The child is the father of the man

I know there are different interpretations of this line from the poem “My Heart Leaps Up” by Wordsworth but I see it (the particular line, not the entire poem*) as a sort of role reversal wherein the parent obtains wisdom from a child. Kind of a :smack: moment if you will. There have been a number of times in my life that my children have said things that stopped me dead in my tracks and I’ve said “OMG! He’s right! How come I never saw that”.

Well my sons are full grown men now and it’s still happening. Last week I picked up #2 son at the airport after he returned from a snowboarding trip to Canada and we discussed how expensive it was for such a short time. His explanation was “I’d rather spend my money on experiences than things.”

The child is indeed the father of the man.

I bet y’all got some stories too.

*Confession: I didn’t even know it was a poem. I first came across the line because of a Moody Blues album. I just now found out about the poem because I Googled it, thinking that the MBs picked it up from somewhere else. Thank Og it was a short poem because I think most poetry is pretensious bullshit. But that’s material for another thread. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s interesting. I never interpreted the saying that way. The saying I heard that comes nearest to what you are describing was “Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom.”

I always thought the saying meant that your upbringing and childhood experiences would determine what kind of adult you would turn out to be. For example, a child that never socialized well with other children would not grow up to be a very good politician.

I first heard the phrase in an abnormal psychology class about the effect childhood temperament has on adult personality.

We were asked to interpret this line (though I always heard *to the man) *on the last day of high school English class. I thought then, as I do now, that it simply meant that the child’s upbringing and experiences determine what kind of adult he will become.

To expand on this, think of it thusly:

Say you are 41 years old. At this stage of your life, being in your 40’s is a new experience for you - you’ve only been at it for a couple of years.

But you have within you all your past experiences: who you were when you were three, 14, 17, etc. All of this makes up your present day “you”.

In other words, the wisdom and experience of all of your earlier yous are the origin of your 2013 model. You were a toddler way before you became a 41-year-old; the toddler you, oddly, has more experience than the adult you.

I know this is convoluted, but this is how I’ve always interpreted it.

Wordsworth was big on the idea that kids see things that they can no longer see when they grow up, become acclimated to society’s norms, their expectations, etc. Sorta like Dylan’s “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Get in touch with your inner child.

The Child Is Father To The Man was the first Blood Sweat & Tears album.

BS&T album cover

Without going through the 158 MBs titles in my iTunes, I’m not thinking of that particular phrase anywhere, though there are multiple references to children.

Me, too. I tended to pair this with the saying about how the twig is bent, so the tree inclines.

I think it’s from To my Childrens’ Children’s Children.

Too late to edit, but there is no The in the album title.

Like some others, I think the phrase refers to the early experiences “parenting” the man.

Chiming in to agree that the adult is not going to be fundamentally different from the child. The man is a direct product of the child he once was.

Thanks for the correction.

Yeah. I think the point of the poem is, if I lose my sense of childlike wonder just let me die.

See now I’ve always interpreted it to mean, your child is your teacher too. Very Buddhist, I must say.