BY JOHN L HORTON
“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.” (S) Khalil Gibran (Lebanese-American Poet, Writer and Philosopher) (1883 – 1931)
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” (S) Frederick Douglass (Abolitionist, Author and Diplomat) (1818 – 1895)
As we progress farther into the twenty-first century, parenting is still one of the most difficult – and thankless – job there is. Too many of us already understand this reality of life only too well.
As a result, we need to be(come) more involved if we are to raise happy, confident and successful children. Nothing much will ever change until more families are empowered and want to be held accountable for the upbringing of their children.
I believe wholeheartedly, that the family – no matter its composition – is the original and best department of health, education, welfare…and salvation. As such, parents must learn to more effectively communicate with, listen to, support and supervise their children. I have found that there are basically two kinds of parents: those who think they can and those who think they cannot. And, they are both right.
Being a supportive and involved parent is one of the most challenging jobs there is. Parental support and family involvement are the pure essence of “reaping what you sow.” If you don’t give anything up front, you simply don’t get anything back. It takes lots and lots of hard and smart work. Pure and simple. Furthermore, while it has been said that it takes a whole village to raise a child, I firmly believe that the family of the child being raised must be at the center and forefront of that village.
As parents, we must continually challenge our children to do the right things in life. Expect their very best. More than likely, they will probably surprise you (and themselves). Raising successful children reminds me of the “proper care and maintenance of an automobile”: “Children are much like automobiles in that they have to be maintained and inspected on a daily basis. Children, too, are valuable and precious and they have to be parked and housed in a safe and caring environment. They usually perform and respond in direct proportion to the time and effort that is put into maintaining and preserving them. Occasionally, they may even need a ‘tune-up, overhaul or reconditioning.’ For, that is the way it is with automobiles and children. Basically, you get out of them what you put into them.”
A loose interpretation of the above “automobile-child analogy” is: To be a good parent, you must be strong, sensitive, serious and sincere. In short, parenting is a “24/7 job.” As such, you are expected to make basic rules and set appropriate family standards. Remember, no one can rise to low expectations. Moreover, earn and keep your children’s respect. This is crucial to good, effective parenting. If respect is ever lost, it is almost impossible to regain. Basically, being a good parent means “setting a good example” for your children. This is probably the “Golden Rule of Parenting.”
In summary, it is our parental responsibility to supervise, support, secure and stabilize our children. If it is to be, it is up to us (parents and caregivers). Accordingly, we must always remember the wise and eloquent words of the poet, Khalil 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.”
In closing, there is an old African proverb that comes to mind: “For our children to be successful, all we need to do is give them their roots and their wings.” Parents, it is up to us to give our children their “roots of responsibility” and “wings of wonderment.” No one else can do it like we can – nor should they be expected. Therefore, let us roll up our sleeves and get the job done. For, as Frederick Douglass and many others have said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”