But from my vantage point, watching the kids of my three siblings and of my many peers grow up, I’m struck less by the genius or folly of diverse child-rearing techniques than by the way most of the children matured into who they seemed, from the get-go, destined to be....And while they were indeed coaxed toward better or worse etiquette and cleaner or sloppier rooms, they weren’t, generally speaking, transformed. At age 8 they were essentially larger, more articulate versions of who they’d been at age 4, and at age 13 they were larger and more articulate versions still, with iPhones affixed to their palms. What had always been wonderful about them remained so. What was difficult did, too.This suggests to me that there’s something more consequential than Kumon or Montessori, a Ritalin prescription or rugby practice, attachment parenting or minimalist parenting, Alba’s doctrine or Paltrow’s dictums. Nature gets its say. Always has and always will.So parents: cut yourselves some slack. Take a deep breath. No one false step or one missed call is going to consign your children to an entirely different future. Make sure that they know they’re loved. Make sure that they know their place. And make peace with the fact that you don’t hold all or even most of the cards. There may be a frustrating sense of helplessness in that realization. But there’s a mercy, too.
I feel this to be so true when watching my own children. They are so different from each other, and from me and Steve in significant ways, and they are so clearly who they are, and always have been. Before I became a parent I thought I would have more control, or more power, and increasingly I have come to realize that I have very little say - I can direct, or nudge, possibly, but no more. I like Bruni's conclusion that this should be a source of peace to anxious parents, including myself.