The poem Children by Kahlil Gibran keeps popping into my head.
Right off in his first line, Kahlil Gibran is strong and to the point:
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.
I can hear some parents saying… “what? Of course my children are mine.”
If we imagine or remember ourselves as children in our parents’ home… we can understand this much better. As children, if a parent acted as if they owned us or knew better than us with our little (but big) ideas; what did we feel? I know I would have felt unseen, unimportant; almost like “why try to be me if you're going to override my thinking and my thoughts”.
Our children have come through us and they come with their own ideas, their own quirks, likes and dislikes. It is their path to walk alongside of us. We are the means by which they got here, but they came with their own design. There is a force, a destiny by which they were called to come through us; “Life’s longing for itself”.
That little one chose to come through you, so that you could model your gifts, and they could choose to take what resonates and leave what does not. We need to be the “parents” but also be ourselves, being worthy of imitation; allowing them to choose the good.
“You may give 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 backwards nor tarries with yesterday.
We are here to care for them, to love them, to offer what we can. They are not here to have to think like us or to be like us. I am so glad of this …. For the world is changing so fast; just the technology alone is one obvious example. We will need them to have their own unique and original thoughts and beliefs in order to navigate this ever changing world.
“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 are not here to determine their potential. We are here to help them uncover who they are and who they want to be. It is the selflessness of parenting that brings us to another level of being human. It is in this “bending” allowing, guiding the arrow of our children and shooting them forth into world – that is our responsibility as parents. Let this selfless bending come from a place of joy, honor, gratitude and pure love.
I imagine you saying, “How can I not?”