It was all a lot of words, theories and arguments that kept me busy till the actual work of parenting made me forget that I once had a theory about it.

As a schoolgirl, when I had first read Kahlil Gibran’s famous poem on children, I wanted to make posters of his words and paste them everywhere. My parents’ bedroom door was the most important place where these words had to go up.

“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…"

I have been a parent for 12 years now. Our firstborn child is taking her first set of final examinations in school this year. Exams make me restless. I feel guilty and callous unless I have wound myself up with stress and performance anxiety.

By the time I was 12, school exams were a recurring nightmare in my life. They had become a matter of life and death. It was not uncommon for me to feel or express to my friends that if I underperformed, my parents would kill me.

We all spoke like that. One of my closest friends would quote her father and say that he was willing to sell his bones to ensure that his children got a good education. The intense but ridiculous imagery of those words has stayed with me forever.

A large part of my experience of being a parent has been unlearning what I have absorbed from the family and culture that I grew up in and letting myself learn from watching the little people who are my new family. It is my turn to heed the words of Kahlil Gibran.

“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…"

Here are five unexpected lessons I learnt when I allowed myself to understand that everything I try to teach my children works much better when I practise it on myself.

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Trust children. Trust them to know what and how they want to do things. This has taught me to trust myself.

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