Parents who attempt to make their children fit their expectations miss out on the chance to see who their children really are. I’m lucky to have had parents who always encouraged me to be whoever I wanted to be. To pursue my own interests. To follow my dreams and to find my heart’s desire. If I ever become a parent, I hope to do the same. Life is a process, and once we give birth to children, we begin that process anew. Our children come from us, but they are also their own people. They are outside of our realm of control. We can guide them as best we can, advise them and encourage them, but we cannot choose for them. Children are individuals with lives outside of us.
On the topic of parenting, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“What a shock! Our children do not always fit into our fantasies. They do not always provide us with the ‘perfect little family.’ They do not always fit in with our schemes and plans. And the worst thing about them is that we simply cannot get them shaped up the way we want them and expect them to stay that way.
When we give birth to a child, we give birth to a process that continues in one form or another for the rest of our lives. Somehow, we seem to have missed the concept that parenting is an intimate interactive process that continues.”
We must love our children for who they are while simultaneously encouraging them to be the very best versions of themselves. Parents must raise decent, kind, considerate people without being overbearing or trying to control the direction of their children’s lives. It’s an impossible job. Pretty much everyone gets it wrong. The important thing though is that we try our best to give our children a good life, to steer them in the right direction, to educate them and raise them well so that when they are out in the world living their own lives, they will make the right decisions.
Children are always growing and evolving. It’s a process entirely outside of ourselves, despite the fact that our children come from us and are indeed a part of us. I can’t imagine how it feels, not being a parent myself. How miraculous to watch a human we put into the world grow and change! Raising children is like tending a garden: We can nourish them as best we can to help them grow, but some of that process is beyond us. We can control the sun, rain, and warmth no more than we can control what happens to our children once they are out in the world. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking, miraculous process.