Monday, June 1, 2009

Your Children are not your children....

I love this poem about our children by Khalil Gibran (The Prophet, 1923). Every so often I pull it out and read it slowly, allowing the words to settle down between the cells of my consciousness. I learn more acceptance each time I breathe in the lines.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

And he said:

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.


  1. I have heard the beginning of the poem in a Sweet Honey in the Rock song. I had no idea the origination of the words. A Song called On Children.

    Here is a link to hear a snippet.

  2. I have known this poem since I discovered Gibran in my teens. I didn't begin to know what the words mean until I had children, unique individuals and independent spirits all. I knew my children would grow into their "own." What I didn't expect is to like them so much.


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