The dictionary defines self reliance as
self-re·li·ance noun reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others.
But can you define self reliance for you? Do you know what it looks like in your life? Do your kids?
teaching kids how to garden
The world we live in calls me a prepper. But in truth, I was raised to be self reliant. My family’s income was very seasonal, and my parents modeled self reliance. My dad built a root cellar. We planted a big garden to supplement our store groceries. In the summer when he was working, we would go to the grocery store and fill 3 or 4 carts with canned food and noodles etc. We bought soap, shampoo,toilet paper, paper towels and toothpaste by the case. We never ran out. In the winter, the only groceries we bought was milk and eggs from the neighbor. We just didn’t go to the store. Usually by April, we were really sick of the same food, and my mom was creating some crazy kinds of dishes, but we were never hungry. My mom bought our Christmas presents in September. Everyone got two presents and their stocking. One present was always socks or underwear.
If we broke something, we had to fix it ourselves. If we ruined something we were in trouble. We learned to repurpose all kinds of things. You learn to use what you have, and that is OK. Now that is called a prepper. To me that’s being a grown up. I learned that little kids are always asking for new shiny things. Grown ups learn to use what they have. By that definition, there are a bunch of 40 year old kids around.
So how has this world gotten so consumed with having new stuff ? I blame it on TV and the internet.
We spend all day watching commercials about the latest greatest thingy. We are totally focused on our desire to have it. If we didn’t see it, we wouldn’t want it. We wouldn’t even know it existed. Most of the time, it is unimportant in the scheme of our lives, yet it consumes our thoughts. When my kids were younger, I wouldn’t walk by the toy aisles in stores. They have a rooms full of stuff, but if they walked by the toys, they would talk for days about all the cool toys they didn’t have. Why torture them or me? I wouldn’t buy them more stuff to poke in that room if I had enough money to buy them 10 toys.
Kids need to learn the difference between needs and wants. A person needs food, water, shelter, heat, and soap. A person wants an IPhone. But we as grown ups have to model that. Whether we have the money to buy it is not the point. Is it a need or a want. You take care of your needs. You help others with their needs. Then you talk about wants. Do you model this for your kids? I don’t always do the best at it. Sometimes, my gimme shows a bit too much. But it has become a priority for me. I want my kids to understand the difference between needs and wants. I want my kids to be ok with not having everything new and shiny. I want my kids to be ok with living with what is available, and sharing what they have.
I hope you join me in modeling self reliance for those around us. If we make it ok to have less stuff around us, and have useful things, instead of gadgets, we will lead our circle of friends to a more sustainable healthier lifestyle. It will also prove far better if a crisis ever did occur. Folks would be able to help each other, not fight over outlets to plug in an IPod.