As we celebrate our nights of Chanukah, many parents shower their children with presents. Many end up lost, pieces are quickly broken or forgotten.
More than anything we could possibly buy are the gifts that remain and impact our children for life.
Children crave time with us. They thrive on positive attention. And when they feel overlooked they’d rather have negative attention than none.
We fill their space with toys and gadgets instead of moments together. Do we ever get down on the floor to enjoy the games we bought?
Parenting is about more presence and less presents.
I recall arriving to Israel when one of my married couples lived in Yerushalayim with their young children. I shlepped a huge box containing a kitchen play set inside. It was not easy. I had to have the taxi – monit driver tie the gigantic package to the roof of his cab. Together we maneuvered the box up the narrow staircase. Sweat was dripping down our faces in the heat of the day. After finally putting the kitchen set together, I noticed my grandchildren on all fours, crawling on the floor. “Bubby, we love the box! Come play hide and go seek with us!” I had to laugh. After all that hard work all they really wanted was to play together with the big box.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But there are times that a parent’s heart is breaking and a smile takes herculean effort. What a gift your smile is!
A smile means ‘I am happy to be here.’ ‘I want to spend time with you.’
Even if you don’t really feel it, give your child a smile. The first moment you see him in the morning, when he walks through the door from school, and the last moment you see him at night warm your child’s heart.
My mother would often describe arriving to the choshech of Bergen Belsen. My Zayda told her “Lichtegah kind, here you have a groysa avodah, a very important mission.”
“Here, Tatty?” my mother asked. “What can I possibly do here?”
“Here you can give people a smile. Because when you smile you give people hope.”
Zayda’s words continue to resonate. We are living in a world filled with uncertainty and turmoil. You smile will brighten your child’s life. Your home becomes your child’s greatest haven.
Attitude of Gratitude – Hakaras HaTov
When I speak to parents I explain that the spiritual foundation of our homes must be hakaras hatov – an attitude of gratitude. When we appreciate our lives and all the blessings we have been given we live life with an ‘ayin tovah’ – a ‘good eye’ and a positive spirit.
Show me a grateful person and I will show you a happy person. The key to simcha is thankfulness.
Stop the complaining. Stop the blaming.
We cannot possibly raise grateful children if we are constantly comparing our lives to others and feeling as if we come up short.
We do not choose our life situations it is true. But we can choose our reactions to those situations. We can choose to focus on our blessings and live with a spirit of joy and gratitude.
“Modeh Ani” each day helps us begin our mornings with appreciation. Instead of saying “Oy, I can’t do this,” recalibrate. Say “Modeh Ani – Grateful am I for Your blessings.” Think of three blessings you have been given each morning to start your day. Watch yourself grow into a person who sees the good. You will develop the positivity needed to say yes to life. And so will your children.
Now more than ever our children need strong roots. The world is trying to rewrite our history. They are feeding our children a legacy of shame. It is up to us to stand proud and give our children roots to endure the winds and storms that threaten to shake our nation.
Eretz Yisroel, Yerushalayim, Kever Rachel, Mearas HaMachpelah and every footstep of our holy land have been given to us from our Creator. Our fathers and mothers walked the same earth we walk upon today. The Torah describes every detail, each name, so that we know forever that this is our heritage. The Kosel has been promised to us as a symbol of Hashem’s eternal love for us. The stones are filled with centuries of tears, filling every crevice with our broken hearts.
We have traveled the four corners of this earth and triumphed over every type of persecution. We are a nation of miracles.
Teach your children to pray for our people, for our land, for shalom Yerushalayim.
I have seen too many children who have no idea what it means to truly be a child of our avos and emahos; to come from majesty and greatness. We are the sons of prophets and the daughters of kings. The words of David HaMelech open the heavens above. How tragic to live uninspired. It is up to us to transmit the passion and the fire to the next generation. The journey begins within our own hearts.
Give your children the gifts that remain burning within their hearts and souls long beyond the last Chanukah candle’s flame has gone out.