Nouwen on Children

This just came in my e-mail from the Henri Nouwen Society.  It seems to fit what has happened between me and my children.  They are my friends.  In many ways they have become my equals and yet are still, and always will be, my children.

Becoming Friends of Our Children

Can fathers and mothers become friends of their children? Many children leave their parents to find freedom and independence and return to them only occasionally. When they return they often feel like children again and therefore do not want to stay long. Many parents worry about children’s well-being after they have left home. When their children visit they want to be caring parents again.

But a mother can also become the daughter of her daughter and a father the son of his son. A mother can become the daughter of her son and a father the son of his daughter. Father and mother become brother and sister of their own children, and they all can become friends. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen it is as beautiful to watch as the dawn of a new day.


Filed under Family, Quotes

6 responses to “Nouwen on Children

  1. And when we get old we need to become almost like the children of our children.

    I had my mother sobbing unconsollably on my shoulder last night. I wish I could spare her the indignity and weakness of old age and ill health, but I cannot.

  2. linealanoie

    Maybe if somehow she could understand how much you are learning from what seems to her weakness and loss of dignity. I think these times teach us more about love and care than we know at the moment. Being with my dad did that to me, being part of my aunt’s declining years is still shaping me.

    These are still hard times for them and for us. May God be close to both of you these days.

  3. Linea, thanks, but I really don’t think I’m learning anything that I’ve not been taught several times before in various sets of circumstances. Sure it’s shaping me, but so is each dinner I eat.

    But I do appreciate the way you tried to draw something good from this, for your prayers and that you care about us too. As you say, may God be close to you as well through these times.

  4. Linea

    I hope that I didn’t sound as if I was simply offering trite platitudes. I don’t know that I was trying to draw something good from it either – although I believe that good can eventually come from any experience.

    Maybe the shaping is indeed similar to how our daily meals shape us.

    Partly what I was saying is that it would be nice if our aging parents knew the good that we learn from our care for them. It might make the process more dignified. But of course they won’t be able to see this during the process, and maybe we can’t either.

  5. I didn’t take you as being trite. I wonder more if it’s about getting me in a place of weakness (from my angle – that’s NOT what it’s about from her angle) so that I can be exposed and vulnerable. Somehow I don’t see the ‘good’ it’s doing as being being helpful to her – if that were me I’d be somewhat insensed by the idea!

  6. linealanoie

    Toni, my perception is of course made from my own perspective, knowing that I learned things from walking through my dad’s illness with him. Of course he had no idea.

    In any case it seems as if the last part of life can be extremely difficult for all involved.