Dear Dr. Yael,
My husband and I have a wonderful marriage, Baruch Hashem. I know that people complain a lot about spouses who come from such different families. Let me portray how vastly different my husband’s family and mine are. Frankly, my husband sometimes complains that he is quite jealous of the heritage that I come from, since his family is super simple and financially living within a very tight budget. In contrast, I was raised in a home that my father was quietly active in many tzedakah organizations. We decided to write to you, a little about my upbringing and how my father built my resilience. It is our fervent hope to convey to your readers what an impact parents can have on their progeny.
I was raised in a very sheltered, ultra-orthodox community. My home environment was a calm and happy one. Being raised with many siblings was a blessing. My father instilled in us core ethical values such as integrity, kindness, sensitivity, spirituality, and resilience, amongst many others. My esteemed father modeled resilience and embedded it into my psyche, already at a tender young age.
My father was well liked and popular and held in high esteem by his colleagues, friends, and family. He helped pay for a synagogue in its early years, and helped found Tomchei Shabbos in his community. Our home was a revolving door for many individuals who had no place to go. This continued for many years until his business took a turn for the worse. Despite the financial hardships, his strength of character, and the resilience my father displayed strikes me until today. With perseverance, he continued to invest in other businesses.
After a significant event, my family went through a very challenging time. I was a teenager during the period that my parents struggled financially. Despite it all, my father remained strong and resilient in the face of adversity. My parents married off four children in less than two years, in dire financial straits. I was merely fourteen then, but what remains etched in my memory is the effort he invested in plowing forward. He emerged from this crisis courageous, weathered the challenge, and grew spiritually. Despite many setbacks, he continued his efforts to rebuild his business.
At the time as a young child, my family’s financial and emotional situation felt unbearable for me. However, as an adult reflecting on those challenging years, I can see that this was the beginning of my growth and has shaped me into who I am today. Those crucial years planted seeds of resilience for the challenges I would experience in my twenties after my father’s stroke. I am forever grateful to my special father for modeling resilience in my formative teen years.
There is a famous quote, “The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It is the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds, rains, and scorching sun.” My father was challenged with thunderstorms, hurricanes, and mighty winds in his personal life. However, he emerged optimistic, remained loyal to his beliefs, and became admired by his community, beloved family, and countless friends.
Rewriting this experience reminded me about the resilience that still exists within me today. It crystallized for me that I attribute my inner resilience to my father. There is a famous quote, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal, it’s the courage to continue that counts.” This quote became a mantra that guides my life. The courage to continue is precisely what I do each day, plowing forward painstakingly. I try to remain emotionally healthy, happy, and resilient each day, anew for my husband and children.
The message I want to leave your readers with is the following. The story of my youth left an incredible impact. Parents, we have tremendous power; we can rise above our challenges and bestow our progeny with a tremendous gift, the gift of resilience.
Thank you for your beautiful letter about the resilience your father built in you as an adult today. In our challenging times we all must be resilient and have a positive attitude in spite of all adversity. I wish continued hatzlacha in your journey in life and hope that you build resilience in your children’s lives.