dependency

  1. #1
    Homo siderius Sistamatic's Avatar
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    The levels of dependency

    At birth we are dependent, utterly. As children, the trend continues. If you need a coat, someone buys it for you. If the roof leaks, someone else takes care of that. Other people put out your fires.

    As we become teenagers, if our parents are lucky, we have begun the transition to independent. Independent is defined loosely as not needing to call someone every time something happens because you can deal with it yourself. You put out your own fires.

    At some point after we become independent, we start getting good at things, amassing resources and knowledge, and most importantly, experience. Without realizing it, we slip from independent to depended upon. This is when life gets hard. You look back at how put upon you felt during the earlier phases and realize what a selfish bastard you were. All your time and resources are spent dealing with other people's shit to the point that you can barely maintain your own independence. The people using your time and resources never say thank you. Every time there is a fire, people call you to come put it out.

    The people depending on you finally get a life. Independent again...only this time you aren't too stupid to appreciate it. Plus, by some miracle, the dependents left you with enough to survive on. You retire, and work no longer depends on you. You have time. There are no more fires because you aren't an idiot who starts them any more. This is the phase you want to maximize, because what comes next ain't pretty.

    The wearing depends phase. You've fallen and you can't get up, and you can't cook without starting a fire.

  2. #2
    Pan_Sonic_000
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    It helps us grow. The lessons I've been taught by life wherein I become less selfish and more admitting of my need for others were some of the hardest - but also the most rewarding.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Heh, my son is only 5, but somehow one thing I've apparently taught him extensively without quite doing it consciously is the importance of social etiquette. He says "please" and "thank you" just about every time he asks anyone for anything, including me, so in fact I'm presently rather flush with appreciation from my one principal dependent for the things I do for him.

    I'm very aware I should expect this to change during adolescence. I'm prepared for that. It doesn't really bother me, as seeing him healthy and happy is the real motivation for what I do, not hearing that he appreciates it or being "compensated" somehow. (Although as I'm starting to be regularly reminded by my own parents, the payback does come when the parent reaches a point where they can't be fully independent anymore--I'm trying to prepare for that, too.)

    A lot of people teach their kids to be perniciously ungrateful little shits. This may not be what you're talking about, but it's something I regard as a prevalent shortcoming of parenting styles, one I think can be avoided and which I intend to avoid to the best of my ability.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    I've found myself basically being in charge of a borderline person for the past 7 years. She is a younger sibling who is certainly old enough to be on her own, but I know that if I don't take this responsibility, she's only going to give my parents headaches, and they're getting old/sick. I feel like I'm in a situation that I haven't chosen, and I have often resented that, but when it comes to family I guess I agree with the status quo - you don't get to opt out.

    It's been incredibly frustrating because she has at times been suicidal, and I don't know how to talk to someone like that. I'm the least appropriate person for the job, but I happen to have it. This is like the worst part of parenthood - teenage years, I assume - prolonged indefinitely over time. It has its ups and downs. When it's bad, I can't work at home, sleep at night, or barely have a functioning relationship. I'm also emotionally and psychologically worn out. When it's good, she's my friend. One of my best friends. I try to remember that when things become periodically fucked.

    At the same time I think I've sort of steeled myself for worst case scenarios. I don't know, maybe that's a lie, and I haven't steeled myself at all. But nowadays when I suspect she's doing something dangerous, I take a deep breath and tell myself there is only so much someone can do to stop somebody from being a threat to themselves. I can't save anybody. I can give them a place to be okay, or at least better. In some way I guess I have already succeeded by offering that space and restricting the extension of the problem.

    I don't know what other valuable thing I'm really on this earth to do. It's not like I have some great dream I'm not fulfilling because of this. I never really imagined my life in the long term, or what it would be like to live for myself. Maybe this is it, this is my collaboration.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    Homo siderius Sistamatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    Heh, my son is only 5, but somehow one thing I've apparently taught him extensively without quite doing it consciously is the importance of social etiquette. He says "please" and "thank you" just about every time he asks anyone for anything, including me, so in fact I'm presently rather flush with appreciation from my one principal dependent for the things I do for him.

    I'm very aware I should expect this to change during adolescence. I'm prepared for that. It doesn't really bother me, as seeing him healthy and happy is the real motivation for what I do, not hearing that he appreciates it or being "compensated" somehow. (Although as I'm starting to be regularly reminded by my own parents, the payback does come when the parent reaches a point where they can't be fully independent anymore--I'm trying to prepare for that, too.)

    A lot of people teach their kids to be perniciously ungrateful little shits. This may not be what you're talking about, but it's something I regard as a prevalent shortcoming of parenting styles, one I think can be avoided and which I intend to avoid to the best of my ability.
    My dependence progression is probably colored quite a bit by what I've been doing for a living for the last 8 years....teaching freshman biology at a community college. The hardest thing to get through their heads is that it is that I'm not going to spend an hour of my time fixing it every time one of them forgets an assignment or spaces on something. I am up front with them. In fact, I tell them, "If you fail to flap your wings, I will let you fall." I get higher success rates if I get that message through their heads right up front.

    Every once in a while, I get a helicopter parent calling me about their college student kid. I'm embarrassed for them. They get so mad when I won't discuss any aspect of their kid's grades or attendance or performance with them. It's confidential, no matter who is paying for it.


    I'm not a parent, so I can't really say what I'd do, but I've always joked that I'd start with 18 candles and take one off every year. As the supply dwindled, I'd say, "Dang, you better start getting some skills. You are running out of time." I wouldn't really do that....probably.

    I should point out that I failed out of college the first time I went. My parents kept paying all my bills, kept paying for the next quarter tuition, and I kept on fucking up. I had great intentions but I got side-tracked by a self destructive binge of epic proportions. My little brother, Stigmatica, had to join the army because of me and all the money I wasted. Real fucking consequences. I stole his free ride to college and squandered it. Of course I didn't think of it that way, but that's what I did.
    Last edited by Sistamatic; 02-01-2014 at 11:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sistamatic View Post
    Every once in a while, I get a helicopter parent calling me about their college student kid. I'm embarrassed for them. They get so mad when I won't discuss any aspect of their kid's grades or attendance or performance with them. It's confidential, no matter who is paying for it.
    I'm a parent, my kids are well, and I just don't get these helicopter types. There's no better way to screw up a kid's life. Narcissism? Maybe, but they should let their kids rise or fall on their own, otherwise they'll never grow up and learn how to live in the real world. Kid's do best with a healthy dose of benign neglect. That is, parents should butt out of their kids' lives.

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thevenin View Post
    That is, parents should butt out of their kids' lives.
    Eh, in my experience the reason this is often not the case, ignoring the pathological child-centredness of much of modern Western civilisation, more generally this is because many people see children as an outlet to live a life they were never able to have because of their background, either educationally, professionally or socially.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  8. #8
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sistamatic View Post
    I should point out that I failed out of college the first time I went. My parents kept paying all my bills, kept paying for the next quarter tuition, and I kept on fucking up. I had great intentions but I got side-tracked by a self destructive binge of epic proportions. My little brother, Stigmatica, had to join the army because of me and all the money I wasted. Real fucking consequences. I stole his free ride to college and squandered it. Of course I didn't think of it that way, but that's what I did.
    My oldest son told me last time we met that he thought everyone should take a year off after high school and work in the real world first doing something useful. Seems like a reasonable idea.

    The next two are going next fall (hopefully). Will they fail? They're both plenty smart enough, but they've got to make the connection between the present and the future. I don't care if they are wealthy or famous or powerful, I do care if they are self-reliant and ultimately able to have others rely on them and happy.

    I've wondered if a large part of kid's education should be putting them in situation where they have to do adult or semi-adult things such as work on an small farm, survive in the wilderness, run a little business (for real, not a simulation), repair things and cook things etc. I think they could do things like this a third of the year and still have plenty of time to learn in a more traditional manner.

    Yea, I know parents can sort of do this - and the smartest parents do it, but the rest of us are only human.

  9. #9
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    The key mistake I've seen parents making (in 2011-12 I taught at an "alternative high school" for dropouts/expellees) is not so much doing too many things for their children as not teaching the life skills involved in actually being independent. The desire to be independent should happen instinctively in adolescence--the kid just needs enough real self-esteem (which comes from accomplishment, not external ego-stroking) and the requisite tool kit to go make it happen.

    I saw a lot of parents who had clearly been checked out from much of the parenting work since their kids were fairly young suddenly trying to turn around and go "well my kid's 18 now, not my responsibility anymore, s/he's on his/her own." If this is fractious and nerve-wracking because you or your child lack confidence in their ability to be self-managing and self-supporting, you probably fucked up a while ago and 'tough love' is not going to fix the problem that late in the game. It should happen pretty smoothly if you did everything right, because honestly, who the hell would want to be living with their parents at age 19 or 20 if they thought they had other feasible options?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    First thought:

    Tues w/ Morrie.

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