“Our” children

 In what sense do our children ‘belong’ to us?

This is the simplest and most profound parenting advice I’ve ever read.

It was written in 1923 by the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran in his book ‘The Prophet’. Maybe everyone is familiar with this, maybe Archies have even come out with a card with these words on it, but I’m impelled to acknowledge that Kahlil Gibran laid the foundation for everything I was to learn later about raising children. Here it is:

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.

*****

We connect with characters in books and movies;  we remain connected in spirit with people we love even after they move on to a different dimension; sometimes we feel an instant connection with a person from a different century simply by reading the thoughts he left behind in his writings. Kahlil Gibran is one of those people for me: this page is a Thank You to him across the bridge of Time.

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