Writing parenting advice is easy. But the journey of parenting is hard, confusing, and overwhelming. Many people do not realize that when you are a parent, it is not only the child who grows, but you grow as well. You learn millions, if not billions, of lessons as you traverse through the challenges of raising children. Throughout history, numerous thinkers and philosophers have talked about the ideal style of parenting. These days, psychologists research parenting styles. But one person whose concise and to-the-point parenting advice has inspired many is Khalil Gibran. Gibran, a renowned Lebanese-American poet, writer, and artist, has, in just a few words, summarised for parents the philosophy of parenting. This article will explore who Khalil Gibran was and delve into his revolutionary parenting advice.
Who is Kahlil Gibran?
Kahlil Gibran was a famous poet born in 1883 in Lebanon. He moved millions of people with his poetry and with messages like “Life without love is a tree without blossoms and fruits”. Of all his work, the most famous and the most sought-after is a collection of poetic essays he called “The Prophet.” These essays explore various aspects of life, including love, joy, sorrow, and the topic at hand, parenting.
Kahlil Gibran had a difficult childhood. His father was incriminated at an early age, and he had to migrate to the US, where he lived in poverty. He also experienced multiple losses as his siblings and mother died of illnesses. Nonetheless, Gibran had a propensity for writing, and he used his losses to channel his art . It might be that it was this touch of genuine emotion that made him stand apart. Eventually, he attracted the attention of a patron who decided to support Gibran in his journey as an artist .
When he became famous, many people began following his teachings as lessons of life. When we talk about his advice to parents, we recall that Gibran had an uncanny ability to observe deeply the human condition, and it was through this that he was able to produce such significant words for parents across the world.
What is Kahlil Gibran’s parenting advice?
Gibran’s addressed parents across the world in his landmark book “The Prophet.” He could understand the frustration of parenting and could also figure out where this frustration originated from. Thus, in the third verse of his book, he talks to parents and gives the following lesson.
The above piece consists of many nuggets of wisdom. But of them, some that we need to highlight are  :
Parents do not own Children
Gibran begins by stating that while children come from the parents, they are not the parents’ property. This distinction is simple yet super important to remember. Many parents try to rule over their children. They want their child to obey and do all that he/she is told to do. This idea that parents own the children is so common that even the law forgets it. But children belong to no one except themselves, and they are here not to obey but to become the best possible version of themselves.
Children are not Meant to be Replicas, but Their Selves
Continuing in the tone of the above point, it is also important to remember that children are not carbon copies of their parents. They are not meant to be. They are distinct individuals. Gibran urges parents in his poem to encourage uniqueness and self-expression in children and help them develop their own unique perspective in life.
Provide Unconditional Love
As parents, many people ask children, “I gave you a house and an education; what is there in return?”. These are conditions. A message that you will be loved only when you do as I say. Gibran, on the other hand, talks about unconditional love in his verse and conveys to parents that while they may provide love to their children and provide them with a house, they should not expect or hope for any returns. The love is there, no matter what the child does. You can set boundaries, but not at the cost of love.
Do not Hold Children Back
Gibran also talks about understanding that children will move to the future, even move away. The parent is like a bow, while the children are like arrows that will shoot forward. The task of the parents is not to hold them back but help them move to wherever they wish to go.
Why is Parenting Advice from Kahlil Gibran important?
Khalil Gibran’s parenting advice highlights the responsibility a parent has. It reminds parents to support their children and move from a space of love instead of control. It is considered revolutionary because  
- Of his emphasis on the individuality of children that encourages them to move away from societal expectations.
- It encourages parents to provide a space for children that is nurturing, and loving, and growth promoting.
- It challenges most parenting norms such as being an overprotective parent, or an extremely strict parent.
- It demands that parents have respect and learn from them instead of seeing them as naive or helpless.
- It moves away from the idea that parents need to control children and feed them the values and beliefs that they have.
- It also moves away from the do’s and don’ts of parenting, which is more common in the domain of pop psychology.
- Finally, it warns parents against projecting their needs, wishes, and hopes onto their children.
Although stemming from goodwill, many parents often hurt their children by being overprotective and prescriptive. Many try and control their children and get visibly perturbed when children rebel. Remembering Gibran in such situations can remind the parents that children are their individuals and the more, and the more they exert control, the more resentful children will become
Kahlil Gibran might seem to be an unlikely source of advice when it comes to parenting. But this revolutionary philosopher’s poem holds the key to good parenting. If you can absorb his words and move from the intentions that Gibran shares, your relationships with your children will be of empathy and understanding. You will become their supporter, their cheerleader, and their protector, but you will be careful not to become their dictator.
If you are a parent who would like to understand perspectives on parenting in more depth, you can contact the parenting experts in United We Care. United We Care’s wellness and mental health team will guide you with the best methods for self-discovery and well-being.
- “Kahlil Gibran 1883–1931,” Poets.org, https://poets.org/poet/kahlil-gibran (accessed May 22, 2023).
- M. Verma, “Why Kahlil Gibran’s poem was the best parenting advice I’ve ever got,” Women’s Web: For Women Who Do, https://www.womensweb.in/2021/04/kahlil-gibran-poem-parenting-advice-av/ (accessed May 22, 2023).
R. C. Abbott, “Kahlil Gibran on why parents don’t own their children,” Medium, https://rcabbott.medium.com/kahlil-gibran-on-why-parents-dont-own-their-children-54061cdda297 (accessed May 22, 2023).