Friday, January 29, 2016

Did you smile at your kid today?

It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day, moment to moment, errand to errand, laundry load to laundry load, dishes to dishes to more dishes... that it's easy to have the day fly by without smiling at your child. Really. I'm talking to myself here. I love my children. I love being at home with them. It's also really hard at the same time. You find yourself saying the strangest things like they are normal... get off the piano... get out of the fridge. Stop drawing on the television. Please don't disassemble the couch... get out of the toilet... stop, don't clean the bathroom mirror with the toilet brush!

It's easy to get hung up on the small things.

I try and remember something I heard from Rebbitzen Tziporah Heller many years ago. Rebbitzen Heller and her husband a"h, successfully raised 14 children. Yes, fourteen. To paraphrase what she said about raising children, what is really important is to focus on what is consequential. What is important, she said, was the children's character traits. It's easy to get upset about everything going on, but that isn't the correct way to do things. If a child is lying or hurting someone - *that* is when you get upset, to deal with something that isn't going to correct itself by the time the child is 20 years old.

Another example she used was about a child who jumped on the dude shemesh, the hot water heater, on the top of the building (because it was fun, obviously) and broke it. The mother didn't get upset - rather, she took the child to every neighbor living in that building to apologize for breaking the heater. Then, if I remember correctly, she made the child help pay to replace the heater. There was no reason to get upset. The child learned the lesson - don't jump on hot water heaters, and certainly don't break them. This is not behavior you'll see repeated again at the age of 20.

Character traits don't fix themselves. Problems must be identified and worked on. It's the parent's job to work with the child to become a better person. A child sees very quickly what their mother or father get worked up about and internalizes that. When they see us adults get upset about petty and silly things, they cannot prioritize and learn about what is most important.

It's important to not only focus on our children's character traits but on our own. The same way children notice when we get upset, they also notice when we are happy... when we smile and when we laugh. So take a moment from the mundane, a deep breath and be grateful to have the blessings that we have. Smile (and make sure they notice) at your children. It's important.

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