On Children and a Letter to Nick on his 16th Birthday

August 19, 2002

My dearest Nicolas:

Today is your 16th birthday! I can’t believe it! It seems that you have been in our lives for such a short time yet here it is ~ your 16th! I have been thinking about you all day today. I am so proud of you. I have so many hopes for you and I have such faith that you will be somebody important to the world some day. You are already becoming an outstanding young adult. You have a good head on your shoulders and such sensitivity in your heart.

I know that you will have struggles along the way. But I believe that these will be temporary and hopefully not too painful! I also know that it can be a challenge to be my son. I have high expectations and I know that I can get carried away in my explanations and discussions. But it’s because I love you so much and I want the very best for you. Please don’t ever allow my shortcomings to interfere with our relationship. We have a truly remarkable relationship based on my conversations with other parents of people your age! I never want to lose that comfort or your trust.

I am overwhelmed by my love and pride for you. It is so hard as a parent to let your children go…to provide them with the opportunities to make their own decisions…to let them experience the challenges and pain of mistakes made…to show them that they are loved. But I have been preparing myself for this moment of greater independence since the day that you were born. And hopefully your father and I have prepared you for it too. Judy and Lyle gave your father and I a framed saying when you were born. I understood it then…and now we must live it. The theme of the saying was to point out to parents that their children do not belong to them, but rather that they are “of” them and that children are arrows to be guided to their own well-being. You are well on your way!

Happy Birthday, Nicolas!

On Children

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.

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