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Helicopter Parenting the Jewish Way (Hint: No Parental Hovering Involved)

Ilana Kurshan, author of the Talmudic memoir "If All the Seas Were Ink," is a much better parent when she's in public, she writes.

 

After all, it's easy to let your anger get the best of you when you're at home with the door closed and no one else can see you.

 

Out in the park, though, it's a whole different story.

 

"Somehow the knowledge that I am being watched enables me to hold myself in check, to restrain my frustration and anger, and to judge my kids favorably," writes Kurshan.

 

But when we're in that house with the door closed, are we really all alone?

 

"Jewish tradition teaches that we are always being watched," writes Kurshan, relating a Talmudic story about a rabbi whose deathbed blessing to his disciples was that their fear of heaven should be akin to their fear of their fellow mortals.

 

Because he knew that even for serious religious scholars, there's something a little more here-and-now, a little more compelling on some level, about your neighbor, friend or teacher noticing you did something you shouldn't have than there is about an amorphous, ever-present, omniscient being noticing the same. (Even if you pray to that amorphous, ever-present, omniscient being three times a day.)

 

After all, you may not want to be the kind of parent who screams and shouts, but in all likelihood you especially don't want to be the kind of parent who gets caught screaming and shouting by your nosy neighbor.

 

And yet.

 

"Like a parent watching from the sidelines at the playground, God watches us all the time, aware of how we speak to our children both when we are in public and when we are home alone, exhausted after a long day and willing to do or say anything just to get the kids in bed," writes Kurshan.

 

Perhaps, she suggests, we ought to think less about helicopter parenting, in which mothers and fathers hover over their children in an effort to smooth their path, and more about the presence hovering over us as parents, helping us hold ourselves in check.


READ MORE [The Forward]

 

 

 

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