Writer’s Block: The evolution of parent-child relationships

As co-workers share anecdotes about babies’ firsts and seek advice about parenting their little ones, as one anticipates the birth of her twins and we celebrate another new mom with a baby shower, I’m entering a curious new chapter in the mysterious story of the parent-child connection.

Sue Austreng
Sue Austreng

My babies have become adults. Sure I nursed them, changed them, bathed them and put in my potty training time. There were frolicsome days immersed in play and concentrated hours spent helping with homework. There were chores assigned, tasks declared, discipline delivered. I devoted the days and nights of my children’s childhood years to molding and shaping them to be the admirable adults I yearned for them to become.

And now, sure enough, as a result – and fueled by countless hours of fervent and faithful prayers on their behalf – those babies of mine have grown up to be adults. They have become more than just my cherished offspring. They have become treasured friends, close confidantes and truly among the people I most admire.

My boys grew up to become a U.S. airman and an engineer. My daughter an administrative assistant, a homemaker, a newlywed, a strong and independent woman. Now, a mother-daughter relationship is a delightful thing. Watching her navigate through the winding roads of adulthood, seeing this lovely young woman make a home, partner with her husband and anticipate motherhood brings vivid memories to mind.

My boys – sorry, my young men – pursue similar milestones: making homes of their houses, working hard, establishing and maintaining trusted relationships, perhaps dreaming someday of becoming daddies. But for me to witness my daughter’s journey along life’s way is more like reliving it with her side by side, heart to heart. We are both women, wives and daughters without sisters, and so strong threads connect and bind us differently than the bonds I share with my two sons.

As a result, my daughter and I strengthen that bond, weaving our lives together with a girls’ nights out, a chance to catch up, commiserate over work and family as we share a meal and bond over shared experiences, laugh and cry over past memories and dream along the way.

Of course, I am wont to deliver wise words of guidance and direction during conversations with my daughter about life, love and what’s to come. I have many wants for all of my now-adult children. I wish them the strength to face challenges with confidence and the wisdom to know when to back down. I wish them adventure on the journey and hearts to help those in need. I pray that this life becomes all they’d like it to be, that in it they discover and cherish the treasures fashioned for them by their Heavenly Father.

May their dreams stay big and their worries small. May they stay forever young. That’s right, while all my children have become grown-ups, I do still long for them to stay forever young. There’s joy in that. There’s hope to be had. There’s something magical about preserving that innocence, that spontaneous sense of play, those optimistic childhood curiosities, that simple faith …

My most fervent wish for them is that they would remain forever faithful like a child, that they would “receive the kingdom of God like a little child.” (Luke 18:17). May you stay forever young… Now I’ve got that Bob Dylan song in my head like a perpetual prayer:

“May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true. May you always do for others and let others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. May you stay forever young. May you stay forever young.

“May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young. May you stay forever young.

“May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift. May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift. May your heart always be joyful. May your song always be sung. May you stay forever young. May you stay forever young.”

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