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Talking It Over: Independence comes with responsibility

Independence. We say our toddlers are becoming independent when they test out their first wobbly steps and try new words. Teenagers show their independence by testing the rules and venturing out on their own. As adults, we find our independence by living on our own and making our way in life.

All this independence is great but very scary for those who love us. Parents worry a lot about their children when they are establishing their independence and learning the best way to live their life independently. It is a constant concern and comes with a lot of guidance. Quite often rules need to be set simply for the protection of our children and those around them.

As Americans we celebrate our independence in a lot of ways. We have so many freedoms that we fight for and even take for granted. I have to wonder if our governing fathers are also worried about us as we test our independence and utilize our freedoms. Just as parents have to set rules for our own protection, the government must set rules to keep us from harming ourselves and others.

We may have the freedom of speech but we also have the responsibility to keep that free speech from hurting our country and others.

We have the right to bear arms but that does not give us the right to kill indiscriminately or to threaten others.

We have the freedom of religion but we also have the responsibility to be courteous and understanding of other religions.

I could go on and on about the responsibility that accompanies freedom and independence. Basically freedom is a privilege and should not mean hurting others. It is a gift to be celebrated but not forced.

Let your freedom ring this year but keep it in check. Be responsible while being free. Do not take this gift lightly but instead make it into a way of life that benefits everyone. Take baby steps with freedom and establish a solid ground for your independence.