Here’s how the poem ‘On Children’ by Khalil Gibran can help in coping with Empty Nest and other stressful syndromes

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Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” But any and every issue related to children causes anxiety and stress for mothers. Full-time home-maker and part-time writer, Sonia Akre Kohli, shares with us the secrets of tackling this syndrome and coming out stronger (hint, Khalil Gibran’s poem plays a big role in this).

So, over to Sonia Akre Kohli…

I am not a big fan of poetry but sometimes certain words come to you at the right moment, just when you needed to hear them, or are looking for answers.

This poem was forwarded by a very dear friend, randomly, and it struck a chord:

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.

Seeking Solace

It is now the one I turn to, very often, when I’m lonely or when I need to address some issue that involves kids, specially when I need to know where, when and why to stop thinking and leave some things and decisions to fate.

With kids growing up faster than ever, before you realise they have grown up enough to take independent decisions which are sometimes most contrary to what you may think. They may still be young according to us (parents) but sufficiently grown up to take their own decisions…sometimes or even most times we can foresee trouble but choose to remain silent because only when they fall with they become stronger(hopefully).

Try as much as we want to we can’t live their lives for them and bail them out each time in spite of our best wishes. They have to undergo their fair share (sometimes, even unfair) share of physical and mental stress, alone, all alone. When kids leave home for various reasons, whether it is to pursue higher studies, a job or just move out for no particular reason it unsettles us very deeply.

The kids get busy adjusting to a new lifestyle and a new-found freedom but the parents are left behind in a tizzy. The empty nest syndrome compounded with a certain but slow disconnect in spite of best efforts from both sides leads to increased stress levels.

When it bothers me very much, I hunt for this ‘fact’ of a poem and read it. It’s actually etched in my mind so much that I can recite it backwards but I prefer reading it in print. It calms me down. I often send this poem to my family and friends for those occasions when answers are being sought.

A Powerful Message

In fact, now it is something of a joke when instead of consoling a troubled parent with long sermon-like messages, this poem does the work, effectively. I have also been made fun of and scolded too for passing it around to all and sundry to the extent that my kids are ready to murder me whenever I send it to them time and again. It somehow conveys a very powerful message when I  am feeling helpless.

It is also the time to get back to unfulfilled hobbies and ‘me’ time and doing what we put on the back burner for years hoping to get back to it sometime later in life. This stage comes after a long struggle, when we realise that we don’t have an active role to play in our kids’ lives, and it is time to back off gracefully.

Then, from the sidelines, slowly but surely, after a few trials and errors, we watch our deftly shot ‘arrows’ make a definite mark somewhere. So, when your kids are upset over a trivial matter, whether they are sitting in a different continent or in the next room, and you are helpless, your best bet is to fall back on your favourite poem and forward it to them yet again for the nth time hoping it will diffuse the situation even if temporarily, lighten the mood and bring a smile to their faces.

(Pic Source)

(This piece written by Sonia Akre Kohli was first published in MYPOWAI.IN).

Read a previous post by Sonia Akre Kohli here.

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