Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of children, Gibran, and a long forgotten quote

I discovered JD Salinger when I was in college. The Catcher in the Rye, although his best known work, a beautifully written novel of adolescent angst, and the first of his books that I read, is not my favourite Salinger. I fell in love with the Glass family, who inhabit Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour:An Introduction, and some of the stories in Nine Stories.
Salinger painlessly introduces concepts from Zen Buddhism and Japanese poetry, the Vedas and more. To a self-absorbed Delhi teenager, these were absolutely eye-opening ideas.
He opened up entire new worlds of Oriental thought, as well as my favourite quotation on child-rearing.
My friend Kiran has quoted here Kahlil Gibran's famous lines from The Prophet, which resonate with most of us for their absolute truth.

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 not tarries with yesterday.

Salinger has a similar quotation from one of the Upanishads, I think, which has stayed with me over the decades:

A child is a guest in the house, to be cherished and loved, but never possessed, because he belongs to God.

Being my irreverent self, I have added a proviso:

All guests have to follow the house rules.

I think that's fair enough!


Hip Grandma said...

'All guests have to follow the house rules.'

That's a typical mother! I am with you totally.And that was a lovely prayer cum poem your friend sent.I think I'll copy it and pass it on.

starry eyed said...

Yeah that's my favourite parent that each parent should get along with their new baby!!! In case they think they own their children!

And your addendum should be on a fridge magnet and the kids' rooms too:))))

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Loved your proviso! It's totally fair!

I also chage my two little 'houseguests' payment in the form of hugs, cuddles and 'kishies'.

Sujata said...

Very well written post!

Anonymous said...

well said. Well said!

"A child is a guest in the house, to be cherished and loved, but never possessed"
that's how I feel.

I know he's come from me; and he has a direct link to my heart. But he's NOT mine. He's his own little person. With his own likes, dislikes, life. They are not mine to control.

Maybe that's coz he's just 10 months olds. Maybe when he grows up and tries to assert himself, I'll fret and fume. But for now, I let him be. Himself. And I hope that I can continue doing that as he grows up.

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sue said...


Yes. All guests have to follow the house rules. :)

Neera said...

LOL ..I am so putting this up in the house when the kids are old enough to read it :)

Mom Gone Mad said...

haha! Totally agree about the house rules..

They should really have put in a benevolent dictatorship clause in there somewhere.

Unknown said...

yes, yes, I must mine remember the house rules bit...

Rohini said...

I love that poem too. It's just so hard to follow in real life though isn't it?

Nino's Mum said...

It'd be the index on the parenting bible. But so, so difficult to do.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful quotes. I am ever reminded of the fact that they are not mine to posess, especially as the oldest is now a teenager. I try to give them the right tools and send them out each day to carve their own place in the world. Of course, the house rules are not to be ignored :)

ra said...

i loved that last line!

Suku said...

i am commenting again after a long time. i love Gibrancan i use Gibran and Salingers quotes but I simply love your proviso....!and yes, its totally fair!
i need to subscribe to Gibran's quote diligently ...

Itchingtowrite said...

LOL on house rules.. only u dipali

Anonymous said...

thanks for this quote, dipali. i would use it in my own blog and link to u :)