Fact Check

Did Mother Teresa Say This About Raising Children?

Many "inspirational" internet quotes have been attributed to her.

Published Nov 5, 2022

Mother Teresa (John Downing/Getty Images)
Mother Teresa (Image Via John Downing/Getty Images)
Claim:
Mother Teresa said in part of raising children, in part, " you will teach them to fly but they will not take your flightpath. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream."

For years, internet users have been sharing a quote about raising children attributed to Mother Teresa, a famed missionary nun and Catholic saint who worked in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. But we haven't been able locate the source of the quote. In September 2019, for example, Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli posted the quote on his Facebook page, attributing it to Mother Teresa:

Children are like kites, you will teach them to fly but they will not take your flightpath.
You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream.
You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life.
Yet in every flight, in every dream and in every life, the mark of the teachings that have been received will always remain.

We could find no record of Mother Teresa making this quote. It's not included in any round-ups we found of notable sayings by her. We searched Google Books versions of books authored by her or containing her writings ("Come Be My Light," "A Simple Path, "No Greater Love") and didn't find the quote there either.

The quote has been widely shared online and attributed to Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87, but we have never encountered an example of it being shared along with an accompanying citation that would indicate when and where she supposedly said it. It's not uncommon phenomenon to encounter quotables attributed to famous people online, but whether that person actually said them is often another story.

Updates

The claim field on this story was updated to include a portion of the quote.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.

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