Parenting is a lifelong process and there are no rights and wrongs. It’s a journey where you not only are responsible for raising other human beings; you are also on a journey of self-learning. No matter how many books on parenting you read, there is no set rule of raising children that gives a surety that your child will grow up to be a decent human being and an intellectual one at that.
Jewish parents on the other hand do not need to read many books on parenting or visit psychologists to help raise their kids. Their kids are generally not only amazing human beings; they are also geniuses in their own being. Here are ten things a Jewish mother does which might be the secret to being successful mothers.
Growing up to be independent individuals is a key characteristic of Jewish children. It is a major personality trait found in most Jews and is may be because of the mere fact that Jews teach their children they can do anything by themselves as opposed to children being taught they can do anything. The small difference of being able to do things by one’s self as opposed to being able to do things helps raise independent children that are not looking for others to help them realize and achieve their goals and dreams.
They take responsibility for themselves and their actions and do not sit around waiting for others. They get down, pull their sleeves up and get to work. They do whatever it takes to get things done and that is what makes them such amazing individuals!
Nothing is difficult if you try
We often see parents telling their young that they are too young to do something and proceed onto completing that task for them, such as tying shoe laces or clearing the table after dinner. Jewish parenting makes use of the mantra, try, try again, until you succeed.
If a child can’t button his shirt up, the mother would not grow impatient and tell him that he is too young to do so as she unbuttons and properly buttons it up for the child. The Jewish mother would sit by the child and guide him. Have him unbutton the shirt, then explain the right way to do it, but she will let the child do it herself. She would patiently sit by him, for as many tries as it takes until he gets it right.
There is a saying the Jewish elders use, ‘Kol haschalot kashot’ which means ‘All beginnings are difficult.’ They believe that after difficulty there is ease and so they are they help their children grow to be strong individuals who do not shy away at the first signs of difficulty but keep on going ahead, facing and braving every difficulty they face.
A child when treated with respect will learn to give respect. Psychologists say that children just want to be treated like everybody else. What is the foremost thing in any relationship? It is trust of course. This is the greatest reward anyone can give or get, trust. Jewish parents know this all too well and use this to validate their children.
When the child wants to help around the house, they won’t overshadow every move the child makes or point out every small mistake they do in the process. They tell them the basics, take the necessary precautions such as keeping the sharp objects away from them and let them be. They believe the child not only will learn better with trial and error, he or she will also know and respect the trust the parent has shown in the child. This helps raise self-aware and confident individuals who learn to respect those around them.
Personal development and growth
While most parents focus on the outer presentation of their child, Jewish parents focus more on the inner growth and development. Instead of focusing on ensuring children in pristine conditions, much like those in commercials or the porcelain dolls adorning shop displays, they let them roll around in the mud, jump puddles, splash in the rain and come home with their knees stained in grass!
Jewish parents do not believe in restricting their children’s personal development just because they won’t look pretty or that they will come across as unruly with the disheveled hair after the climb in the tree. They focus more on their physical and mental wellbeing as opposed to their physical appearance. Appearance is temporary, personal development and growth is an ongoing process that will last a human’s entire lifetime.
Children will be children
Children will be children. They see adults do things and they try to imitate for parents are their immediate influencers. If they see you doing dishes one day, and the next you walk into the kitchen to an over flowing dishwasher, would your first reaction be of a harsh comment at your child’s enthusiasm? If you are a Jewish parent, it most likely won’t be.
Jewish parents believe in overlooking the mess their children create while putting their heart and soul into simple actions such as making breakfast, or ‘cleaning’ the dishes. They ignore the specks of soap all over the floor or the kitchen counters covered in flour. They look at the intention behind the mess and appreciate the fact that their children are thoughtful little human beings who believe in helping around the house and surprising those around them to make their day.
Letting the energy flow
Children have hordes and hordes of energy in them that they have to expend! Keeping all this energy inside is not only potential un-utilized, it is also going to negatively impact the child and may cause issues in the present as well as the future.
While most parents are tired of their children playing around, running, making things, climbing trees, scaling gardens, chasing after butterflies, Jewish parents not only encourage such activities, they also oversee them. They do so to ensure their child stays safe while enjoying life as well as to be the perfect audience to encourage them when they need encouragement, to applaud when they achieve small feats such as climbing the fence, or putting the bird feeder in the tree’s branches.
Jewish parents grant a lot of freedom to their children to develop and learn from their surroundings and their own actions. They look at the torn jeans from yet another skateboarding fall as the mark of a great athlete in the making, someone who isn’t afraid to try and does not give into failure, someone who keeps coming back to reach their goal despite setbacks.
However, there are limits that need to be put into place in order to teach the child right from wrong, which is something Jewish parents do not take lightly. One of the most pertinent rule in any Jewish household is respect for the parents. Shaving your eyebrows or dying your armpits blue will not incur much of a reaction save perhaps a stern look, however, if a Jewish kid makes the mistake of being disrespectful to the parents, he is in for a punishment to remain with him for as long as he lives.
Lead by example
The young are taught to respect their elders including their parents from an early age. They know that their parents are the maintainers of the house and are the leaders at home. That they have great experience and are wise.
They understand that their parents are also busy and so they are known to take initiative and instead of running up to their parents for every small thing, they learn to get things done on their own. It also instills a confidence and can-do attitude in them and they are not dependent on anyone for they believe in themselves and their ability to do things.
We often see parents enforcing self-control by taking things away from their young ones as a means of teaching them the proper etiquette and code of conduct. Jewish parents do not conform to the ideology of conformity due to fear. They believe in instilling in their children the ideal behaviors expected off of any human right from the beginning. They set rules in place which they logically explain their children the importance for and reason with them to make them understand. It is then that a child will truly learn and practice self-control.
A Jewish child would not make a mess on the wall not because he is afraid of a spanking in the aftermath, he would rather not do it for he understands that the time his parents would put into cleaning it up is time they could spend together and do something fun as a family. He further understands the importance of wastage and how it is undesirable to destroy not only perfectly good and possibly long lasting crayons, but have a displeased parent.
In today’s world, most parents tend to be too busy with their own lives and are barely half attentive to their children and would rather check the work email then spend a few minutes excitedly examining the master piece their child brings to them such as a bead necklace clumsily tied together or an illegible scribble.
Jewish parents however believe in giving full attention to their children and you would often see them squealing with joy and jumping with excitement alongside their young ones as they proudly showcase their newest marvel! That loopy stringy bracelet will adorn a Jewish mother’s wrist so that her child feels appreciated. They believe in reaffirming and boosting the young one’s confidence right from the start.