One of the greatest truths I know is that our children are not ours to keep. They are not our possessions and our job as parents is to give them independence and their own set of wings to set off on their journey.
We teach them about life the best way we know how and we move forward, remembering that our life is our life and their life is their own. Through living our own life to the best of our ability, honouring ourselves and what is true to us, we show them the way.
The Road Less Travelled by Dr M. Scott Peck is quite a famous book. However it is not an easy read and Its hard to extract the pearls of wisdom from it, but they are there. The diamonds are in there. I wanted to break it down for you because I find his wisdom truly inspiring.
On the subject of marriage and children he champions the notion of separateness, stating that the problem with our relationships with our children and with our spouses is that we have a want, a need, for them to be like us. We want them to follow the same path, have the same likes, dislikes, interests, thoughts and opinions. We are unconcerned with their spiritual growth and the need to fulfil their own destiny. We just want reassurance, through picking out the similarities, that we are the same, meaning we can predict their behaviour and actions and keep a semblance of control over our lives. Because without that control where would be?
We, in sense, would like our children (and partners) to be one of the greatest extensions of ourselves. But the reality is to truly know and love someone – you have to let them be themselves.
He quotes the prophet Kahlil Gibran when talking on the subject of parental narcissism,
“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”
On the subject of marriage, he says that a common and traditionally masculine marital problem is created by the husband who, once he is married, devotes all his energies to climbing mountains and not to tending his marriage (base camp) expecting it to be there in perfect order whenever he chooses to return to it for rest and recreation without assuming any responsibility for its maintenance.
A feminine problem is once a woman is married she feels that her goal in life has been achieved. The base camp is the peak of the mountain and cannot understand her husbands need for achievements and experiences beyond the marriage and reacts jealously with never ending demands for more time at home.
What may make us uncomfortable is that by looking at our husbands and children as separate to us we give them the freedom to leave us. The notion that we have control over the outcome of our lives is farcical but to some extent we truly believe that and by not truly letting others be themselves we can trap them, boxing them and labelling them for all to see.
“My property. Like me because they like music and books. Tied to me in gratitude for all I have given them and how like me they are.”
Again he quotes Kahlil Gibran:
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love
Let it rather be a moving sea between shores of your soulds
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts”
I find this achingly beautiful and can recognize so much of my need for control over life in this. When you give this notion away you don’t lose control, for you never had it.
You need to give to receive, and what you receive is freedom.