On Sunday evening, June 26, “Let’s Get Real with Coach Menachem” featured Rabbi Shais Taub, world-renowned speaker, teacher, and author, who shared an enlightening talk on parenting and stopping a bad cycle from our own childhood.
Coach Menachem offered the introduction to the lecture. He said that we need to create a safe place and not to blame, and to be aware of blame and guilt and to have compassion and to see what small steps we can take to change. We need to sit with an open mind. He related that we need to think about what we can do to help our students and our own children. “With small changes, we can slowly change the cycle.”
Next, Rabbi Taub taught that this is an emotionally serious topic. We need to focus to be productive. The goal is to strengthen parents who may have a sense that there is a better way to parent than what they already know. He shared that he teaches a parenting course to thousands of men and women separately. “Every time I give it, I become a better parent. That is the nature of this monumental task that Hashem has entrusted us with. We can always be better at parenting.”
You as a parent are responsible to help this neshamah that landed in a physical world. You have to give him or her formative experiences to set them up for life. We want our children to be happy and successful spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally – we want them to have good lives. Sometimes, our ego gets in the way, and we look for validation and nachas. All of us know deep down that that isn’t what it’s all about. There are better ways to receive honor than becoming a parent. We want to give our children the best possible life. Our job is to facilitate their achieving their purpose in this world.
In our relationship to honoring parents, we need to focus on our responsibilities. Your child’s mitzvah of honoring parents is between your child and Hashem. We need to focus on our responsibilities, not theirs.
Chazal teach that a father who foregoes honor that is due to him, the honor is released, according to the Gemara. The Ramban teaches that even though we were commanded to honor our parents, nevertheless it is forbidden for parents to make a yoke that is excessively heavy and demanding honor. So, the parent shouldn’t bring a stumbling block to the child and should ignore the honor due to him.
We can be imperfect children of Hashem because Hashem is our father, and He can be mochel. We see this is how the g’dolim of Yisrael taught their children. People express concern that secular ideas about being gentle and compassionate as a parent have penetrated our community. This is not true. The idea of being gentle and flexible and compassionate is authentically Jewish. It’s healthy and its nurturing and it makes our kids strong in everything, especially their Yiddishkeit.
The Chofetz Chaim said about his father that he treated us like brothers. He never spoke harshly. Everything was with love. Rabbi Taub said, “This is the way to educate children.”
Rav Gershon Edelstein called it a stumbling block if a parent is excessively hard on his child.
Rabbi Taub related, “My message is, don’t be afraid to be kind and loving and nonjudgmental. The Torah tells us treat your children with love and compassion. He explained that he is not saying to give up on teaching them. Rather he taught, “Take it easy on your kid, so you can teach him.”
Rabban Gamliel said that the best way to influence your child is through love. The way to influence and teach your children and to give them the right values and life skills is to have a relationship – a bond with empathy. The way to have real parental power and to have kids connect with you is to validate and empathize with them. Your power as their primary teacher will flourish. Rabbi Taub shared, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.” They need to feel accepted. A child needs to feel accepted.
By Susie Garber