Michelangelo once said that within every block of marble there is a great sculpture waiting to come out. I say the same about our children. When we receive them in the world, we don’t know what kind of beings they are and what their potential will be.
Nevertheless, we act as Michelangelo, for, inside every parent, there is a sculptor of children. We know there is a great sculpture coming out; we only need to shape our marble block. We do this by teaching our children what we believe is right, by passing onto them our values, by feeding them the foods we think are the best, by providing them with the best possible education, by showing them our religious/spiritual beliefs, by directing them to the best friendships, by encouraging them to pursue hobbies and activities we deem important, and so on.
In sum, we do the best we can with the tools we have available. If anything is lacking, it isn’t because we don’t want to give, but simply because we do not possess the necessary resources to provide them with.
And so, from infancy we start molding the block, partly knowing what kind of sculpture it will be, and partly expecting some surprising features. The truth is that our children are in reality a surprise, and, no matter how much we have provided them with, we truly never know what the ultimate piece of art they will really be.
In any case, as with any living thing, if we feed them right, they grow. Suddenly, our children step out of childhood and become teenagers. According to developmental psychologists, and I like to cite Rudolf Steiner, at age 14 they are truly ready to start detaching themselves from ourselves.
It is the beginning of their parental emancipation. This process is not at all easy, as those who have had teenagers will confirm. Moreover, the more attached a child is to his parent, the more severe this separation will be. It hurts us, parents, but we need to learn to let go because it is now that we re planting the seeds for our future friendship with them. And soon it will happen.
We all have gone through this: here we are, walking in our parenting path when suddenly by age 16 or 17… “Wait a second”! You say. “Where is my child”? You ask. And dumbstruck, you realize that your child is not a child anymore. Your child is now a whole person with their own set of beliefs and values, attitudes, behavior, etc. What is worse, your child is leaving home! My, time flies!
But the greatest thing about losing your child is that your relationship has turned 180 degrees. Suddenly you see yourself discussing politics or philosophy or religion. You read the news and have a conversation about it. You say to each other: have you heard about so and so, did you read about this, what do you think about that, can you believe that, did you know that… and on and on you go and you notice that you are actually exchanging opinions through fantastic pieces of conversation.
Congratulations! This is your aha moment. A moment when you realize that your child has become your friend. Or can become one as soon as you let go of strict parenting and treat them with the same deference you treat any other adult. You will have conquered them with your heart forever.