"In the very beginning, Moon, Sun, Wind, Rainbow, Thunder, Fire, and Water once met a very old man. This wise old man turned out to be Chief of the Sky Spirits. Thunder asked him, 'Can you make the people of the world my children?'

" 'No, no, no!' Wise Old Man replied. 'They cannot be your children but they can be your grandchildren.'

"Sun asked Old Man, 'Can you make the people of the world my children?'

" 'No, they cannot be your children,' answered Old Man. 'But they can be your friends and grandchildren. Your main purpose is to give plenty of light.'

"Moon asked, 'Can you make the people of the world my children?'

" 'No, no, I cannot do that,' Old Man replied. 'The people of the world can be your nephews and friends.'

"Fire asked that the people of the world be made his children. Wise Old Man replied, 'No, I cannot give them to you to be your children, but the people of the world can be your grandchildren. You can be their warmth and give them fire to cook their food.'

"Wind asked the same question as the others. Wise Old Man told Wind, 'No, no, the people of the world cannot be your children, but they can be your grandchildren. You can remove the bad air and all kinds of diseases from the people, and keep them healthy.'

"Rainbow wanted the people to be his children. 'No, they cannot be your children,' Wise Old Man explained. 'You will always be busy preventing too much rain and floods upon the earth.'

"Water asked that human beings be made his children, but Wise Old Man answered, 'No, the people of the world can never be your children. When they get dirty, you must always be available to wash them clean. You shall give them long life.'

"Wise Old Man continued, 'I have now told all of you the best ways to guide yourselves and what you can do to help the people of the world. You must always remember that these children of the human race are my children!'

"In this story, Old Man's teaching is for parents. All of us as adults have a special area that we excel in, whether it is making fire, making friends, healing people, cooking, providing warmth and shelter, or shedding light on ancient mysteries. The sun, moon, fire, rainbow, and rainwater all represent our different talents as adults. As we raise our children, we have a tendency to want to create them in our own image, because after all they are our children. We think they belong to us, and that we have the right to control them. In fact, sometimes we think we are their Creator and start to step into Old Man's shoes. We can see that those who try to force their children to live a certain way are often disappointed. Their efforts are met with rebellion and scorn, or complete indifference and ingratitude.

"In Native American culture, with some tribal groups more than others, we are to let children find their own path in life, to become as Creator intended them to be. Children learn to make their own decisions wisely if they get practice, early and often. As people of every culture have noticed, grandparents have the best time with children. Because they don't have parental responsibilities, they can just play and try to discover who that child really is — a rainbow, a star, a thundercloud — and then let them blossom according to their nature.

"This story tells us that is not such a bad way to raise a child, because they are not our children anyway. We are all children of Father Sky and Mother Earth (a few tribes say Father Earth and Mother Sky, or Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon, which is fine for our purposes); we are the holy infant that completes the sacred trinity when we are in a sacred space. We are supposed to maintain an innocent, childlike attitude of trust toward our divine 'parents' even when we have children of our own. This path in Algonkian tongues is called tchichankweewee (tchi-chan-kwee-wee), which means 'Great Spirit watch over me.' This is the path of the heart in Algonquin traditions, very much in the spirit of the devotional or Bhakti path of yoga of India, and all other devotional paths from around the world."