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The Parenting Rollercoaster


Animated picture of parent walk a stroller

Before our first child popped into the world, we devoured ‘What To Expect When You’re

Expecting’ and reread highlighted passages before our second kid was born, all the time

wondering who these tiny humans would become.


When they were very young, like all parents, we determined what shape their lives took. We decided what food they ate, clothes they wore, schools they attended, and activities they

participated in. They looked to us as all-knowing, and when they asked questions about the

world, they accepted our answers as gospel.


In elementary school, that all transitioned healthily. They became more opinionated about

what they put in their bodies and what they wore on their frames. They voiced preferences

about how to spend their late afternoons and who they wanted to hang out with.


By middle school, we had a full-on rebellion on our hands. At times, they met everything we

said with resistance. What could we possibly teach them they didn’t already know or couldn’t

figure out on their own? Dark unforecasted moods descended on our house, sometimes

lingering long enough for my wife and me to pray for winds of change to blow through our

open windows.


In high school, a slow march toward maturation ensued as they found their groove. One

gravitated to student government and spoke at graduation as senior class president. The other

took to the stage, starring in school plays. Both maintained an air of mystery as we tried to

figure out who these blossoming humans were becoming.


Off to college they went, and we looked around at our empty nest, wondering how that all flew

by so fast, hoping we had prepared them well enough to live out in the world. Now they are

both legal adults, one finishing grad school and the other undergrad. They are grown, not quite

independent, mostly fully formed humans. Yet we are still parents.


We extend unending encouragement and advice they might not like. Other times we stay mum

as they make choices we disagree with, knowing our opinion will not sway them. And

occasionally, they call seeking wisdom we may or may not have to offer. We have transitioned

from confident sages to trusted advisors as they venture onto paths we have not walked.


I looked for a copy of ‘What to Expect When Your Kids Are Grown’ on the local bookstore’s

shelves. It doesn’t exist. So we hang on, hope we did a good enough job setting them up for

their futures, commiserate with them about setbacks, and celebrate their successes, all the

time still wondering who they will become.

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