Bows and Arrows, Mothers and 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.

Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet, On Children


This is my favorite quote on parenting. Gibran was such a wise poet. As a mother I have often felt like God was bending me with all His might, that the arrows that are my children would fly straight and true. And how the poet writes of, in addition to God’s love for the arrows, how He also loves ‘the bow that is stable’. Stable. Such a beautifully descriptive word, for holding oneself with a bow, and as a parent. Strong and steady. Knowing that being the strong one for those arrows, the children granted in our care, is worth everything we can give of ourselves and learn to make it so. Understanding we will falter along the way and then having the grace to apologize, no matter how young the child, for a voice raised or shortness of temper.

I loved the story of a mother struggling to curb her temper with her two little ones, so she taught them about sizes of different fruits and vegetables they often had in the kitchen, and then made a game of it. They would be playing and her children would ask, ‘What size is your temper now Mommy?’ and she’d laugh and say, ‘The size of a pea.’ But as they headed out grocery shopping she might warn that it was the size of a cantaloupe so please stay close to the cart. And later if needed she’d tell them with seriousness, ‘Mommy’s temper is about the size of a watermelon right now.’ Children want to please. They want a happy mommy. Let’s help teach them with tools they can understand. I recall this story from the book, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” which I feel is a worthy classic for every mother to read to become the very best ‘Mommy’ she can be.


Click here to view “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” on

Image source The Tree Maker (family coat of arms/wood plaques)

Author: Gina Day

I enjoy gathering uplifting things for sharing, with hopes of brightening the day.

20 thoughts on “Bows and Arrows, Mothers and Children”

    1. It’s worth searching for. It helps from toddlers to (occasionally) sullen teens when it can be tough getting them to talk about anything. Thanks for the comment Emily. Cheers!

    2. That is of course if you were referring to the parenting book, although the wisdom contained in The Prophet can help with everything, parenting and beyond! It’s worth finding at the library too! Just reread your comment and my reply and realized I’d assumed I knew which book you were going to try and find at your library. Silly me. 🙂

      1. I did mean “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk.” I have read about it on your blog and also in the “Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Even though I am not a parent yet, I think it would also be helpful for people working with children. I might check out Kahil Gabran too, since I really enjoyed the poem you posted. Thanks!

        1. Whew, my instincts were right the first time, but was wanting to check. Interestingly enough, much of this post was inspired by YOUR May 9 post “What’s your life’s passion?” where you shared so honestly about some (understandable!) frustrations that can come up working with kids. I enjoy following your blog and am more than delighted that you liked my post and have commented here. You are a shining star Emily. SO happy to have connected with you here. Warmest regards, Gina

          1. Thank you so much, Gina! Starting a blog (and then making it public) was really terrifying for me. I only just posted a link for my family and friends this weekend. I love writing and one of my favorite parts of being a “blogger” now is having the opportunity to meet new people and be inspired by what others have to say. Posting something online for the world is like posting a little piece of yourself for everyone to examine. I love following your blog as well and am so happy that we connected. Thank you again for such kind words!

            1. Emily I agree completely about it being terrifying, this sharing of ourselves in such a public manner. I ‘went public’ by accident after switching from the browser Safari over to Firefox, and I misunderstood a Firefox pop-up and once clicked – boom, there I was, getting noticed and getting my first ‘Like’. All of which is awesome but I wasn’t sure I was ready, had been just developing my blog, building a couple of posts, all in the ‘private’ status under the Privacy settings. I know I could have reset to ‘Private’ but decided to go with it, after all, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans” (~John Lennon) Now I am loving it all, especially the unexpected sense of community with finding like-minded people such as yourself. Hugs

    3. Yes, but where’s the famous graphic, with the man and woman forming the bow, with their joint heads forming the nock of the bow, and their toes hooked to hold the bowstring, and the child as the arrow?

  1. Even if you aren’t a parent that is such a beautiful poem. I like Gibran a lot and have been reading it since I was in high school. Glad to hear it again.

    1. Such a good point you make here as his writings seem to reach us all don’t they? Thank you for commenting. So glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Such a good reminder… Gibran’s take on stability… that letting go is as essential as remaining firm, strong, and steady. I had not heard the story of the mom who compared her mood to the size of fruit – and relayed that to her children in a way that made them conscious of their need to respond to her accordingly. It’s a good one – and I will pass it along to a friend who is expecting her first child. She is a vessel about to deliver a miracle, and she is anxious to refill her vessel with all the wisdom she can muster. This will be a great story to add to her “Mommy Manual.” Too bad our children don’t come with one attached to their hips! Thanks for sharing, Gina.

    1. Thanks Jan for this wonderful comment! I’ve often wished that all children came with an instruction manual but alas it is the responsibility for conscious care-givers to find the sources that can help educate. Congrats and best wishes to your friend bringing a miracle to the world. Mom and child are lucky to have you in their world 🙂 Thanks again Jan. Kind regards, Gina

    1. Awesome! You get it. After I did the title I thought – oops. That could look like something else until the reader sees I’m referring to the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran. So glad you enjoyed!! Hugs back 🙂

      1. yes we are the bows from which our children fly. Its a bittersweet experience. Yet, the most fulfilling one in the universe.

    1. Yes isn’t it though? I remembered that from reading it over 20 years ago and used it with raising my sons. Glad you enjoy!

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