The best parenting analogy I have heard compared having a child to being given a plant. Some plants are more demanding to grow than others. Some are more sensitive to change. Some must be nurtured for many seasons before they will show their flowers and bear their fruit. Others are easy and sunny and thrive on neglect. We create a lot of trouble when we try to force the artichoke plant that shows up to grow the way an oak tree grows. After all, who wouldn’t want to be an oak tree? Well, an artichoke plant, for one. Or it could just accept that he’s supposed to be an oak tree and be one unhappy, messed-up artichoke plant.
That is what is at stake as we parent: will we send a healthy, thriving plant out into the world? Or will we be sending out an artichoke that knows all about how to be an oak tree and nothing about why he should want to be an artichoke. It’s not easy. We sometimes don’t know what sort of plant we’ve been given until something goes wrong. Sometimes we were the ones sent out into the world with no concept of how to be who we are. And gardening is frustrating. You can nurture a plant to perfection only to have a rogue deer show up and eat the buds off. Some plants are just ridiculously difficult to grow.
For me, I think of it this way: My job is to help my child learn to be the person they are made to be while living in this world.