The things we CAN do for others and the things we CANNOT do

One of the most difficult challenges a person can ever take on is the task of being a Parent. Being a parent is intimidating, it is heart wrenching, and some days it is downright terrifying. You do your best to teach your kids everything even though you are still learning yourself, you do your best to set the right example for them even though you still make your own share of mistakes every day, you do everything you can to keep them safe yet still try to allow them plenty of room to experience life, and you try to be there to comfort them when they struggle yet still allow them to own the consequences of their behavior. Parenthood is a never ending struggle to try and do right.

I came across a poem the other day written by a Catholic Priest named Father Medard Laz. His poem struck me because it reminded me that as a parent there are the things you CAN do and the things you CANNOT do for your child. We can teach and warn and protect etc, but we then have to recognize that we can only do our part and it is up to our children to do theirs. The poem is also a great reminder for all of us who are somebody’s child (which means all of us) that our parents can only do so much for us and then it is up to us to determine the person we are going to be in life.


I gave you life..
But I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things,
But I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions,
But I cannot always be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom,
But I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church,
But I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong,
But I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes,
But I cannot make you lovely inside.
I can offer you advice,
But I cannot accept for you.
I can give you love,
But I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to be a friend,
But I cannot make you one.
I can teach you to share,
But I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect,
But I can’t force you to show honor.
I can grieve about your report card,
But I cannot doubt your teachers.
I can advise you about friends,
But I cannot choose them for you.
I can teach you about sex,
But I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life,
But I can’t build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink,
But I can’t say NO for you.
I can warn you about drugs,
But I can’t prevent you from using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals,
But I can’t achieve them for you.
I can let you baby-sit,
But I can’t be responsible for your actions.
I can teach you kindness,
But I can’t force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins,
But I can’t make you morals.
I can love you as a child,
But I can’t place you in God’s family.
I can pray for you,
But I cannot make you walk with God.

Our job as Parent’s is to focus on the things we CAN do for our children, and our job as children is to focus on doing those things our parent’s CANNOT do for us. It’s all about doing those things we CAN.

Make it an amazing day!

~Amy Rees Anderson


  • Noah Evans says:

    From a child’s perspective, I love this. Just shared it with my amazing mother! Your children are lucky to have you!! Your next share should be about being a grandparent!;)

  • Jane says:

    This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  • Darrin Briggs says:

    Thank you for this. I needed to to hear this today.

  • Michael Fletcher says:

    Another thing that makes it difficult as a parent is the things that we can and cannot do for a child changes continuously as they grow older and each child is unique. I have 4 children and they couldn’t be more different.

  • Ssimbwa Robinson says:

    l really love this and needed it this time.

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