Right now, my twenty-two month old is just starting to grasp the notion of independence. Ever since he started walking at 14 months (yes, he was a late bloomer in that area), he’s been testing the limits to see how far he can go from his mom and dad’s reach. When his mind is made up to do something and we prevent him, he struggles with us. He either pulls or tugs to get out of our reach or he goes into a full blown tantrum with head hitting the floor, feet kicking, and lungs screeching.

In his little world, Mom and Dad are the people who love him most, but we’re also the tyrants—the ones that keep him from being able to experience full fledged freedom. His little mind is incapable of rationalizing why Mom and Dad set rules and boundaries. Why can’t I jump on the couch? Why can’t I run in the road? Why can’t I play with this toy that I found on the beach?

Independence, obviously for us, has a different meaning. As a kid and a teenager, I never understood the importance of the concept. After all, I was born in a country and in a family situation where I could get an education, go to college, pursue a career of my choice, marry a person that I love, and have a family of my own to provide for, love, and nurture. I was raised with these values/principles and assumed everyone had them.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized these “inalienable rights” weren’t everyone’s reality. I slowly learned that even United States citizens didn’t always live the same reality that I did.

“What do you mean you can’t marry someone unless they are Indian?” I asked my best friend.

“My family wants me to marry someone from my own race, religion, and culture,” she answered. “If I disobey their wishes, they’ll be highly disappointed in me, and I will have disgraced the family.”

“But I thought you said that you didn’t like Indian men?”

“Well, I’m not that attracted to them, but my family has arranged a few dates for me, and well, you never know. Maybe I’ll find someone that I like.”

I had other friends or knew of other people (mostly women) who were discouraged from going to college or pursuing their dream career. They, too, were born and raised in the United States, but their families grew up in cultures where women were not encouraged to be independent or to do things for themselves. I was shocked.

Today I hold my “inalienable rights” that I grew up with to be dear and sacred to my heart. I feel blessed and lucky to have been given the opportunity to go to college, to pursue a career of my choice, to marry someone I love, and to start a family of my own. I was never told what to do or discouraged from doing something because it would bring shame to my family. I was never sent to jail or threatened to be killed (as some people are in other countries) because I chose to pursue my dreams or worship a different God.

Instead, I have freedom. I have opportunity. I have the ability to pursue my dreams. In essence, I have the ability to create the kind of life that I want for myself—I can choose my own destiny.

My son doesn’t understand this type of independence just yet. He won’t for a while. Right now his freedom will be limited until he’s old enough to make safe, mature, responsible choices on his own. Even when he’s reached this magic age, I hope he will still consider consulting his older and wiser mom and dad for advice, but ultimately, his life will then become his own journey to lead. He will have his own opportunities, his own chances, his own dreams, and his own destiny. At that point, I hope he will understand what it means to be independent, the same way we do today. Because for so many, it’s not an “inalienable right” as it should be, it’s a privilege we’ve been afforded by living in a country and being born to a family that understands its value.


  1. I love this post. I my independence, my freedoms, and my country, but it is so easy to forget to appreciate all these things we enjoy! Happy 4th!

  2. I love this! It's amazing how much we take for granted.. and you're exactly right.. even other people living in America don't necessarily have the same freedoms as the rest of us. Even the freedom to live a happy life.. to be safe.. and to have a comfy place to lay your head at night. I am so thankful for everything I have.. and all that I can offer to my children!

  3. Fantastic post! I think one of the coolest things about being a mom is being able to watch your kids grow and learn independence. It's a beatiful, frustrating,sllllooooowww process, but really amazing to see.

    You explained independence wonderfully!

  4. Beautiful post! It's so easy to lose sight of all we have in this world of plenty. Thank you for the reminder of how lucky we are to be free.


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