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From Children to Friends

Chip Hill


Your children grow up, yes they do. You're aware of that of course, except maybe you haven't given it much thought. You have been too busy having parent-child relationships. And then one day maybe they're off to college, or in an apartment, or married… and it hits you. They're gone. Not literally, but something has forever changed. It's hard to put a finger on. They're a different person now, and will never be your child again in the same way they used to be. It's hard to explain that feeling, that realization.

You see, the feeling comes with a little angst, maybe a little regret over something that's lost and can't be recaptured. Did you do your best as a parent? Did you spend enough time, do key things, show enough love? I'm thinking of the Harry Chapin song, “Cat's in the Cradle,” where the son grows up to be just like his old man by not giving enough time to their relationship. You may not feel like that, but no doubt there are still some fleeting echoes.

Hopefully, those echoes pass, and you have a new relationship to figure out. You have a friend now, so what does that mean, how do friends act? Well, the parenting gene won't completely go away, and you may find yourself providing the same kind of advice you always did. But your friend is more of a peer now, and you may just as often find yourself withholding that advice. It's probably best to build this new friendship the old-fashioned way, i.e., listen to figure out likes and dislikes, take comfortable-sized steps when trying new things, have your friend's best interest in mind when planning interactions, and work toward the goal of drawing the relationship ever closer. And remind yourself that you're starting with a huge advantage: you already have many fond relationship memories to build on.

Yes, that person was your child, okay, is you child, but he/she has grown up. And how blessed you are to be able to welcome a new friend!  So, how is that friendship coming along?