Guest Contribution by Sharon Feifer, Community Education Coordinator, Kav L’Noar
It is midnight I have just gotten off the phone with my 18-year-old Israeli son who spent the summer in America working in a camp. Camp is over, he has a few days to visit some relatives before he leaves. We discuss the logistics of getting from one city to another and ultimately to the airport with his suitcase. Do I make all the arrangements for him, or do I insist he call all the relatives and figure things out for himself? He is 18, old enough to be independent. On the other hand — he has not spent any time in America in years — doesn’t know the geography, or the transportation systems. He has spent an entire summer in camp where he was given a lot of responsibility but every aspect of his days were scheduled for him. So I work out arrangements that I think he can handle and tell him he still needs to call the relatives himself and speak to them directly. I have been on the phone and sending emails to relatives back and forth for the last hour. I am wide awake and my mind is wandering. The conversations with my son reminded me of an approach to parenting that I read about recently- Giving your child Roots and Wings. I thought about the idea of taking care of his needs but letting go and allowing him to figure things out for himself. As I always do I related it to my work at Kav L’Noar.
Kav L’Noar believes that children thrive when there are loving and supportive adults providing a strong foundation and a sense of belonging. At the same time children need to be able to have a sense of self confidence to explore their own capabilities, and talents in a non-judgmental environment. Kav L’Noar’s parent workshops and counseling and mentoring programs provide the support to empower and encourage parents to create a sense of roots and wings for themselves and their children. We focus on building stronger individuals and families which in turn benefits the whole community.
Henry Ward Beecher: “There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children. One of these is roots . . . the other, wings.”
In what ways do we establish roots for our children and at the same time allow them the freedom to fly? What lasting message do we want to convey to our children? How do we deal with the struggle between keeping our kids attached to us, following our paths and letting them go to find their own path? Do we or do we not follow the path of our own parents and how does that influence our parenting?
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Instead of having a Kav L’Noar family counselor write about what it means to give children Roots and Wings and advice on how to do it, we decided to open up the question to the extended family of Kav L’Noar- staff members, volunteers, friends and supporters- parents of babies, parents of teens, and grandparents and ask them what they think. From our babies’ first steps, to their first day in kindergarten, their army draft day, or their wedding day our daily lives as parents are a wonderful balance of holding our children close and letting them go. How do we do it?
“One of the great ironies of life is that when our children grow through their teenage years and beyond, it is so challenging to get them to spend time with us. However, when they are younger and craving for our attention, we often are too busy, too preoccupied, too distracted, and too unaware of how important to their emotional health our time with them is.
Time with you is the greatest self-esteem builder for your children, for it sends a message that your connection with them is so meaningful to you. It allows you to get to know your children — really know them — and helps build the trust, affection, and deep personal relationship that are all prerequisites to having them confide in you and seek your guidance when they need it later in life.” Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Wishing good luck, caring teachers, good friends and success in school to this year’s students.
Kav L’Noar welcomes your feedback, thoughts, comments, and questions on parenting tweens and teens in Israel.