Faced with a mountain of concerns that dropped in on me in rapid succession this month, I didn’t think I had energy left to ‘battle’ another one much less that which isn’t even mine. But looking at the young person beside me – gaunt, furrowed brows, and eyes seemingly lost in space – my earlier resolve not to get involved melted away easily like snow in the sun.
Sitting side by side on the front steps of my home, I wondered what went on inside this handsome young person’s head and whatever was brewing in his twenty-something heart. “Okay, spill it. Apparently your dad’s on a trip again.” I started. (His mom who passed away two years ago was my best friend in high school) He blurted out voice almost cracking “What’s with Dad?! He wants me to move on to Harvard for law studies. He can’t seem to understand that I need to do these things my way!”
Oh boy, I’ve heard this before. Not a few of my friends’ children utter this ‘famous’ lines in their homes. I guess one of my girls said that too about their dad. Ugh! And always I hear of parents in turn charting a course for their sons and daughters unmindful of what it does to their children. There are many sides that can be gleaned in this situation and maybe strong points to win an argument over to the parent’s side. I won’t cut through that though, because I’m a parent too and those things do take favor in my heart…. after all every parent only wants the best for his children – to make things easy for them. So we see many parents, with able funds presumably, lay out plans on a ‘blueprint’ charting a course through a dozen things, i.e. What course to take in college, which university to go to, which boarding school to stay in, a new wardrobe, allowance and school fees, mobility and communications, good neighborhood, and even where to spend the holidays. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And all that a son or daughter has to do is to – live it and, as parents hope they would, like it too. But for all our good intentions as parents, we can’t always expect this to fill or satisfy their own desires, wants, and needs. You may share the same dreams but you would positively differ on ways and means.
I would like to look at this from the standpoint of ‘growth’ --- a person’s need to grow. Give this a thought. Do you really think that paving the way for them or removing obstacles on their life journey or packing-in comfort and ease in their backpacks would eventually turn them into better persons? What they learn in school is only half of what life is all about. Life offers so much for us to learn and some of these can’t be learned inside the classroom. We can’t simply wait till graduation is over to learn them. One can’t merely keep opportunities at bay till school is over and done with because each waking day of our lives provide us that precious opportunity. Every difficulty-struggle-challenge-hurdle and every pain-disappointment-sorrow-sadness-loss and every joy-winning-achievement-success-pleasure ----every bit of these experiences that seep through our days –all these make up the backpack of tools that help mold and shape a person to grow, develop, and mature into his fullest potential and worth. This is what life is truly all about.
Well, undeniably our children can’t hope to do this by simply cruising down a well-paved highway (arranged by us)…..but rather on trekking down a worn and beaten path in weather-beaten walking shoes (of their own choosing). If they decide to do just that, by all means – let them! Just be there when they need you. You could probably slip-in a pound of prayer into their pack, give them a big warm hug, and gently shove them on their way with a smile --- on your face and in your heart!
About my friend's son, the last time I heard of him - he was off to Canada working his way to school hoping to be an engineer someday. His father, although it took him longer than it should, had learned to cope with his disappointment and slowly appreciated his son’s independent streak. All’s well that ends well, it seems. :-)
posted on Sunday, July 30, 2006 12:25 PM