Your Children Are Not Your Children


Last weekend, I had the great fortune to deliver a parenting seminar at the Islamic Society of Frederick (MD). This is a topic of the utmost importance and one that usually leaves me recalling the words of the late poet Kahlil Gibran.In his famous poem “On Children,” Kahlil Gibran starts with a jarring line: your children are not your children.

There are many other hard-hitting lines for parents to come to terms with in that poem – I recommend reading it and contemplating how it relates to our lives as parents (or children).

My thoughts on the subject are below.

Hidden Treasure

In the well known hadith qudsi, or extra-Qur’anic Word of God, God tells us (paraphrased) that, “[He] was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.”

There are scholarly interpretations for what exactly God meant in that narration, but that isn’t the point I’m going for this morning.

What strikes me about these words is the pattern that can be found in them that Kahlil Gibran’s words seem to be echoing.

Consider Gibran’s words below:

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.

Whether it is knowing God or His creation (first and foremost our children), the process of uncovering who they are is critical.

We should get to know our children, not try to force them into our desires for them. Similarly, we should get to know God and what pleases Him, not think of Him in a way that is self-serving (ie acting as though what we like and are pleased by is what God likes and is pleased by).

Getting to know someone or something is the essence of a healthy relationship. We don’t tell others who they are – who they are is a story we should read and discover.

Getting acquainted,

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