The following dialogue is from the TV series SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996). The dialogue takes place between Captain Bridger and Dr. Wendy. The Captain has been given charge of a teenage boy named Lucas. He is really struggling with the boy’s stubbornness and rule breaking. Most recently Lucas had sneaked out to see a girl.

(Outside view, SeaQuest at dock. Wendy walks in on the Captain who is
pruning a series of bonsai trees)

Wendy: I thought I might find you here

Captain: Lucas not back, yet?

Wendy: Not yet. He’ll be ok, you know.

Captain: I know. Pretty rusty in my fathering, wouldn’t you say?

Wendy: I don’t know. Maybe he found the right girl

Captain: The right girl? After one night? Well, I’ll take that back. I
was seventeen myself, once.

Wendy: And you survived.

Captain: Amazing.

Wendy: You did. We all do.

Captain: No word?

Wendy: Uh-uh. (sits and really looks at the plants) These are very
beautiful. What do you do to make them grow like

Captain (rearranging, pushing the one he was working on away, pulling
another closer): Patience and a lot of attention.

Wendy (stroking leaves): Do you design them so they come out that way?

Captain: No, Nature does it, (Wendy stands again) I just help. A little
judicious pruning here and there. I work on them all the same way, but they all

grow up a little different. Surprising; and beautiful.

Wendy: Like children. (taps his shoulder and heads out) See you
later. (Captain looks very thoughtful indeed)


Children grow in their own way. Like plants, you can influence them and shape them to some extent. But in the end, they have their own lives and make their own way.[i] They do not grow into your expectations of how you want them to be. They evolve into their own people. They may never enjoy the things that you want them to or dreamed they would. If you spend too much time pining over what they are ‘missing out on,’ you may miss the person they are becoming. If you want something that will have the exact shape that you want, buy a plastic plant. Otherwise be prepared to either adapt your expectations or have them forever frustrated.

[i] A recent study found that the relationship between parents’ and peers’ expectations for pro-social behavior in a teen and that teen engaging in such pro-social behavior was mediated by the teen’s own values. Essentially, whether a teen will choose a pro-social activity that they know others in his life approve of depends on his own value system. Padilla-Walker, Laura M. & Carlo, Gustavo. (2007). Personal Values as a Mediator Between Parent and Peer Expectations and Adolescent Behaviors. Journal of Family Psychology 21(3), 538-541.

For more information on how children are born with personality strengths and tendencies, refer back to the section Math Problems and its endnotes.


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