Growing Each Other Up
When Our Children Become Our Teachers
With Growing Each Other Up, Macarthur Prize–winning sociologist and educator Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot offers an intimately detailed, emotionally powerful account of that experience. Building her book on a series of in-depth interviews with parents around the country, she offers a counterpoint to the usual parental development literature that mostly concerns the adjustment of parents to their babies’ rhythms and the ways parents weather the storms of their teenage progeny. The focus here is on the lessons emerging adult children, ages 15 to 35, teach their parents. How are our perspectives as parents shaped by our children? What lessons do we take from them and incorporate into our worldviews? Just how much do we learn—often despite our own emotionally fraught resistance—from what they have seen of life that we, perhaps, never experienced? From these parent portraits emerges the shape of an education composed by young adult children—an education built on witness, growing, intimacy, and acceptance.
Growing Each Other Up is rich in the voices of actual parents telling their own stories of raising children and their children raising them; watching that fundamental connection shift over time. Parents and children of all ages will recognize themselves in these evocative and moving accounts and look at their own growing up in a revelatory new light.
1 : Witness
2 : Growing
3 : Intimacy
4 : Acceptance
Conclusion: Cross Currents
Suggested Further Reading
“In a beautifully written book, full of insights from the author and the people she interviews, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot teaches us how important it is for parents to be open to learning from their children. She teaches us that when we open our mouths to speak, we should be sure that our ears, our minds, and our hearts are open too. This may be the key to being a successful parent, and also to being a successful teacher, doctor, or supervisor.”