by Kahil Gibrahn
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.
I read The Prophet at a young age. Surprisingly as my younger self was prone to reading Jackie Collins novels and Cosmo.
Sometimes the ideas were a little over my head, but others just made sense. When I first read the above passage I was a child, not a parent. I had parents who, although I love them to this day, did not heed this advice. They lived through me. They felt as though they owned me.
With the sage wisdom of my fifty years, I now know, they were only trying to protect me and ensure that I had a happy life….the way the envisioned a happy life for me. I can’t fault them. I can only be different.
I have always tried (sometimes successful, sometimes not so much), to apply this philosophy to my three children. Now that they are all adults, it really hits home and is an absolute necessity for their well being and mine. I am very clear that their souls dwell in a place I can’t imagine. This makes me excited and happy for them! Even if they are stressed about their future, I am certain it will be beyond my dreams!
I especially like the line ‘you may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.’ This is an easy trap so many people make. Mothers and daughters that are so ensnared in their own neurosis and insecurities, they are almost the same troubled person. Fathers that live vicariously through their sons so pathetically that the offspring doesn’t live a life meaningful to him, but to a father. And so it goes.
I know that the Archer loves and values both the the arrow and the bow. I am proud of my arrows, but I know that they are not of me. They have their own path to follow, (as do I from my parents). The ‘bending’ of me from the Archer has made me joyful, happy and glad. Thank-you my little arrows. Off you go on the path of the infinite in the House of Tomorrow. I love you.MOM