Here is my interpretation of Gibran’s poem ‘On Children’
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.
In this poem, Khalil Gibran – who himself did not have any child, is giving a message to parents about their children. He says that the children who are born to you – are not yours, you as parents do not ‘own’ or ‘posses’ them. You and your partner have been chosen by God to be the channel for this life – body, soul and spirit – to come into existence. You are to give them love and care, you will take care of their needs until the time they can do it for themselves – but that does not mean that in return for this you indoctrinate them with your thoughts. If you let them have thoughts of their own, they will surprise you with their brilliance. He says instead of teaching them, we can learn from them and strive to be like them. He says that parents are the bow from which the children shoot forward as the arrows – and God is the archer, orchestrating all of this. He says, be glad – you have this joy of being a parent – do all you do for your children in that gladness. For as God loves the brilliant arrows being shot forward – he similarly loves a bow which is strong, balanced, grounded and stable. He is basically, asking the parents to be a solid foundation for the children; solve your own issues – so that you don’t shake up your child’s childhood by your own mental imbalances; grow up first – before you try to help them grow up.
Taken from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
Image credits : me 🙂