The unbearable joy of being a parent

Watched Tare Zameen Par with my kids yesterday. While we had the CD at home for quite a while, we avoided watching this movie with kids thinking it would make them very sad. Even yesterday, we skipped the parts where Ishaan becomes suicidal. They thoroughly enjoyed the rest. More than we expected.

My son Surya asked me if this was a period movie. Meaning do parents and teachers do this to their kids even these days? I guess we should feel good neither the school nor how we are bringing up our kids resembles Ishaan’s life.

Being a parent is very hard. The short term feedback cycles are misleading and the real feedback cycles that matter are too long. Nothing you learned in life prepares you to be a parent. At best you have the data point of your parents or grand parents. Then internet dispenses too much advice on parenting. Basically you are flying blind.

It can only be described as an ‘unbearable joy‘.

Here are things I found most interesting

Be a gardener and not a carpenter – I read an article recently (A manifesto against parenting) that put it very nicely that ‘parenting’ is not something you do, but a state you need to be in. One should not be a ‘carpenter’ – looking to create something or shaping your kid – but be be a ‘gardener’ who can only create the environment for the flowers to boom – but with little control.

Your Children are not your children: For me nothing comes close to the thoughts in Khalil Gibran’s poem. He talks about not how your children are not your property, even if “they are with you“. You need to love them but not control their minds or thoughts. Like the misinterpretation of the quote ‘Child is father of the man‘, he talks of  a counter intuitive goal that we need to strive for – to be like our children and not make them in our image (or of our dreams). The most profound thought is in the last stanza, where he likens the child to an arrow and the parent to the bow. How beautifully he says “For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable“. This is what it is to be a parent. To be a stable bow for your children to launch.

On Children by Kahlil Gibran

    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 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 …

kahlil-gibranReference:

  1. Poetry by Khalil Gibran
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