New year’s resolutions don’t work for me. When I try to come up with the ways I want to improve my dadding of the dudes, I end up with either a list of semi-inspiring clichés, or a paragraph that reads like some corporate mission statement. It feels fake and ineffective.
Now, as far as I can tell, those well-intended promises from present to future self, ain’t working so well for anybody else either. Take weight loss for example, probably the single most resolutioned topic year after year. How many of us have resolved to get fit and trim in previous new year’s eves? And even though many of us have actually shed some pounds in the early part of the year, how long did our new-and-improved body kept the fat off? The blubber almost always comes back, sticking to the ribs like old cheese to a pizza box. Why? Because it takes an uncommon resolve, and an OCD-like tenaciousness to measure, examine, and calculate every calorie consumed, and burned, every day, soup to nuts. It flies in the face of our psychology, and biology, not to mention the triple cheese pepperoni with wings.
Nine out of ten cases, resolutions don’t work.
Nevertheless, when it comes to parenting the dudes, a role which I regard as one of my highest callings in this current incarnation, re-clarifying my intentions helps me become more of the parent I want to be, and less of the half-baked default schmuck that greets me in the mirror every morning. And a new year is as good a time as any to remind my present self how I want to conduct my future self, knowing beyond a doubt that I’m going to frequently trip over my inadequacies.
So the best I can do here is post this poem by Khalil Gibran, the highest form of parental advice that I’ve ever seen or heard, which I keep going back to since the dudes were born. It never fails to remind me that the essence of the relationship between parents and their offspring is that of unconditional, non possessive love.
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.
Gotta run, my pizza’s getting cold.