You can coach youth, teach it, even try to bend it to your will, but it is marvelously self-reliant, something Ralph Waldo Emerson might admire.
Parenting, you see, is about as inexact a science as you’ll ever find. Each child is unique, and while some parents may second guess or regret things done and not done as their child grew up, it is a fool’s errand to find blame in yourself alone.
Kids have their say, in fact must have their say. That’s part of growing up. And how much of their decision-making is independent as opposed to ruled by nature or parent, no one can ever know.
Poets use the parent-child dynamic often. Hope and love are invested in the unfolding project of a child, but the investment accrues its own interest in its own time, and market forces are unpredictable, bear or bull.
Here is an example of a parent-child moment, a concrete anecdote used as metaphor in a parent-child poem:
Nature Walk by Gillian Wegener
The fern fronds glow with a clean, green light,
and I lift one and point out the spores, curled
like sleep on the back, the rows so straight,
so even, that I might be convinced of Providence
at this moment. My daughter is seven.
She looks at the spores, at the leaf, at the plant,
at this wise, wide forest we are in, and sighs
at my pointing out yet another Nature Fact.
But look, I say, each one is a baby ready
to grow. Each one can become its own fern.
But she is already moving down the path
toward the bridge and whatever’s beyond.