This poem by the wise poet Kahlil Gibran has been an inspiration and a guide ever since I was pregnant with Lia. It can be a rather shocking idea for some parents, but I hope in here you will find some truths to our role as ‘parents’. The way that we’ve learn to parent our children involves control, manipulation (no matter how creative it appears to be, or how we think we’re ‘disciplining’ them), “should”s and “no”s and “I know better than you”s. In our wanting the best for them, we take on living their lives for them unknowingly – after all, they ‘belong’ to us because they are ‘from us’, right?
That might be true biologically, but if you reference the origin of the word (Latin ‘parent’), it means ‘bringing forth’. Nope, there’s nothing about owning them in there. Instead, it means as parents, we are tasked a role as their guardians to ‘bring them forth’ into themselves.
Here’s how Kahlil puts it elegantly:
“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.”
~ “On The Children”, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran