Nine feet of snow outside, extreme warmth inside. Over a three-month period last winter, seven of us were brought together for Parenting Your Teen Through a Jewish Lens. In each session, we explored values, studied relevant Jewish texts, and mostly shared questions and experiences in confidence. Our group was diverse in terms of geography, Jewish practice, and educational choices we have made for our children. For me, with children soon to turn 13 and 10, hearing from moms of older teens was one of the most valuable aspects.
Professionally, I often facilitate discussions, so I tend to be a highly discerning group participant. I couldn’t have asked for a more skilled facilitator in Judy Elkin, who was so familiar with the curriculum that there was never any pressure to use every resource provided, or engage in all the possible discussion questions. Under her wing, our group bonded, laughed and had time to digest our rich dialogue.
I took the course because as a working parent, there is never enough time to speak with friends or family about parenting. As we were crossing into new territory of parenting during the teen years, I wanted some support and a chance to reflect in a Jewish context. Despite work travels and lots of other responsibilities, I made it to every session, as did most of our group.
So it was no surprise that after the last session, when I wasn’t sure how to handle a sensitive issue with our son related to texting etiquette, I reached out to my classmates by email. Instant and varied feedback came my way, which helped me decide timely how to respond to our son, and in a way that was comfortable for me.
There are no perfect answers, and there is no simple path for parenting teens, but this course gave me a sense of perspective that I hope I can hold onto for the next several years, or at least until the refresher course is created!
Hilary Marcus lives in Jamaica Plain with her husband and two children, and serves non-profits as an organizational development consultant. hilarymarcus.com