Parents and Children

A human infant is entirely incapable of sustaining its existence without the dedicated efforts of its parents. A birth, its bubble doesn't even fill its skin. Its limbs are simply bang-bang servomechanisms: they go until they hit something. Its voice is an unindividuated signal: in a nursery, some infants, although still discomfited, will cease crying when another infant starts, and resume when that infant is comforted.

Even after limbs and senses become recognized as personal properties, for months afterwards, when an object disappears from view, it disappears from existence. When a coveted toy is placed under a blanket, the infant simply turns its attention elsewhere.

In this context, the mother and father are responsible for joining their bubbles around the infant to create a safe environment in which its bubble can grow. Into the shield that cocoons, they pour their will to protect, and to encourage the infant to become more powerful. Ideally, there are others in the their environment that can share the burden, and project their gifts into the infant's experience. Without doubt, though, mother and father bear the bulk of that responsibility.

There are two distinct characteristics to that encouragement. Mothering is the gift of belief in ourselves as we are. It focuses on our health and happiness, creating the security to look outwards. Fathering is the gift of encouragement. It is the use of discipline, criticism and example to show us how to become better than we are. It focuses on ability at the cost of happiness and - in extremity - health.