I am spending a lot of time learning and thinking about the Torah portions we read on Shabbat that tell the story of our roots. In the book of Genesis, our ancestors built, generation after generation, a small family — the family of Israel.
In particular these days I am paying close attention to the life of Jacob, the ultimate father of the children of Israel. His life, an endless adventure of lies, run away escapes, dreams and deals hardly aligns with the model of a virtuous and exemplary life befitting a founding father of the Jewish people.
And yet the Rabbis teach us that the lives of our fathers are a sign for their future children. What could the life of Jacob teach us?
As our children grow and turn to tweens, we often experience feelings of chaos, conflict and uncertainty. In the first session of Parenting Your Tween Through a Jewish Lens, the image of a chrysalis is brought to describe this period of transition from childhood to adulthood. What is very interesting and surprising is that inside the chrysalis all there is is goo, a formless mush.
The image of the sticky goo is evocative because it brings me back to Jacob’s life. As parents we work very hard to provide order, stability, and clear expectations for our young children. As parents of tweens and teens, however, as our relationship turns upside down, we might need to reorient. During the “goo” years, when it seems our children are the most vulnerable and confusing, we need to remember that they are growing. As parents, we also need to grow. Maybe like Jacob before us, we can walk with them into the chaos, trusting ourselves and especially trusting our kids, knowing that growth is underway.