Yes, Dear Parent, of course you influence your children. When you mirror them well, they get a little clearer glimpse of who they are and they settle a little more comfortably into their soul. When you join them well, they learn they have a place to belong, a safe place to return to when the world tries to take a bite out of them. When you see them well, they know they matter , and the world needs kids who know they have a part to play in this great big human project. And when you limit them well—with love instead of power—you teach them the value of finitude, the beauty of boundaries, and the contract for community.
But, Dear Parent, beyond that, there’s not a whole lot you can do about how their lives play out. You have almost no power over who they are going to be. In this great poker game called parenthood, the hands have already been dealt and, for the rest of the game, we’re mostly just bluffing our way through the mystery of it.
So, instead of worrying about our lack of control, or beating ourselves up for the outcome, may we all cut ourselves some slack and focus on becoming the best witnesses we can be.