Your children are not your 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,
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.

Khalil Gibran

This beautiful poem was written in 1923 got me thinking about child-rearing and ownership.

The Copyright Act of 1970 provided an initial term of ownership for 14 years – at the time 14 years was about the time it took to raise a child to adulthood. After 14 years (or 18, 22, 25 or even older as we’ve kind of extended legal infancy) parents really have to let go of their children, and acknowledge they don’t “own” them. In fact did they ever truly own them in the first place?

American culture has become so individualistic and children it seems are born with a “belong to” label, or if they are adopted their adoption decree seems to serve as a “proof of purchase” in a sense. When birthparents terminate their parental rights some view this as something to say that they are completely cut off, disconnected and no longer able to have a voice or say in the child’s upbringing.

What would a society where we believed that we all belong to each other look like? Would this worldview help to eliminate racism, white privilege, hierarchy, social stratification and other creations that come with ownership and power?

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