My oldest son just went back to college, and I have been thinking about how our relationship has changed through the years.
1. Body to Body – as an infant I held him in my arms and would snuggle to feel his love. Even as a little boy I would wrestle with him to express my love. Touch was big in those first few years.
2. Standing Over Him – as he grew I came to stand over him to offer guidance and direction. My word was law. He looked to me for answers without asking questions in return.
3. On the Sidelines – Eventually, I became a life coach for him. He was the one out there in the world, and I offered him instructions from the sideline. He could choose to listen or ask questions. He was experiencing life and learning, and all I could do was watch, instruct and pray for the best.
4. Face to Face – There came a time when I had to sit down and ask him questions man to man. What did he want to study? Where did he want to go to college? What direction was he going to steer his own life? Meals together with serious discussion while preparing him for the future.
5. Shoulder to Shoulder – This past year he has turned into a man. He is not just my son he is a man like I am. We now enjoy events together. He does not need my instruction or coaching every day. He can handle his own life. In fact, sometimes I have questions for him. We are now friends who will live life side by side.
I should admit, I have only made it 19 years into this journey, and I don’t know how my roles will change in the future. Maybe you can shed some light on it for me if you are further down this path of parenthood.
For me, this is how my relationship with my son has changed. I also see his brothers walking down the same roads. I think these are necessary steps for us to remember as parents. Most of us want to cling to the old familiar ways. We want our children to have the innocence and dependence on us that they had when they were younger.
Unfortunately, that is not the end goal for a parent. The goal of parenting is to develop children who will one day stand beside us and not really need us like they once did. We are slowly working ourselves out of a job. It is a tough but wonderful truth.