Americans value independence

You read that in all of the parenting books. At least the AP ones. Why do most American parents put their babies alone in their bedrooms at night, why do we get swings and baby seats and stuff to help our babies need us less? Because we value independence, or so the common knowledge goes.

I don’t think that’s true.

How many Americans do you know who really, truly value independence?

I started mulling this over during last week’s episode of The Colony. The colonists figured out a way to make a morse code sender/receiver (because they have the most insanely skilled group of people) and their message, which they send daily, is “looking for government to help us.” That has just rubbed me entirely the wrong way.

Then, I was finishing up last month’s web version of Mothering (thanks Abby!!) and an article about Mongolia and breastfeeding – it mentioned that, you know, Americans are all about independence in their children, but Mongolians continue to breastfeed for years and years and years, but the average Mongolian child is far more independent than the average American child. And Mongolians, from what I know, don’t place a high value on independence like Americans supposedly do.

So these two things got me thinking. So, so many Americans are so dependent on their government these days. A government that, really, is doing far, far more than it was originally intended to do. Any time we have a problem, one of the first places we, as a society, go for a solution is the government.

But at the same time, we still generally admire those who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, as the saying goes. Most of us aren’t willing to actually do that ourselves, but we do look up to those who do. Our movies still honor the strong, independent heroes, for the most part.

But in our own, real lives…I don’t think we value independence as much as we like to think we do.

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