Light: I have a light inside of me that is loving and wise. I’m also smart and talented, but this light is different. It’s like a special spark from God that helps me find my way in life. I love being loving and wise!
I Get Lost: Sometimes I lose sight of that light and get into a bad mood. (Just like you do!) When that happens, I don’t feel good, I don’t do good, and I blame — my sibling, my teacher, maybe you! I do not like being in a bad mood but I don’t always know how to get out.
How to Help: The greatest help to me in a bad mood is your understanding. Understanding means that you don’t freak out about or try to deny my upset. (You know I’m already frightened by it; your fear just adds.) You’re accepting. And you trust that I’ll find my special light again. You make it clear that there’s no rule on moods, just on what I do in those moods. When I feel your trust in the spark God gave me, it helps me trust in and find it, too.
Independence: Of course you intervene if I’m in danger, but I don’t want you to solve or prevent all the challenges of life for me. Feeling the pain of disappointment, conflict, or my own mistakes — coupled with your acceptance and trust in me — is impetus and space to discover that I have access to God’s wisdom, that I’m strong because God’s spark in me is strong.
You’re the Parent for Me: You don’t have to have the whole parenting thing down perfect. You can tell me, “I’m not a happy parent right now; let’s talk when I settle down.” (You’re not laying your struggles on me and I know you’re not leaving.) You can even blow it sometimes. When you show me how normal it is to lose touch with God’s special light and how normal it is to find your way back, you show me how to be human. God chose you to be my helper in the journey of life. I love learning from you.
Rabbi Henry Harris has served as consultant and coach to CEOs and Wall Street Managing Directors as well as teens, moms and dads. He is Director of the Jewish Center for Wellbeing. For info about an upcoming “Things Your Kids Wish You Knew” webinar, visit www.jewishcenterforwellbeing.com.