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 our 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.
In 1984 I took part in an Anarchist Free School in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill. In the write up on the session on Authentic Education "On Children" was quoted. The presenter went to the Alternative School in Toronto and talked about the concept of the Alternative School as well as other models like Summerhill in England and the democratic free school model - the Sudbury Valley School in the US.
"On Children" struck a deep chord in me and I knew that this was how I'd raise my children. In fact, one of them is named in homage to the poem.
Did you know that Kahlil Gibran was heavily influenced by Abdu'l Baha in writing The Prophet??
The other advise I always took to heart was something Zoom said to me, "Kids are born perfect, our job is to screw them up as little as possible." So true.