When I was in high school, my mother gave me the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. At such a young age, I couldn't yet appreciate his words and insightful teachings. Recently, I picked the book back up and read the passage on children again. Now that I have two children of my own, it resonated with me in a deep powerful way and brought me to tears.
Your children are not your children.
They are 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 make 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 also loves the bow that is stable."
- Kahlil Gibran
We all want the very best for our children. We instill in them morals, values and traditions, hoping that they will turn out to be good, upstanding people in society. We want them to make us proud. When our children are rude or act out, we see it as a reflection on us... that somehow,we are at fault.
What we need to realize is that our children are their own individual souls. They come into this world with their own imprint, their own life purpose and their own destiny of who they will become in this world. Yet, we oftentimes squash their individuality and uniqueness. We get frustrated with them when they don't do the things we want, think the way we think, pick up interests and hobbies that we played when we were kids, or be the kind of person we think they "should" be. We essentially project all of our own stuff onto them, not giving them the opportunity to become who they are meant to be in this world.
Our children are not us. Nor are they meant to be. They are meant to create themselves. To discover who they are and what they are passionate about. To respond to the world in their own way, with their own authentic emotions.... not in ways we dictate to them are "right" or "wrong." Do we all respond to things that happen in our life the exact same way? Are we all passionate about the same things? Do we all do things exactly alike? No. We are all unique and different creatures and so are our children. What our children want most is to be seen, heard and loved for who they are.
Raising a conscious child, one who really understands themselves and the world around them requires us as parents to be truly present with them. To observe what makes our child happy. What makes them respond with joy? What scares them? What makes them withdraw within themselves and feel uncomfortable? When kids act out, oftentimes it's a way of them saying, "Mom.. Dad. SEE me! See who I am!" It's easy to become so distracted with all of the responsibilities of being a parent, combined with the complete exhaustion we feel on a daily basis that most of us aren't truly present with our children. We aren't attuned to them. How can we be attuned to our own children when most of the time, we aren't even attuned to ourselves?
It does not mean that parents shouldn't discipline their kids when they do something inappropriate or unsafe. Children need boundaries and we are the ones responsible for ensuring those boundaries are put in place to protect them. It means we allow our children to be who they are and feel what they do within the confines of the boundaries we set. It means not telling them how they should feel. But instead asking them WHY they feel a certain way and making them feel heard.
Parenting is not an easy job. But raising conscious children can be. It simply requires us to be more present in our own lives and connected with our own spirit so that we can help our kids be present in theirs and connected with who they truly are. As Kahlil Gibrahn said, "we are the bows from which our children as living arrows are sent forth, in hope that they may go swift and far."