Beautiful Beliefs 3: I believe that…

Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Beautiful Beliefs | 14 Comments

…I am the bow and my children are the arrows. 

This belief is derived from one of my favourite parts of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet…

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.

I was chatting with Mark Silver, Randi Buckley and Lea Woodward yesterday on Twitter about home-education, and it struck me that, the cornerstone of my educational philosophy, is my belief in my role as a parent to be the bow that launches my children into their future.

I have home-educated my kids from the beginning. And so, more than likely, have you. I held the space for them as they learned to crawl, walk, run, dance. I shared words and wisdom and wonders, and they shared the same with me. I introduced them to the world step-by-step and I supported their sometimes tentative, sometimes cautious, explorations of their environment.

Together we discovered rainbows and puddle-jumping, dandelion wishes and the art of blowing bubble. Together we followed trails of ants, we retraced footsteps pressed in soft wet sand, we grew seedlings, picked strawberries, cradled caterpillars gently in soft pink palms.

And then we decided just to keep on going. Instead of learning how to read, how to add, how to find Japan on a map, how to form letters with fat pencils held in chubby hands, in a classroom, our learning continued at home. And it still does to today. Only now the focus is on ratio and architectural drawing, Georgian dress and modernist painting, Cretaceous creatures and Jacobite rebellions.

This decision was never taken with the intention of keeping them cosseted, held close, tied to apron strings. It was to liberate them from an educational system structured according to political and industrial agenda. It was to give them the freedom to become the gorgeous open-minded, quirky, open-hearted individuals that they are without the need to conform to the ideals of an artificially engineered social peer group.

It is with true aim that I let these arrows fly, while I hold strong and steady. And it is with enormous pride and intense humility that I stand back and watch them claiming their tomorrows…

A few resources…

This is a Beautiful Beliefs post. If you would like to share your own, simply complete the sentence ‘I believe that….’ on your blog, explore a little about where that belief comes from and how it expresses itself in your life, and then come back here and leave a link in the box below and share it with everybody here.



  1. Karen
    May 23, 2012

    This is beautiful Amy. I totally agree that our job, as parents, is to let our children go – to teach them about respect and dignity and independence. I have not home schooled (is that right!) my three girls, two are grown up and one is a teenager, but I have tried to let them thrive on neglect and allow them to find their own ways. It seems to be working as they have/are blossomed/ing into beautiful, accomplished, successful young women. I am proud to watch them grow and to know that they are my daughters!

  2. Joanna Paterson
    May 23, 2012

    It’s a wonderful thing that you’ve done with and for your kids Amy. And just look what amazing people they are!

    I remember hearing a phrase about parenting that goes like this:

    Give them roots to grow, and wings to fly

    And that’s basically what I tried and have tried to do. The flying part was hard at times – single parent / only child is such a strong tie! – but that simple expression helped me to keep trying to do it the way I believed was right, for both of us, in the long run.

  3. Amy
    May 23, 2012

    Yes, ladies – I so love both your comments here! Thank you!

  4. Rachel @ Suburban Yogini
    May 23, 2012

    This is beautiful. I just wish it were true of all parents.

  5. Amy Oscar
    May 23, 2012

    I love knowing this about you! When my children were small, my husband and I spent many days deciding how we wanted to educate them. Our son had been to public school for two years (K and grade 1) and we were NOT happy with the results or the system. We went back and forth between Waldorf Education (there was a 50 year old WS about an hour from our home) and home schooling. I loved both ideas. We chose Waldorf – and I don’t regret it. Still, when I read a post like yours, I grow wistful for the deep gift of homeschooling – there’s so much there for the parents, too. Total immersion in all of those fascinating things that our own educations left out.

  6. Amy
    May 23, 2012

    I love hearing these stories of raising & educating children. And I’m relieved too! When I first posted it, I was a little nervous as, what sometimes happens when I declare this particular belief is that, others perceive my choice, my belief, as a judgment on them. And I think that’s possibly one of my most significant takeaways from this Beautiful Beliefs series so far – that we can hold a space where we can express our beliefs freely and honestly and they will be heard and respected. Phew!

    • Karen
      May 23, 2012

      Absolutely no judgement whatsoever Amy – maybe if I’d had my children at a different time/place, had realised that home schooling was even an option and had had the confidence it’s the choice I would have made. Certainly with hindsight it looks like a good option!

    • melanie maddison
      May 23, 2012

      Wow , you great wonderful women, I was so moved by your words, so no judgment at all!

      Im very inspired by your choices despite mine being different, only wish I had your patience, but my eldest seems to thrive at school and the littlest, wellll , jury’s out still!

      I do feel she would benefit from a Montessori or Steiner school, which is much more about developing unique little beings in their own way. She is so not one to conform!!!! Im all for igniting their individuality and special qualities, something alas that the state system here isn’t equipped for. She learns in a totally different way to the system of teaching offered at our once great (potential for it to be again)? Orthodox Faith school, what to do with that…………!

      Its funny, I was about to write in the last few days about how inspiring my 9 year old has been for me with her approach to art & life. I actually was following your conversation on twitter with Mark & found it so interesting & apt for my thoughts the last few weeks.

      It seems everyone in my vicinity is in this same space of reflection about their offspring!

  7. Julie Gibbons
    May 23, 2012

    This. Yes. Oh, yes.

    Thank you for accompanying us on our life path and helping give courage when doubts fly.

  8. stargardener
    May 23, 2012

    How marvelous! Reading this post and realizing that even though “my arrows” are launched … I share this common thread with such brave, kindred souls! I was quite an unlikely candidate for learning at home with my children, or even being a mother. However, it was an enriching way to share life and learn with my children as they discovered the way in which they would go. Thanks ever-so much for these lovely words!

  9. Autumn Song
    May 23, 2012

    I love this image, Amy. It’s a beautiful poem, too. You always speak so eloquently about home educating. I’d have reservations about it myself, I think, but you and your children are extremely good ambassadors for it!

  10. Raven
    May 24, 2012

    Amy, as always, so beautiful and loving. I think this series is such a lovely example of how to share your beliefs in a loving way so that even those who disagree with you find it hard to be negative about it. I am not yet a mother, but homeschooling is one of those things I think about a lot. I’ve put this post into my resource list so that when the time comes I can refer back to it. I get the feel from your post that the decision just flowed organically, so I hope to remember that in the future. Thank you!

  11. Christa Gallopoulos
    May 28, 2012

    I love this, Amy – my first visit to your site, and you inspired tonight’s post! What a really wonderful post here, and a great concept for sharing.

    My daughter graduates from a very cool, small high school in a few weeks. I read your words and my heart aches that I wasn’t brave enough to educate her at home. For her, it’s all worked out beautifully, of course…

    Thank you.

  12. I Believe 1 | karen
    June 8, 2012

    […] you would like to know more about Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there! This entry was posted in Uncategorized […]


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