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.
Several years ago during the Mother’s Day service at Neshoba I encountered these words for the first time. Ever since I’ve regarded it as a central component of my parenting philosophy. Children need love, security, guidance, structure, encouragement, and support from their parents. Somebody who is a role model that quietly leads by example. Beyond that….their path in the world is theirs to make. This is not to suggest I will let my kids run wild in the name of ‘finding themselves’ but young people need room for growth and exploration. Within a reasonable context they deserve the freedom to discover themselves and their world.
I especially love the line: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” What are some of the most meaningful parental writings to you?
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,