Parents and children

When I was young, my parents sent me to a mental institution three times ( 1966, 1967, 1968). The reasons in my medical files are banal. It was said that I was isolated, hostile and miserable at school. I was not crazy but I was rather just a 17-year-old who really wanted to become a writer. Because no one understood this, I was locked up for months and fed with tranquilizers. The therapy merely consisted of giving me electroshocks. I promised to myself that one day I would write about this experience, so young people will understand that we have to fight for our own dreams from a very early stage of our lives.

When I realeased “Veronika decides to die”, a book that was a metaphor of my experience in a lunatic asylum, the press started asking me if I forgave my parents. In fact, I did not need to forgive them, because I never blamed them for what happened. From their own point-of-view, they were trying to help me to get the discipline necessary to accomplish my deeds as an adult, and to forget the “dreams of a teenager” .

Khalil Gibran has an excellent text about parents 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 our 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.


  1. Cyn Pugh says:

    I was not happy as a teenager, Already coping with my cerebral palsy I was diagnosed with Epilepsy.
    I fell out with god.
    I was so drugged up and scared that I became withdrawn people thought I was just being awkward. I left home as soon as I could. I never had felt so free as the minute I became my own person..
    Kahil Gibran was my inspiration at the time and I remember writing a letter to my mum quoting Kahil Gibran Your Children.
    Many years past and I had children of my own. I was worrying about my daughter as she had run into many difficulties. I was talking to my mum about my worries. The first thing she said to me was” Remember that poem you sent me all those years back, I think you should read it and remind yourself of it”. I was shocked I never thought my mum had taken any notice. To remind me of the above was just what I needed. Kahil Gibran I thank you !!

  2. Shaimaa Fouad says:

    They come through you but not from you,
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,

    wow .. thanks Paulo

  3. Good writer ……. but we must respect to our parent

  4. ishita says:

    it is another masterpiece of your work.

  5. Maria A. says:


  6. Belgyk says:

    cuando era una adolescente, era malcriada y revelde, Dios me bendijo a los 21 años con una princesa y hoy que mi hija tiene 7 años y es bastante madura para su edad es cuando entiendo que no siempre estamos en lo correcto, ella tiene un caracter muy similar al mio y es bastante independiente, Hace justo 6 años atras encontre el escrito de Gibran en un cuadro, y lo copie sobre una foto de mi hija cuando tenia 2 meses. lo hise justo para que me recordara dí­a a dí­a que no quiero hacer de ella una copia de mí­, sino darle lo mejor de mi, pero con su propia luz. Haciendo esto he aprendido a aceptar mis errores y a corregirlos….Estoy aprendiendo a ser madre, pero sobre todo a ser hija. Grasias Sr. Coelho porque sus escritos forman parte de mi crecimiento.

  7. nayeem says:

    Just reminds me about a scholar who once told me that “By the time we realise what our parent’s said was right we have our children to prove that we are wrong”

  8. Anthony says:

    Estoy empezando a leer el libro de Veronika decide morir. Mi hermana me lo obsequio ayer y estoy deseoso de leerlo completamente.

    1. Amal J. Azoury says:

      … when I was a teenager, I used to say Gibran’s words to my mom… and then I grew up, got back in the line, became “mature” and now have 3 kids of my own.
      About a month ago, my daughter, 11, told me the same words… it hurt, I can’t deny it, it also scares… and I reacted, denied, justified; my daughters were carefully listening to my words, their eyes filled with healthy rebellion and dreams and passion for life and freedom… and I remembered me some 20 years ago, and I started conceding, mildly, shyly, but surely… but then again, it’s the walk of life.
      One has to remember, established do’s and dont’s are not the absolute Truth, they are the convenient one… diagnosing a child with mental illness just because he can’t ‘fit’ with the convenient Truth is in itself an act of mental illness, an act of savagery incoming from constipated ignorance … ahhhh some doctors and other ‘experts’ and references of our societies … the innumerable number of legal crimes they have committed in the name of this convenient Truth… blessed by naive parents, blind believers, passive citizens.
      May each Child be given all he/she needs to accomplish himself/herself… all the love, encouragement, acceptance and support that they deserve – for that is the Pact that should be the base of all societies.

  9. Dr.Joy Margate Lee says:

    Your Wealth of experienced has enlightened me on how to handle my kids now that they are adult..You have given me the understanding that it is not entirely the fault of the parents the failures of their children…They too will make and decide the path on the road or path to take…The same way we did ours…

  10. dr.t.b.swami says:

    Hi Paulo!
    i am a doctor myself and i just loved reading you…
    what you replied when asked if you forgave your parents is exactly what i feel, am a mother of 2 young adults and i feel it is very difficult to be a good parent. and i agree that each child should be given a chance to develop and pursue his interest right from the day he understands.
    Very good work and will look forward to read even more.

  11. Joy Joseph says:

    Dear Paulo,


    Joy Joseph

  12. neya says:

    I have been away from my son for 13 months now and I know somehow, this experience and the situation that I’m in will help me get ready for my son when the right time comes. I can only imagine how hard and terrible it would be when that time comes, but then I know its something inevitable and something that I will have to face eventually.

    Thank you Paolo for your inspiring stories. My Ma admires you immensely and has nothing but praises for you. All the best for you and your loved ones. And oh, in my book, you are the greatest writer of all time :)

  13. Shadilala says:

    These days i was feeling bad because all my children are far away from me-but after this i feel free and once again taking a dive in the endless ocean of joy which life provides us.

  14. Lorena says:

    A mi me susedio algo similar de lo cual sufri mucho y sigo sufriendolo,pero tengo fe que Dios y el tiempo borren esas heridas del alma,tu vida me inspira a seguir luchando

  15. NALDY says:


  16. Pallina22 says:

    simply wonderful. My parents have the same poem hang up in the kitchen to always remember what their children meant for them. Despite their endless love, they understand our need to fly away to catch our dreams.
    No golden Cage is better than freedom.
    Great works,
    Valeria, Italy

  17. aneta says:

    I love you because you are my soul mate

  18. Olga says:

    Es extraño, si me hubieran hecho eso a mí­ los hubiera destruí­do. Es extraño, pero yo siento que ellos fueron los niños y yo la adulta sin ser adulta. Mi madre murió de cáncer hace 4 años, mi padre tiene 84. Es la fecha y los veo como niños. Es más, mi vida es como estar en un inmenso patio de juegos que es el mundo, después de un tiempo sólo quiero desconectarme, ah, los niños. Los amo a los dos pero más a ella con quien siempre tuve choques de carácter, ahora lo sé. Mi padre es demasiado parecido a mí­ y prefiero todo aquello que me aporte algo más, algo diferente. Puedo odiar fácilmente pero también puedo dejar pasar errores con facilidad, todo está en la quí­mica.

    La magia ocurre cuando el ego se enfrenta con la realidad, ¿verdad? Puede ser una magia buena o una magia mala pero ahí­ está. Creo.

  19. Los padres nos equivocamos con los hijos!!! No son nuestros juguetes, ni la prolongación de nuestras vidas, ni quienes harán realidad nuestros sueños truncados. Los hijos son seres…libre de pensar, sentir, ser, creer, amar, elegir y colorear su vida con la combinación que ellos elijan. Nuestro trabajo: guiarlos, levantarlos cuando caigan, abrazarlos cuando sufran y quererlos sobre todas las cosas…

    1. fabiola says:

      Maravilloso lo que has escrito. Asi es, arroparlos cuando nos necesitan y amarlos sin invadir!!!

  20. Shiva Afshar Naderi says:

    To the dearest writer ever,
    Inspired by ur masterpiece, alchemist, I’ve asked myself several times,” Did really Paolo himself have a great goal in life? ” Although I knew the answer in my guts, I got it tonight and feel relieved.
    Love u and ur books
    Iranian woman- Shiva

  21. Noemi says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Your books mean a lot to me! Finally I have got a signed edition too:) Thanks for not giving up on becoming a writer!
    Have a blessed day!

  22. Agustín says:

    Me encantó Veronika decides to die, pero anoche vi la pelicula y la verdad no me gustó. Creo que para alguien que no ha leí­do la historia quedan muchos cabos sueltos

  23. Natalia says:

    Estimado Señor,
    Es admirable ver la fortaleza de su espí­ritu, más admirable aún es que su perseverancia lo haya llevado al sitio donde esta. Gracias por compartir con nosotros sus vivencias y por dejarnos aprender de ellas.

    Natalia Franco.