Photo source: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ‘Growing Up’ album cover

We were listening to the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song the other day called ‘Growing Up’…

As a reflection on his impending fatherhood, we really admire Macklemore’s honesty in admitting that he too is in fact still growing up.

“They say boys don’t cry
But your dad has shed a lot of tears
They say I should be a strong man
But baby, I’m still filled with fear
Sometimes I don’t know who I am
Sometimes I question why I’m here”

Although we are not yet parents ourselves, it got us pondering more about parenthood in general. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? People are given full responsibility for the lives of other people. We started questioning… what actually is the role of a parent? Is it to raise another person in our own image? Is it to raise another person in the image we wish we actually were? Or is it simply to raise another person?

It’s time we ask ourselves… Do we truly wish our children to succeed on their own merits? Or do we wish them to succeed for our own egos? So that we may tell the world of the wonderful success that bore from us. What is ‘success’ anyway? Is success by our own standards the same as what success means for our children?

Ok so in that case, our only goal is to ensure our children are happy. We work long hours so that we can send them to the best schools, live in the best homes, have the best toys, and wear the best clothes. That’s surely right, isn’t it? But does this make them happy? Or does it actually make us happy? What is ‘happiness’ anyway? And how do we measure it?

In our endevour to do our very best for our children, are we allowing them to develop their own way of being in this world? Or are we in fact imposing our own beliefs, our own opinions, and our own behaviours onto the next generation of humankind? Are we subsequently holding them back from first searching for their own path, then discovering it, then travelling down/up/around/under it, by their own choice of transport, in order to finally reach their desired destination, or a different destination altogether, or none at all?

Well what is the solution then? What is the recipe to perfect parenting? We certainly are in no position to make this sort of call, so we looked to other sources for some guiding principles…

Kahlil Gibran was a well-known poet who lived in the early 1900s. He shed light on this very notion is his beautiful piece entitled ‘On Children’:

“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”.

This is well and good but it still begs the question: what can we actively do to help us become the perfect parent? The answer we discovered was (with help from one of our lovely Centred Meditators): the only thing we can possibly do is acknowledge that we too are still growing up, and simply work on ourselves. Start to become aware of our own imperfections, insecurities, biases, stories, and work on them – every single day. Aim to be mindful of what we are saying, and more importantly, how we are saying it – all the time. Strive to be present and give our undivided attention to those around us – at every given moment. Acknowledge that the truth is, perfection isn’t actually possible. We will inevitably make mistakes. It’s what we do and how we do it after we make those mistakes wherein lies the opportunity for true parenting.

Ram Dass (previously Professor Richard Alpert), is an American spiritual teacher who wrote a famous book in the early 70s called ‘Be Here Now’. Below is one of the pages from his book which highlights this idea.