My Two Favorite Poems About Raising Children


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…

-excerpt from On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Even though I’ve read it a million times, this poem always makes me tear up. I can’t even begin to dream of what the world will be when Tru is my age, but I can hope that it will be a kinder, more open-minded, more compassionate world. I can’t begin to imagine who he will be either, but I can hope that he will be someone who honors his own Soul and his important place in the world. This poem reminds me that it’s not so much my job to impose my own restrictions and beliefs on my son (or Life’s son, to be more accurate!). My job is to help him grow strong and sure in the guidance of his own Heart…




Please don’t tell me I should hug,

Don’t tell me I should care.

Don’t tell me just how grand I’d feel

If I only learned to share.

Don’t say, “it’s alright to cry.”

“Be kind,” “be fair,” “be true.”

Just let me see YOU do it,

Then I might do it too.

-adapted from Don’t Tell Me by Shel Silverstein

Wow, these words! I love Shel Silverstein. What this poem teaches me: all the things I want for Trevor, all the things I ask of him are – in reality – the things I want for me. I’ll say that I want Tru to “not whine,” to “not complain.” Three hours later, I’ll catch myself …. whining and complaining. I’ll tell him “Tru be strong! Tru be so brave!” and then I’ll think about all of the many ways I’m not currently living up to those strong and brave standards myself. So Tru, please always know I’m trying – taking baby step after baby step – to become the person I want you to be!


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