Parenting as a role is part of an identity and as so, it becomes important as a part of who I am. Am I a good parent? How do I know? What do I constantly have to do to re-affirm my good parenting? Am I doing my part in this role and how does this role affirm who I am? My role is to know what is best for my child and make sure they get it. My role continues with my adult children, who need mothering.
Parenting as a function is doing the work of a parent. I like to say it is loosening here, tightening here, training here, encouraging and comforting over here. If it is a function, and not tied to my identity, parenting becomes a flexible response to what is needed instead of doing what someone expects. It leaves space and room for authentic relationship between the parent and child.
The relationship a parent has with a child, should always be one of honor. Children are to honor their parents, yet parents also should honor their children, recognizing the child’s right to choose. I teach my child to make choices and then trust that she will learn, just as I have, to make generally good decisions with some mistakes. My identity is neither tied up in sorting out what she should do, nor in telling her what to do. I honor the relationship, by noticing that she is a whole, complete and working human being.
For more on the topic of the parent role, check out, Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth.