One of my favorite books by Khalil Gibran has brought so much wisdom to my life since I was a teenager. In this chapter he speaks to parents about their 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.
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Faith is an acceptance of what we cannot see but feel deep within our hearts. Your actions are a direct result of your faith. Being able to have faith in one's self and in one's future is important, especially in trying times. Being an example of faith for your children will keep them on the right track. The dictionary defines faith as "Belief that something is true, in spite of evidence to the contrary". Christian faith is defined as "The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will." What is God's will, but that each of us may live an honorable life?
Teaching faith is really instilling a set of principles and values in your children from a very young age in order that their actions will lead them onto a positive path. The same principles apply for every religion and ethnic background, so having faith is universal in spirit.
Faith is also verb, because it means we must act on what we believe. Faith, as we have seen, is the theological virtue of being secure in our belief. As children grow they are influenced by many things that cross their path in life like their parents' words and actions, things that happen in school and other children/adult relationships with them. All these experiences, both good and bad create the thought processes that follow them throughout their adult life. Instilling faith as a belief system as they grow into young adults is very important because it instills confidence in them, even when they fail in something.
Teaching children to have faith in their own ability is the first step in being able to act upon it. By repeating daily words of confidence to your children, discussing choices that they make, both good and bad and encouraging them to take the initiative to act upon positive thoughts, will help them believe in themselves and will encourage them to do their best. Trusting your children to make the right decisions with your guidance gives them the freedom to develop their own faith and encourages them to make the right choices. That is the beginning of teaching faith.
Parents' actions create the daily influences that determine the mindset of their children. To have consideration for others and to be honest in your intentions is what makes children grow into honorable adults. Having faith in others, not just themselves, allows them to view what happens on a daily basis in a non-judgmental way. Expecting respect and giving respect to people around you is something that should be automatic, but sometimes the simplest things become complicated and misguided. The lack of faith in all people creates bitter attitudes and allows the blame game to begin. All we have control over is ourselves. As parents, we have control over our children's development. Displaying faith through your own actions with your children will show them how important it is to believe in things without always seeing the physical evidence.
Long ago, someone made the analogy that faith is a lot like the wind. We cannot see the wind, nor can we hear the wind unless it blows against something, and we can only feel the wind when it touches our skin or rustles our hair. Faith is like that wind. We cannot see what we believe in, we cannot hear what we believe in unless we open our eyes to the truth, but we can sure feel that our faith is justified by the joy we feel in our hearts. Remember, in the end, we all put our faith in something, so let it be the truth. The old saying is, "the truth will set you free". Having confident belief in the truth of a person, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof is what faith is all about. This all starts with the faith in oneself. With faith, one has hope, trust, love, and the certainty that all things are indeed possible. Displaying that to your children and coaching them through their formative years will enable them to develop their own faith and to be a shining example of a life well lived.
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" -Kahil Gibran
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