An emotional sea change, or perhaps, more accurately, a tsunami, of unpredictable lifestyle and a vitally needed reset of perspective, are the immediate concerns, upon learning that one is about to become a father; and, perforce, legally and societally, a parent, of another human being. The initial feelings of happiness and disbelief, at the birth of the first child, however, (at least of disbelief) are soon dissipated, following a few successive nights of sleep deprivation. The evident necessity of the acceptance of new responsibilities, soon displaces incredulity, as intense love develops, and grows, for the cute, helpless, and totally dependent new little earthling.
There is a noticeable sea change, as well, in the parent’s marital relationship. The primary and overriding dependency of the newborn, soon transfigures the mutually routine and elective activities of a young husband and wife, to a (loving) preoccupation with the health and comfort of the newborn child. Life becomes busier and quite tiring, because of the constancy of attendance upon the child, and the empirical absence of respite. Care, regarding later children, is considerably easier and less stressful, due to the recently acquired experience.
The child’s gradual development toward maturity, is customarily accompanied by occasional phenomena, such as moodiness, behavioral episodes and changes in temperament, which will, at times tax the parents’ capabilities. Additionally, there are the inevitable, and worrisome childhood illnesses to deal with. Loving one’s children is a special blessing but is, unquestionably, hard work.
As the child attains school age, the need for early nurturance evolves to a need for parental guidance. The child has become less vulnerable physically, but now, ethical and moral choices become relevant, as the child is challenged by newly experienced adolescent feelings and emotions. Guidance needs to be gently delivered, with empathetic regard to the child’s new emotionally vulnerable, and somewhat self -conscious, stage of development.
At the same time, it seems, resemblances to parents or relatives, are arguably, perceived. In some families, there is a “family face,” which seems to be generationally repetitive. As an applicable aside, and as a matter of fairness, one should avoid the irrational inclination, to project traits of personality of a similar looking, older relative, upon the youngster, who blamelessly shares similar physiognomy.
Parental relationships with the adult child, continue to aspire to mature and objective societal behavior, but are still spiced with the flavor of the remembered past. Parents should be unselfishly aware that their children now, have the desire to be recognized as adults, and that, at an appropriate time, will deliver to them the cue for the reenactment of desired past childish interaction. In addition to basic assumptions of continued love, the developing child wants, as a part of his assertion of independent persona, at least a modicum of recognition of maturity and capability.
When the child is old enough to leave home for college, his emotional adjustment, to living on his own will, predictably, be quicker and easier, than the period of the parents’ feelings of “empty nest” or lonesomeness. Parents now need to adjust to the child’s new assertions of independence and freedom from their nurturance.
After the last child moves out, the parents experience the dynamics of readjustment to a style of life, as possible, which existed prior to the birth of children. But, the parents are older now, and the degree of difficulty of adjustment will depend upon the depth of their personal relationship and their respective personal resources. In the easiest of cases, this new re- adjustment remains a significant one. Communication, and visits with the children are greatly prized, as parents begin to eventually take pride in the self-dependence of their children.
The parent will learn, at some point in time, that the child, or the children, respectfully, desire(s) to marry and, as traditional, set up independent households, in which they intend to live, and as possible, raise children. The wheel of life has now, fully revolved on its immutably predictable orbit, and life eternally proceeds in its bizarrely similar fashion, to replicate itself.
The sharp feelings of loss of opportunity to nurture their (now independent, mature) children, is more than compensated, in relatively short time, by the miraculous appearance of those children’s babies. There are no descriptive adjectives in the English-American lexicon, adequate to describe the degree of pleasure in having grandchildren. If parenting had been hard work, the birth of grandchildren affords more than adequate compensation; in fact, grandchildren are Nature’s generous remuneration to mankind, for growing old.