They are so like you. So like their mother. They have the same affect. They have the same bad habits. The same hopes, the same fears you did when you were their age. This helps you be patient with them, helps you connect with them, helps you get them what they need.
Or so you think.
There’s the great line in the Yusef / Cat Stevens’ song, where the son sings of his father but really of all older people, “It’s them they know not me.” Every generation condescends. Every parent projects, purports to grasp something that the young person is still developing and figuring out from scratch, something inherently ungraspable. Every person is unique and new and their own–none more so than our kids. Our own experiences, our own work can give us a glimpse into other people but we have to accept the limitations of that knowledge. We have to be humble and deferential as a matter of course.
If we want to be an understanding parent, we’re going to have to understand there’s some things we’re never going to fully understand. We’re going to have to listen, we’re going to have to trust. We’re going to have to let them do things we don’t get, go in directions we’re unsure of. We’re going to have to let them be themselves, going to have to let them get to know themselves.