There are many important milestones in parents’ lives with their children. It starts when the couple discovers that the wife is pregnant and continues with the birth of the child. There are the noteworthy events of the first smile, the first word, the first step, and many others including a first car and a first job. Some firsts are easier on the father than on the mother, and vice versa. What is universal is the tension that arises when the parents view their children as youngsters, when they are young men and young women.
This was driven home to me three years ago when my “baby” was fourteen years old. From the outside she was anything but a baby, since she measured at least 5’9” in stature. Nonetheless, she was still my youngest, my “baby.” Then, my son and daughter-in-law presented us with a “for real” baby in the person of my grandson. Witnessing my daughter hold her nephew for the first time changed my image of her radically.
Older children often feel as though their parents “baby” them. They recognize that they still have much to learn, but they wish they could alter the perception their parents have of them.
An effective way to bridge this transition is for parents and children to get involved in a collaborative effort. By taking on a joint project, they learn to see each other as associates rather than parent and child. Having the opportunity to see each other work under the pressure of deadlines, deal with unexpected outcomes, or share success, make each recognize the others’ strengths and weaknesses. Each learns how to be gracious with each other as their relationship matures.
Currently my daughter and I are working on a graduation project because she will complete high school next spring. This project has taken planning and vision. We have had to work together to schedule, determine production costs, select materials etc. In the process, I have discovered that many of her ideas and skills are superior to mine. She has found out that her mother has talents and abilities that she does not. We make a good team.
Long after our children establish themselves with their own families and callings, these kinds of activities allow for a smooth transition into the adult-to-adult relationship that many children desire with their parents. For me, one of the best “payoffs” to homeschooling is having children I can go to to help me think through personal problems and concerns because I have established a mature relationship with them, and know the foundations on which they were raised.