A Spirit of Optimism

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m thinking about my job. A lot of what we do here is give advice, a lot of our readers are moms, and I have one child who is only 7. Many women my age have more children and have been moms longer. Sometimes I wonder how I have the chutzpah, the effrontery, to give advice, even about the Jewish educational pieces I know so well.

I’ll tell you how. I read a lot. I’m not kidding, even before I took this job, I spent a lot of time reading books and articles and websites about parenting. Because I trust books and I really, really do not want to make mistakes with this wonderful kid.

My favorite book about parenting, so far, is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. It was the only book that used the same language I had in my head about values. Reading the authors’ Nine Principles for the Parenting Journey was a relief–no one else had combined the sense that parents need to impart their values, which seems a bit on the conservative, authoritarian end of the spectrum of parenting thinking, and also that parents should trust their children, which seems a bit on the liberal, earthy-crunchy side.

The third of the principles is, “Cultivating a spirit of optimism about your children: Believing in our children and enabling them to find their own answers are two of the greatest gifts we can give them.” A lot of my job here is balancing my need to worry (I don’t think that’s only a Jewish cultural thing!) with my ability to trust people to work things out.

I believe that if I impart my knowledge and deep love of Jewish religion and culture my son will be able to develop his own relationship to God and the Jewish people. If I tell my truth about the future I want for the world, he’ll be able to develop his own vision of the future and act to make it real. I also believe that most of the moms who read our site have children like mine–you know, the kind we’ll be very proud to claim as our kids when they are adults. Happy Mother’s Day.

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