“Modeh ani l’fanecha….”
A group of moms and dads sits around a table in the synagogue library, eager to see what centuries of prayer and rabbinic wisdom can tell us about how to raise our kids. It’s the first day of parenting class, and we are squinting through our Jewish lenses. The first topic is the Hebrew prayer that greets the dawn:
As I begin a new day
I thank you God our ruler
For waking my soul with compassion.
You have great faith in me.
Privately I feel that if God has great faith in me, there are days when I question his judgment. But there is no doubt His nachas (pride and joy) is a boost to the ego.
My kids have faith in me, too. They have no idea how much I am making up on the fly.
My mother died unexpectedly when I was a teenager. My father was perhaps not the most attentive parent, especially after that. Thus, as a mom I often find myself baffled. Where do I go from here? What do I do now?
No matter your background, however, bewilderment is a given for parenting; which is why we turn to each other.
No one should have to parent alone: the task is too vast, too complex. Until very recently, the concept of solo parenting—the idea that one adult should single-handedly feed, clean, clothe, educate, and ethically guide her brood—would have been greeted with uncomprehending derision. In most times and places, parents have had lots of help, whether from family or neighbors or religious community. Today, not everyone has those options, so we build a network as we can.
It’s a challenge.
Our class chips at that challenge.
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Tilia Klebenov Jacobs is a teacher and author in the Greater Boston area. She and her husband are the proud parents of a son and a daughter. Her book, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, is a thriller whose central character is a Jewish mother ensnared in a hostage drama.
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