“Independent means being free, or more precisely, being internally free,” says Simon Soloveychik in his book Parenting For Everyone. By freedom people assume freedom of choices. Internal freedom assumes full responsibility for those choices. Therefore a free man is a completely responsible man. How do irresponsible children grow up to be responsible people?
Apparently, “freedom of a man is determined by the source of punishment for his mistakes” (S.Soloveychik). If we punish children for their wrong choices we take responsibility ourselves. We are being responsible, not the children. When we scold, blame, shame, or rebuke a child for his or her mistakes we punish the child. The source of punishment comes from us, from outside the child. So, the child doesn’t learn responsibility. All the child learns is that we don’t love him or her and that he or she is supposed to be guilty. Therefore, children grow not free, afraid of people, afraid of life, and they are afraid of freedom. Only when the source of punishment comes from inside the child (internally), when the child feels hurt from doing wrong, he learns responsibility. Only then he becomes internally free.
Why does it need to be so complicated? Why do we even talk about responsibility? Sometimes it is more convenient to raise a child who is obedient and controllable. Let’s admit it: sometimes we don’t want our children to be free! But do we want our children to be happy? In the movie Pursuit of Happiness the main character, Chris Gardner portrayed by Will Smith, represents a free man. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t blame, he is fully responsible, and he feels equal to other people. He is in search of solutions, in pursuit of his happiness. Will Smith’s character calls for our admiration. Do we want our children to grow up to be people who are worth admiring? Then we need to learn how to raise them to be internally free.