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How should we raise children?

In a brief conversation I had with my father once, a conversation of amends, I apologized for being so difficult as a young man. He chuckled and said, “They didn’t give us a manual at the hospital.” So where is the manual?

One of the greatest errors I see in raising children is what we call “enmeshment”. The parent doesn’t realize the child is not them, not an extension of them, or even for them.

I am reminded of this beautiful story which tells us most of what we need to know. I hope you’ll forward this story to all the parents you know, and soon to be parents, so we have a world that supports the unfolding of happy beings, not conditioned extensions of past generations.

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 are 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.”

If is from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

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