How often have you heard parents lamenting the fact that their children have gone off track or that they are wondering aimlessly through life with little sense of ambition?
Frustrated parents of those children who have dared to go against the grain and eek out a unique space in the world often also harbour a sense of failure in not having accomplished their vision for their child.
Recall the words penned by the much feted Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, in his seminal work, The Prophet, first published in 1924.
He wrote: ‘Your children are not your children. They are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but they are not from you and though they are with you, they belong not to you’.
The angst is understandable; it’s only natural that we would want the best for our children but maybe we set ourselves up for disappointment by typecasting our children’s lives from the minute they are old enough to recite the alphabet?
What ever religious doctrine you may subscribe to, the source books all speak of a parent’s responsibility to shepherd our children through life. So, it is widely accepted that a parents role is to love, guide and protect their offspring.
So, relentless efforts to instil strong moral fibre, a robust work ethic and a sense of community register as a good success rating in the parenting realm. However, if, as Gibran states, our children represent ‘life’s longing for itself’ then where do you draw the line? Who holds the destiny chalk, you or your children?
Gibran went on further to say: ‘you may give them […children] 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 a place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams’.
Fittingly, these words, when set against the gloomy backdrop of current global financial crises, serve as an invitation for us to review our perspectives of parenthood. Gibran’s tomorrow is now!
Speak to the ‘wayward’ children; those who respond to ‘life’s longing for itself’ and you will hear stories of a journey deep with conflict as they wield a double-edged sword of respect for their parent’s desires countered against their soul’s yearnings.
This leaves many tossing out passion in search of steady incomes no matter how soul destroying the career. Those brave enough to stick their neck out are often confused as they navigate through feelings of betrayal to the parental vision to pure joy as they touch their dream.
Is there room for a happy medium? Parenting styles that seek to nurture the soul vision while building the foundation blocks of ambition, drive and passion? We better get ready to find it, because today our children say, yes we can!