Adults and Juveniles, Parents and Children, Teachers and Students
There are three relationships I want to talk about here: the parent-child relationship, the adult-juvenile relationship, and the teacher-student relationship. Each relationship is defined by two roles. For any one relationship, you can only take on one role out of the pair, but in multiple relationships, you may take on either role.
In the parent-child relationship, the parent raises the child. This generally means that they provide for basic needs, educate them or send them to school, and teach them basic life skills needed to survive on their own.
In the teacher-student relationship, the teacher teaches the student.
In the adult-juvenile relationship, the adult acts as a proxy for some slice of reality. In doing so, they simplify the complexity of said reality and allow the juvenile to hold a simplified view of this slice of reality. An adult who does a good job approximates reality the best they can during the simplification process so that when the juvenile “grows up” (i.e. must deal with reality and not the proxy) they aren’t blindsided by what they encounter.
Both the parent-child relationship and teacher-student relationships encompass the adult-juvenile relationship. By “encompass” I mean that they include the defining responsibilities of the adult-juvenile relationships and more. Parents find out quickly that they must simplify the complexity of the world in order to not overwhelm their children. Teachers understand that they need to provide a simplified understanding of the material at first and slowly increase the complexity as the student gains confidence and proficiency.
The interesting thing about these three relationships and their six roles is how independent they are. A person may be a teacher in relation to their students but a student in relation to their teacher. That same person can also be a child in relation to their parents but a parent in relation to their children and an adult in relation to their clients but a juvenile in relation to the people they rely on outside of their area(s) of expertise or experience.
Society is able to function because of the adult-juvenile relationship. Because reality is complex that no one person can understand it all, people specialize and take responsibility for a particular slice of reality. In that area, they play the adult role and help simplify the complexities present for everyone else. In every other area, they play the role of the juvenile and work off of the simplified worldview that the adults in that area provide. Only in the case of parent-child does one person become the adult in all areas, but this is (hopefully) a temporary state. In the mentor-mentee relationship (the more general version of the teacher-student relationship) this also happens to a lesser extent.