The parent’s responsibility
“. . . it’s not the child’s responsibility to teach the parent who they are. It’s the parent’s responsibility to learn who the child is . . .”From “R2, Where Are You?” by Tig Notaro in All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown edited by Catherine Burns
Right after we returned from dropping our son at the train station for travel to his final university semester, I sat down to indulge in some morning reading time. That’s when I found the quote above.
Our son is about to finish his studies, but he’s not sure what he wants to do after. As parents, we want to pick him up like when he was a child and set him down in what we think is his safe, right place. But we can’t.
We have to watch and learn as he sorts out what works for him.
Our daughter graduated last June and is still searching for more solid ground under her feet too. As parents, we want to pick her up like when she was a child and set her down on what we think is her safe, right path. But we can’t.
We have to watch and learn as she sorts out what works for her.
After reading the quote I sipped my coffee, stared out the window and contemplated how often parents impose—or try to impose—inappropriate behaviours, activities, careers, clothing or partners on a child because they haven’t learned who their child is.
How often that imposition breaks the relationship.
Telling our kids what to do with their lives feels so much like the right thing to do because we have their best interests at heart, after all, and we want to save them the pain of mistakes.
Sharing the wisdom of our experience is a right thing, but it’s not the best right thing.
The better right thing—our responsibility—is learning who they are.