During our holidays there were a couple of occasions where I saw adult birds looking after their offspring who were larger than them! I managed to take some lovely photos of a swan and family of cygnets and I watched them for ages, preening and feeding - the parents seemed to be trying to let go and, at times they swam ahead, just looking back occasionally to check on their "little ones!". It was lovely to watch.
On the technical side to this painting, my previous experience was telling me to lay a dark wash between the chests of the swan and cygnet to give maximum tonal contrast around the focal point. But my heart and instinct told me to leave a passage of light between the two :-)