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How well do our parents know us?
I just had a conversation with an exceptionally wise 16 year old. In response to a question I asked she said that her mother (who is raising her and her three siblings as a single mother) did not 'really' know her. That is, she added, she knows her through her transformation in time, from baby to toddler all the way to adolescent. But she does not know her apart from that change. It is true, I said to her, that if asked to describe me, my mother will not be able to choose the ten right adjectives - many would appear shallow or even off. On the other hand she does have some intuitive knowledge of me - which I cannot quite define, but has to do with an 'essence', that which does not change over time - which is probably deeper than anybody else's. Now, the 16 year old was not willing to concede that a parent actually does have a knowledge of that which does-not-change, or that breast-feeding and nourishing is related to that. But from my 30+ perspective I think it does.So what is the nature of a parent's knowledge of their child?
It's very funny, I remember that feeling. I don't feel it anymore but I can call it up, I can hear myself saying it... I think part of it has to to with the immensity of what one feels ahead of oneself at that age; for someone to know one in the sense of being able to describe one "correctly" would in some ways circumscribe the possibilities. The parent would try to describe who the child is and the child would try to describe what she wants, who she will become, which is of course indescribable.

We're also very much like ostriches I think, in a certain way, sure that because we have no memory of being four that no one else really has a meaningful memory of us at that age either.

By the way, it might be interesting to ask your friend to write down a list of adjectives -- perhaps in a sealed envelope, for her future self?
What an interesting question. I think this is related to Molly's very nice post, in the context of religious conversion, where she writes

"One of the most interesting (in my opinion) traditions in mystic thought maintains that God created the world in order to reveal himself. What does this mean? That we too experience ourselves as having an immense, inarticulate power inside of us, inaccessible to others, and for the most part mute. That we are driven to act, to speak, to create art and, more basically, to create ourselves and our own lives, out of a need to reveal who we are, to record our presence."

Echoing also what Imogen said, I think when you're a teenager, especially, the boundary between who you are empirically (that is, the way you appear to be) and who you feel yourself to be is blurred in an interesting way. You are sure that if people could just understand you then they would see the great uncreated works already inside you, and in some sense save you the trouble and the travail of articulating them. Or at least they would give you the benefit of the doubt and encourage you in your artistic endeavors, sure of the eventual masterpiece.

It is indeed a very curious thing to begin to realize that the issue of whether or not people understand is not the important one; that no one, not even you, can exactly see your own possibility, nor does it exactly exist until you find a way to make it manifest. That time also plays its part in bringing things to light, and there is a lot of work to be done in living and in revealing what one feels oneself to be.

Of course, you still need people to love you unconditionally. But the unconditionality is the point; it's not contingent on anything, not even having seen the embryonic greatness lying curled up inside of you. After all -- how can they, or you, know your own greatness any more than a mother might know her own child?
What do parents knows about their children?  What does anyone know about another person?
This is a tough question and for sure there is more than one answer. Each person has their own sensitivity and understanding of his surrounding and of the people they know including their parents and their children

I think most parents know the basic qualities and character of their children. Are they honest, liars, kind or mean, friendly or lonely, sincere, steady, or a flake, independent or not, changing their mind easily or having a strong opinion. Do they rely on themselves or on others? Are they strong or are they weak and so on. I think these qualities are basic and remain with most children for life, so there is no difference if they are young or adults.

Through the years the child’s knowledge changes and with it the needs of the child for the help of the parents by changing environment by geographical distance, knowledge level, points of interest and a way of life.

When the children are young and depends on the parent, the parent probably knows when they are happy or sad, are they satisfied with their achievements or not, the people they like or dislike, their fields of interest, their friends, their capability of study and functioning, are they happy or not, is it hard for them to live or can they enjoy life. I think this knowledge of your child weakness along the years as the change in dependence occurs and the need to for privacy is growing up. Geographical distance is also a factor because if you are far away you are losing touch with the everyday life and it’s not because they are your children. It happens also with your friends.

To sum it up your knowledge of your child activities is influenced directly on his dependence on the parents and his will to share his life with them.  I thing that in all the basic qualities ,moods, satisfaction there is almost no material change if in the beginning you really knew your child.
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Latest Post: August 6, 2010 at 5:27 PM
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