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Home » Chayei Sara, Education, Family Life

Chayei Sarah: Good Parenting

Submitted by on November 1, 2012 – 1:01 amNo Comment | 2,975 views

‘Like’ Me

Do you like friends or love them? I don’t mean Facebook liking, I mean real life liking. Well actually, Facebook has it right. You like your friends; you don’t love your friend unless it’s a very special friend. You love your parents, the question is, do you also like your parents?

In some ways it is harder to like your parents than to love them. You might be in love with your mother, but that doesn’t mean you want to be exactly like her. There are many things she does that you don’t like and want to do differently in your own life. You still love her, you just don’t like her. You have to be an exceptional parent for your children to like you.

One way to tell that your kids like you is if they grow up and want to live their life exactly like yours. When they like everything about your life and want to replicate it, they choose a career like yours, a home like yours, a lifestyle like yours and friends like yours. They make it so obvious that anyone who knows you need only take one look at your children and know who their parents are.

Good Parenting

Children feel a need to strike out on a different path from their parents, anything, but their father’s career, anything, but their mother’s pattern, anything, but their parent’s choices because their parents always wanted to choose for them. When children are little we must make choices for them. They are no old enough to judge whether to wear a rain coat or a winter coat and like it or not their parents must choose for them. But as they grow older they seek independence. The trick is to give them just the right amount. A little more than they need, but a little less than they want. It is one of the trickiest balances in life. How much to give and how much to withhold is a question no one can answer with certainty. We all do our best, but despite our best efforts we can be wrong as easily as we can be right because no single answer fits all children.

They key to prevent it from becoming a tug of war is to communicate respect for your child along with your love. Children don’t resent their parent’s love or their parents’ desire to make their choices. Children resent the lack of respect that they sense in their parents. When you say, “you can’t go out dressed like that” they hear “you are not mature enough to make your own choices and can’t be trusted with your own virtue.” They chafe under that message and no amount of denying it will convince them different. And with good reason because when you peel away the layers you will find that your child is absolutely right. Their truth antenna is very well tuned and where there is disrespect, they sense it.

They don’t stop loving you. On the contrary, as they mature, they love you more than when they were carefree and young. It is precisely because they love you that your disrespect stings so much. It is that very sense of “not good enough” that they set out to prove wrong, when they make independent choices. They have nothing against your career choice, but if they follow it they aren’t making a statement about who they are, they are simply following you. Choosing a path different from yours is  life affirming for them because subconsciously they feel they are validating their own existence as a mature minded and independent human being.

When your children chooses to follow your footsteps, good parenting - innerstreamyour career path and live their life the way you do, you know you did something right. Your children not only love you as a parent, they like you as a human being. You never made them feel the need to prove themselves. They always knew your confidence in them. They didn’t need to strike out on their own path just to prove to you or to themselves that they can make choices and succeed.

I hasten to add that not all children who choose differently from their parents do so to prove themselves. Sometimes children that are perfectly comfortable with their parents choose differently because they have different interests; they are cut from a different cloth. However, when your child chooses to follow you, you know you did something right. Your child likes you.

Behold She is Like Sarah

Sarah our matriarch knew how to raise a child. The Torah doesn’t tell us much about her relationship with her son, Isaac, but the Torah informs us in one sentence that she was an incredible mother.

When Isaac brought Rebecca to his home and saw that she was just like his mother, he came to love her and found comfort for the first time since his mother’s death. Isaac was married three years after Sarah’s passing. For three long years Isaac grieved for his mother and took no comfort, but the moment Rebecca came into his life he was comforted.

All his life, Isaac longed to set up a home that precisely like that of his parents. He always assumed his future wife would be enamored by his mother’s household and learn from her to set up a similar home. But when Sarah passed away Isaac grieved her loss. Not only did he grieve for his mother, he grieved for the lost opportunity to establish a home just like hers. Not only did he lose his mother, he lost the ability to perpetuate her lifestyle and continue her influence.

Who would train his new wife to establish a home like his mother’s?  Where would he find a wife willing to depart from the cnofident his mother’s charm would inspire his future wife to be just like her, but now that Sarah had passed on, who would inspire his future wife to be like his mother?

When Rebecca entered his home and behold, she was just like his mother, he was relieved. He immediately fell in love with her and was comforted for the loss of his mother. He didn’t stop missing his mother, but he no longer fretted about what would be. He knew that his mother’s influence would continue through his wife.

That is an incredible reflection on the way Abraham and Sarah raised their son. He wanted nothing more than to make the very choices they made. He didn’t only love his parents. He admired them. He respected them. He liked the way they lived and wanted to emulate them in his own life.

That is good parenting.[1]


[1] This essay is based on commentary from the Ketav Sofer on Genesis 24:67.

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