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, 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.
My Thoughts On This Poem.
Children are fascinating human beings. We feel pride that we played a part in their creation after they are born. For those we adopt, we feel pride that we will touch, influence, and play a role in the creation of what they will become. Most parents love their children in ways they never dreamed was possible for them to love someone. They know and take seriously the job of protecting, educating, and socializing their children. They realize if they fail in this task, society will do the job and often it is done without compassion or love. We teach them how to navigate in the world and how to keep themselves safe. Hopefully, we teach them how to communicate successfully and how to interact with others in a positive, respectful way.
It is our job to introduce them to values and thoughts as well as knowledge, and to do so in an open and objective way. It is not our job to make them into carbon copies of us. It is not our task to force values and thoughts down them and negate their own thoughts and feelings regarding issues. We can try, but the truth is, life is full of changes and experiences. Environments change. The things that have an impact on our lives, change. What we can do, is ask and answer questions, be role models, and live our values. That is what will make a difference in their lives.
Kahlil Gibran was telling us, in this poem, to respect our children as being separate from us, to encourage them to love and seek knowledge, and to question their beliefs as well as others. He encourages us to support them in learning how to develop their own value systems, their own thoughts, and feelings. They are driven to do so any way in their teens. He emphasizes that we not treat them like objects, our possessions. They own themselves and their future. We can not go there.
These are the thoughts and feelings I had when my son was born. I quoted this poem to him in my head. I promised him that I would protect his right to be his own person. I have never broken that promise to him. He is his own person, and his thoughts, feelings, and dreams belong to him. I love him because he is his own unique self. I will always love him.