Airstream Almanac: vol. 5 “What comes after independent?”

Airstream Almanac: vol. 5 “What comes after independent?”

Airstream Almanac: vol. 5 “What comes after independent?”

Living in a travel trailer – which means spending time in RV parks – is different than we thought.

Ok, that’s a lie because it implies we’ve actually thought about what it’d be like spending time in RV parks – and we hadn’t thought about it at all…until we started this adventure.

Our whole adventure started when we began believing in big dreams for families…which meant big dreams for the work I do in my consulting company….which meant Doug would need to start working with me, instead of at his “normal” job because the dreams were bigger than me

…which meant he’d resigned from his “real” job…which meant we didn’t need to renew the lease on our beautiful patio home anymore…which meant we could live anywhere because we can do most of our work anywhere…

…which meant we could buy an Airstream…and travel…and, oh yeah – we’d need a truck to pull this home we’d just bought…and all of this happened in less than two months

…which means we’re spending time in RV parks.

And it’s different.

Just like other neighborhoods – each one is a unique.

Magnolia Forest had a mix of young families with children and retired couples.  I never realized how many people live in RVs – and don’t travel with them.  For many people – they make great homes.

Our current RV park has a good group of retired folks who don’t travel anymore – and a number of actual travelers who come to the tourist town of Fredericksburg, TX on weekends.

So it’s humbling…hanging out with people who once upon a time I would’ve considered old.

And we‘d have to be completely unaware of our surroundings to not start thinking about what it’s like to get older.

I think it’s changed – getting older – in America.  I think it’s changed in my lifetime…even in my children’s lifetime.

I think many parents today have a goal for their children to learn to be independent – so they can move away from home at an appropriate age, and take care of themselves.  

Much of our culture supports this goal.  It’s certainly very often our goal in the lesson cycle at school.  “Independent practice” is the last step, thank you Madeline Hunter.  (Ms. Hunter is an icon in the field of education.)

I think this lesson cycle has been absorbed into our very DNA –

Hunter direct instruction lesson plan elements.” 1) objectives, 2) standards, 3) anticipatory set, 4) teaching, 5) guided practice, 6) closure, 7) independent practice.

This cycle becomes our parenting strategy as soon as our children aren’t sleeping in a baby bed any more.

We teach them how to do something – and then want them to be independent.

We’ve brought other school plans into our homes, too – to reward this sought after independence. Sticker charts.  Ask your grandparents if sticker charts were a part of their childhood?

No, because independent practice wasn’t a part of their childhood.

Our grandparents learned to be independent – for sure.  But that’s were real life started; there’s something after independence – and it’s important.

Before I spend too much time on what may seem like a rabbit trail – here’s my thought:

Never before in our country have we experienced a higher percentage of adult age children living at home – even after college – and our most foundational parenting goal is that our children will be “independent.”

Maybe that’s the problem.

I digress; part of my research – that has launched us on this Airstream with America journey is about this exact topic.

The topic is maturity.

I recently launched a logo design project for the dream we have for a school one day – and I described the school as having a goal of “maturity.”

The designers participating in this contest live all over the world; it didn’t take me long to realize we had a language barrier.

I started getting really bizarre logo designs – totally inappropriate for our vision of a beautiful and inspiring school.

The extremely talented logo designers, around the world, had one reference in their minds for the word “mature” – video games.  And movies.  “For mature audiences only.”

As a culture – we’re losing the idea of maturity.  And I think it’s because we’re aiming for independence.

I’ve learned in my research that we are neurologically, biologically, and spiritually designed to grow through five developmental stages.

In America we have three stages:  dependent (as babies), independent as children…until we return to dependent again – if we live that long and can’t care for ourselves when we’re older.

The five actual stages are:  

  • infant (0-3),
  • child (4-12),
  • adult (13 – the birth of our first child),
  • parent (until our children grow up and leave home), and
  • elder (after our children are grown.)

What is really interesting is what distinguishes these developmental stages – especially the stages of “child” and “adult.”

  • An infant is someone who is learning to trust – and requires others to meet almost all of their needs.
  • A child is someone who is learning to take care of themselves – and ask for help, as needed.
  • An adult is someone who takes care of themselves – and one other person, at the same time.
  • A parent is someone who sacrificially takes care of a family.
  • And, an elder is someone who sacrificially takes care of the community.

Our American goal of independence – is MISSING – from every one of these hardwired developmental stages.

The closest thing to “independent” is the child stage – hardwired to be the ages of 4-12, when we’re learning to take care of ourselves and ask for help.

Every stage requires dependence.  Every stage requires connection and protection in safe and trusted relationships.

So, do you see?  That’s it.

We’re struggling with gross immaturity in America… because we’re aiming for it – by aiming at independence.  And we’re stuck in the child stage – as a country.

Will you agree “Independent practice” is not the last step in a complete lesson cycle – or a thriving life?

We’re created to help each other – because when we help others, we grow up.

Maturity happens in our own lives when we teach others what we know and when we help others in the ways we’ve been helped.

Maturity doesn’t happen in independence.  

Learn more about building mature relationships.

I remember when my daughter was in fifth grade, age 11, 1994.  She babysat for a family with a newborn and an infant; she even traveled with them on vacation.  The parents skied while she took care of the little ones in the condo.

I don’t know too many 11 years olds in 2017 that are mature enough to enjoy that work today.

And there is great hope.

Just because we’ve gotten off course, doesn’t mean we have to stay off course.

For anyone “our age” – btw, we fit in the “elder” category –  the news is encouraging.

America needs us!  

We get to be the ones who sacrificially take care of our communities.  The future is bright for us – because research also show a life of purpose is one vital component of good health – at “our” age!

How we begin?  Oh wow – we can’t wait to hear your ideas about how you begin – please comment and share with us and with others.

Here’s our idea:  One night a week – share real conversation at the table with your family.  Or at the table with people in your community.

Only a few guidelines:  no phones or social media – and no shame.  

We get to be the generation that helps younger generations learn to have conversations again – to listen and enjoy stories.

We get to share stories – and help them begin to see life is good, even when it’s hard.

We get to protect the young ones at our table from shame.  Struggle doesn’t mean there’s something uniquely wrong with you; struggle just means you’re growing up.

Share a story about your struggles – and about who helped you grow up.

Remind as many people as often as you can – life is not about independence.

Life is about helping each other.  Relationships draw rich strength from each other – and then give it away – and then rest and restore…and repeat the cycle.

You may be wondering about the pictures included with this edition of Airstream AlmanacNow, I get to share my story.

I lived a season of my life in Fredericksburg, TX – before I met Doug.  It was a very rich season – and one of the hardest seasons of my life.

Fredericksburg is where I began to learn the lie of independence – because I needed friends.  

A wise and loving couple – just about 10-20 years older than myself – often invited me to dinner.  

He was an elder at the church – and he’d take me to lunch – just to check on me.  This makes more sense when you know he was also the chairman of the Board at the school where I served as Head of School.

Several times during this hard season – I’d stay in the little cabin next to their house.  It was a safe and quiet place to wrestle and linger and heal – and mature.

This trip to Fredericksburg – now almost 10 years later – Doug and I drove around and experimented with about 10 different settings to video our online class – about strengthening families.

We wanted a warm and welcoming place – a nostalgic place that seems to invite participants to wrestle and linger and heal – and mature.

We found the perfect setting for our videos.  The porch of the old cabin – on the property of our friends.

Life is about helping each other.  Relationships draw rich strength from each other – and then give it away – and then rest and restore…and repeat the cycle.

Maturity happens.  There is great hope.

Learn more about building mature relationships.