Parents often try to steer the life of their children. They decide for their children and make them live according to their wishes. Kahlil Gibran’s poem ‘On Children’ talks about such issues and on proper parenting.
The poem starts with a woman asking a person to talk about children. So the unknown narrator starts of by saying,
Your children are not your children.
Most of the parents think of their children as belonging to them or think that they own them. But this is a toxic mentality. One can never own a person because people aren’t objects. Every child has his/her own life and it belongs to him/her and no one else. They did come from the wombs of their mothers but that doesn’t mean they are owned by their parents. So, every child has the right to decide and live his/her own life in the way they like.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
Because children tend to make mistakes and don’t know the world, they require guidance from their parents. But parents should not use this as an opportunity to impose their preferences and opinions. They should rather support and guide instead of making choices for their children.
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.
Parents may shelter their human bodies and not their souls. Their souls move freely and live in tomorrow. Many parents try to realize their dreams through their children without knowing that it was a past they failed to live and that it is already today, which the children wish to live in.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
The poet brings in the comparison parents as bows and children as ‘living arrows’ in the hands of our Creator. The archer, our Creator, sees the mark at an infinite distance. The mark is our death. He bends a bow (a parent) to launch an arrow (a child). When the arrow is shot, the trajectory it takes is defined by the arrow itself. The bow just lends its strength to the arrow to travel. Hence, the parents should make sure that the bow in the hands of the Archer is properly used. The Archer loves both the bow and arrow that serve the purpose properly.
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.
Thus, the poem provides a valuable lesson on parenting.