(Three minute read)
Spending holidays and Yomim Tovim with our children and family can be exciting, spiritually uplifting, AND emotionally draining all at the same time. That’s the reality. Are we normal if we feel all these feelings? Yes!
Here is a social behavior story we can read to ourselves to give us perspective. Hopefully it’ll help us realize that our children are normal and that we are still “good-enough parents” despite what happens over the holiday. (While it’s true that “normal” is relative, nevertheless, we sometimes compare our children to those kids in other “perfect” families – which does NOT exist.)
Are our children okay?
We, Shlomo and Chaya, are blessed with seven lovely children. Chaim is 15, Sara is 13, Moshe is 12, Leah is 9, Yosef is 6, Esti is 4, and baby Tzvi is 7 months old. Sometimes they play nicely together, and oftentimes they fight amongst themselves. Is that normal? Yes, it is ok (as long as the fighting is not vicious…)
Of course, we want our kids to stay up for the entire Pesach seder. We therefore told them that they should shower around midday and then take a nap so that they will feel rested. Moshe, Leah, and Yosef insisted that they don’t need to nap and that they will nevertheless stay up the entire night. They might stay up and they might fall asleep at some point. Is that ok? Yes!
They might first return the afikomen before they collapse from exhaustion or they might hide it and no one will have a clue where it is because they will have fallen asleep. Is that ok? Yes! These things happen in the best of families.
On Chol Hamoed, wherever we plan to take our kids, some of the children will be excited and some will complain that the trip is “boring!” Is that ok? Yes! If, by some miracle, the kids all had an awesome time all day until 6pm, inevitably something will go wrong on the drive home, and tantrums might erupt. Is that ok? Yes! Despite that our kids had a great time, they are exhausted and their tiredness is talking.
Toward the end of yomtov, we will have done so much for our children and we will expect them to show appreciation and help, especially the older ones. They might help happily or grumpily. Is that ok? Yes! Some kids are like this and some kids are like that, and that is ok. (Despite their grumpiness, we still need to teach our children to help and contribute to the family.)
We parents will try to remember that our kids are okay despite their sometimes (and/or oftentimes) challenging behavior. Our role as parents is to gently teach, guide, and prepare them to become wholesome, competent, and productive adults. It will probably take our kids their entire childhood to learn how to grow into the adults we want them to be. Is that ok? Yes! That’s why they’re children and NOT adults.
And we will try to remember that as long as we are being good enough parents, that is good enough! Is that ok? Yes! Because good enough is good enough!
As my friend Sarah likes to wish her friends during this holiday season, “A Kosher Purim and a HAPPY Pesach!”