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Thought for the Day: Two Rules Which are Four of Parenting

There is an old joke: Why do grandparents and grandchildren get along so well?  Because they have a common enemy.  Like all good jokes, there is an element of truth that is being expressed in a  novel way.   I was discussing being a grandparent with my eldest.  I said that people say that the pleasure of being a grandparent is that you can give them back.  Neither my wife nor I (nor any other grandparents we know in our generation) look forward to "giving them back".  We love being with the grandchildren even when they are crying or throwing a temper tantrum; its just so cute now.  I told her I think the pleasure is that you don't have the awesome responsibility for how this little Jew turns out.  We have made our mistakes and our children have turned out quite well, Baruch HaShem and bli ayin hara, despite our best efforts.  We defer to our children in how they choose to rear their children.  My daughter said, quite correctly, "Abba; that means you are giving them back."  Good point.  So here are my two rules which are four of parenting.  Your mileage may vary.

Rule 1: You will make mistakes.  It is inevitable.  We all try our best, putting our children first and disciplining for their sake and not our convenience.  Providing an environment with sufficient structure to develop self-discipline, but free enough to grow in creativity and become the person they are meant to be.  In retrospect, however, we realize that we made mistakes.  We did our best, but mistakes happen; we are only human, after all.  The subrule of rule 1 is: some of the mistakes are really, really bad.  Looking back it is sometimes very difficult not to feel almost crushed by the memories of what we did and the consequences we see.

That brings us to my second rule: HaShem runs the world (HRTW for those of you who like acronyms).  HaShem, Avinu sh'b'shamayim, entrusted those little souls to us.  On the other hand, He certainly would not allow us to cause real harm to them.  Every moment is under supervision and careful management.  Now for the second part of rule 2: No, really; HaShem does run the world.  Repeat that when you feel in danger of being crushed by memories of bad mistakes.  HaShem really, really does run the world and we can take some comfort in that.

We just finished a beautiful few days with my grandchildren and children in NY.  I walked in from maariv last night and heard my three year old grandson saying very proudly as he was getting into pullups for bedtime, "I don't need diapers any more, right Mom?"  Mom answered with a bit of exasperation in her voice, "Right.  You just need to figure out which way the toilet is."  I don't even want to know the details of what lead up to that conversation; that's real nachas.

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