Children and young people are always growing and changing. Parents, however, sometimes need to take the effort to grow with them. #parenting

A lot of parents seem stuck with their idea of who they want their child to be, or who they remember the child as--often as a literal baby, helpless and dependent, so easy to project the parents' hopes and perceptions on.

I kind of get why parents don't forget their children's very young childhoods, I think? It really is a precious and unforgettable time, when you're bonding with this brand-new being soul to soul as you get to know each other. It's a time of unbearable sweetness that will never come again, because no matter how many children or grandchildren you have that particular child will only be young once. No wonder it leaves an indelible mark in the parent as well as the child.

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A parent's unwillingness to know one's child past their childhood becomes increasingly willful and strains the parent-child relationship, sometimes to breaking point. This is painful for both but in the long run the parent has much more to lose, and the loss of a genuine emotional relationship with the child is likelier to be a deep and abiding regret for the parent than the child.

Again, I think I get why this is. A child growing up and no longer needing the parent like before, and not being the person the parent might have imagined, can be a painful loss of control. The parent must find a new sense of identity, going from someone who was the child's whole world to just a part of it. Many parents undergo this transition gracefully and rejoice in it. Others, sadly, do not.

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@ljwrites I think the parent has more to lose than the child too because most of us don't expect to have our parents with us our whole lives, and some lose their parents to death much sooner than others. To some extent, people who end up estranged from their parents because they're gay or whatever have a experience analogous to people whose parents died young.

But a parent expects to have a child in their life for all the rest of it, and they can feel entitled to that.

@bright_helpings the expression "dead to me" exists for a reason lol. There was a book of advice from older people to young people put together by a sociologist (it's really not as bad as it sounds!) and it specifically mentioned estranged relationships with children, especially for being gay, as an abiding regret of parents that they cautioned others to avoid.

Yet another reason parents have more to lose is that they will grow older and sicker, and their social circles will shrink due to deaths and social isolation. They will often come to need their grown children more than their children need them, and it's such a tragedy if the relationship is no longer there or distant and formal.

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