By Nina Sidell
Whether you are in the throes of parenting or you have already raised your children (and are relating to older or adult children), you hope and pray that you have prepared them well.
You hope you have parented well and passed down a depth of love and values that reflect that. You have nurtured, protected, guided and dispensed encouragement with the abiding love of a Jewish parent. You anticipate that as your son and daughter becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah they represent Jewish culture and family with comfort and pride.
Look in the mirror and see yourself as a parent. Ask yourself if the heart of your family reflects your core ideals and Jewish culture, or if some improvement is warranted. What action can you take to improve your relationships or impart enduring values? You have the chance, at every age and stage as a parent, to improve, heal or strengthen your parent-child relationship.
The central focus of your unique family belongs to you and those you love.
When growing up in your family of origin, you could not control or alter the mood or functionality of your home. You may have desired a different family life, and yet it is often not until you have children of your own that you can construct a new model.
In your current nuclear family, boundless potential exists to empower you and your children to build a strong connection. Reinforce positive potentials when raising children, while healing, forgiveness and closeness are ongoing. All mothers and fathers parent the best they can with the knowledge and skills that they have at the time.
Because of this, parents and their children need to love with as much of their whole heart as they can. The security of this special bond translates outwardly as time marches on. Are you building the foundation of your family relationships by instilling your Jewish values and family goals, or are you behaving or thinking in ways that tear your family down?
It can take a lifetime to establish functional, healthy and effective family relationships.
Family members grow at the rate natural for each person. Moments of family life set the stage for everyone’s future (particularly the children as they grow into adults), and foretell the relationship between parent and child, as well as between siblings. Whatever is at the heart of your family keeps everyone feeling well or feeling a sense of disease. The anatomy of each family is as inimitable as a fingerprint or a snowflake.
Jewish values emphasize a loving home and family, strong relationships, a good education, a sense of self and a Jewish identity and skills needed to flourish. Charity, kindness and joyousness, doing mitzvahs and repairing the world echo these sacred themes.
The heart of a Jewish family contains these treasured values and permeate family culture. Even with individual differences, Jews maintain pride in upholding Jewish guideposts to help secure their children’s future health, happiness and overall success.
What Jewish values do you hold dear and use in your parenting strategies?
Let’s explore possible reasons parents have children:
- To care for another, watch one’s little one grow and learn.
- To love and be loved unconditionally.
- To carry on the family name, bloodline or lineage.
- To fulfill maternal or paternal needs and dreams.
- To lead or mold someone; to perhaps control or be looked up to.
- To enjoy the role of parent, nurturer, protector, guide, teacher, child advocate, etc.
- To gain a sense of personal purpose, connection, identity, belonging and empowerment.
- To make a significant impact on the life of another.
- To rewrite the script of one’s family and childhood — to replace or replicate that experience.
- To love without conditions, deeply, fully and permanently — a lifetime bond.
- To strengthen or save a marriage or partnership.
- To experience the creation of a family unit.
- To deliberately or intentionally share love, wisdom, talents, values and one’s heritage.
- To establish a personal or intergenerational family legacy; to develop one’s family tribe.
- To receive a God-given gift and give of oneself to capacity.
Whatever events and inspirations called you to have children is at the very heart of your family. The values you hold dear and those upheld in Jewish teachings portend a loving, safe and secure attachment, a cohesive collective and a strong individual and group identity.
Is family life often happy, calm and consistently loving with mutual respect and limits for all, or is it primarily emotionally charged, chaotic, unpredictable, inconsistently loving or stifling?
You have the choice to explore family dynamics. Take charge as the family leader to support happy hearts.
You parent from the beginning of your time together up until the end of your time together. You parent in the moment, with an awareness of your past, and a vision for the future.
This lifetime relationship is different than any other in life, creating impact beyond any other. When love and Jewish values are present in the home, these precious gifts impact future generations. The heart of society is made up of individuals who, when coming together with heart-centered socio-Judaic values strengthen our world values and those living in it.
When your child or children step out into society on their own, forging careers and relationships, the foundation you provided will sustain them. Have faith in the good that you provided, have faith in God and have faith in your children’s own aptitudes and capacities to shine their own light into the world the best way they can.
Nina Sidell is an Ambler-based psychotherapist, life coach and speaker with more than 25 years in private practice. She is the author of Parenting for Life.