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Kahlil Gibran on Parenting
My birth announcement included a poem by Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931). I’ve read it a few times without giving it much thought or consideration as to why my parents chose this. And then my life changed - I became a mother. A mother in a painfully troubled and complex world. Likewise, a world that is equally marked with wonder and ineffable beauty. This transformation has left me in a perpetual state of reflection and existential cogitation: what do I teach this soul about life? What have I learned about life? How do I impart hope, inspiration, and a deep sense of self and the pursuit of authenticity?
Recently, I came across Kahlil Gibran’s poem and it took on a new meaning. Kahlil’s poem grounds me in the knowledge that the soul that has joined me has their own journey. It is not my job to impart my thoughts, rather to simply offer unconditional love, encouragement and acceptance as they find their path and passion.
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