“Your children are not your children …
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
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.”
—Khalil Gibran,“On Children” in The Prophet (1923).
This may be some of the best advice about relating to our children we can find. Parents are to be the steady or stable “bow.” Our children do not belong to us. They are the most important guests we will ever have in our home.
Another piece of wisdom came to us from a counselor, Phyllis Raney, who led a parenting class at our church. She told us our job was to provide the best smorgasbord of possibilities of experiences for our children to sample. What they choose, however, is up to them. We are to be the best possible providers of opportunities for them to experience; but we cannot control their decision as to what they become interested in.
We have three children, and as parents we had busy lives as physicians at a children’s hospital. We wondered how to give quality individual time to each of our children. At the birth of our second child, my mother-in-law gave me a book, Promises to Peter (Word Books, 1974), by Charlie Shedd. We read in it about taking each child out to dinner one night a week. We let the child choose the restaurant, within reason. So, one night a week, usually Monday, was “date night” with one of our children. It was a gift to concentrate on letting that child tell his or her story without distractions, and to appreciate how much you loved him or her.
We also went to many medical meetings each year and tried to take one child with us, again hoping to spend quality time one on one. This was one more offering on the smorgasbord.
Our children are older now with children of their own. It is easier to be the steady bow.
The steady bow image has now also become an image for our relationship for God. We learned about it as we tried to raise our children. Now it is teaching us more about how God cares for us. The smorgasbord has also become the image of the innumerable ways God has provided for us to learn more about this One who so loves us like a parent.
Come and get a signed copy of the new book
Just in time for the holidays
A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany
The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter
Both are $18
All Money from sale of the books goes either to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast
Seibert’s, 27 River Ridge Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72227
10 to noon, Saturday September 14, 2019