At the risk of oversimplifying parenthood, it’s a bit like a scientific experiment, only with lifelong and even eternal significance and consequences. You need a lot of data, and it takes time to gather it. And like an experiment, careful observation and analysis of the data is required. We can only understand what the patterns in Scott’s life mean by spending time with him, talking with him, listening to him, and taking time to consider it all in a thoughtful way. That is how we got to know our son. It makes us better parents.
It’s delicate business to write about your teenage son in a way that won’t embarrass him, which I hope I haven’t, but because he’s our oldest living child he is the best example I can offer of how we learn what our children’s qualities, strengths, weaknesses, fears, hopes, needs, and desires are. By virtue of his age, we know him best because we’ve had more time with him, though we’re learning about our other three in exactly the same way. Through the passing of time children will easily reveal to you who they are, as long as that time is spent with them.