Sympathy

Sympathy, Briton Riviere, 1877
Sympathy, Briton Riviere, 1877

Treating a child as a person seems easy enough. Until you realize you have expectations of your child that are linked to yourself. For instance, I expect my middle daughter to enjoy reading simply because she is like me in other ways. I tend to think these qualities of the mind and ideas are genetic. Maybe they are. I’m not a scientist. But at the same time, we are not clones. She has an entirely unique mind; not mine at all. She is herself, not me. There will always be parts of herself that I will never fathom. I must respect these mysteries. They are not mine. I am responsible for her, but she is not an object, a piece of furniture which I’d expect to wear a certain way over time. She will be the person God intends her to be, and I am His tool to serve, care for, and train her. I can sympathize with her, yes, but I can never completely understand her.

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