“Mommy,” my eight-year-old daughter asked, “How did you learn how to take care of babies and kids? How did you know what to do?”
What timing! It was early Sunday morning and we were driving to Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley; she was going to attend Limud Hebrew School, and I was going to attend Parenting Through a Jewish Lens with Rabbi Philip Sherman.
As all parents quickly discover, there is no parenting school or how-to guide. We learn how to parent on the job and by asking family, friends, pediatricians, the Internet, strangers in line at the market – really anyone who might have a piece of helpful advice.
And in our chaotic modern daily lives, it’s hard to “zoom out” and take a moment to think about what we’re really doing. The days are long (potty training, anyone?) but the years are short (your kids will be #adulting before you know it!). The concepts of mindfulness, kindness, peace, and joy are so popular right now, but where do you learn to infuse them into day-to-day parenting when you’re trying to figure out a smoother bedtime routine?
Enter Parenting Through a Jewish Lens. With sessions titled “Toward Joyful Parenting,” “Finding Peace in Our Homes,” and “Parenting for Kindness,” attending class was like hitting the reset button on so many aspects of my daily family life. I loved hearing different perspectives from the parents in our group as we considered how to apply ancient and modern Jewish concepts to daily parenting situations.
In one session we read the “Birkat Habayit,” (“Blessing for the Home,” a Jewish prayer of unknown origin that is often displayed in the entrance of homes) and discussed how we cultivate peace in our homes. After the laughter subsided (Peace? With kids? What does that even mean?), we discussed the role of ritual, dug into the Ten Commandments, and thought about how our parenting could cultivate peace. We each emerged from the session with a unique blessing for our homes that we had written to address our family’s particular needs.
Parenting Through a Jewish Lens allowed me to pause, read, discuss, listen, share, and consider how to become a better parent. I am so grateful to the wonderful parents in our group and Rabbi Sherman for patiently leading us through this valuable curriculum.
I’m pretty sure my daughter wanted to know how I learned how to change a diaper. If she becomes a parent, I hope she gets the chance to take Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, too!