Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,so He loves also the bow that is stable
—Kahlil Gibran, “On Children” from The Prophet
This poem rightly resonates the type of parenting I ‘try’ to achieve everyday. Kahlil Gibran’s message which, is so fair and true, tells us about the disappointment so many parents feel by how their children fare in their lives. The hurt parents feel, if the children are not up to the expectation of the parent which can only be true if some how the parents bought into the notion that they have some sort of a right/ entitlement over the children.
I try not to expect anything in return from my daughters and don’t believe taking care of them as an ‘investment’ for my old age. I try to not use the word ‘sacrifice’ pertaining to the choices I make regarding my career, vacation, free time, hobbies and things which I always wanted to do in my life, because in doing so it will somehow keep them in my debt and lead to unhealthy expectations. Moreover I try to find a balance in all these. It’s the selflessness of parenting that gets me going every time.
The image of being bent so that my child can shoot forth into the world is the perfect metaphor for the way parenthood feels to me.
I just felt compelled to share this poem, as much for you as for me.
Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer of the New York Pen League.
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