Take off that SuperMOM Cape

Take off that SuperMOM Cape

“Eema, I’m afraid.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, honey…Nothing at all…Eema will make everything all better.”

In this week’s issue of Mishpacha Magazine, psychotherapist Rabbi David Hochberg wrote something that hit very close to home for me, and I’m sure for a lot of readers. He explained that as parents, seeing our kids struggle terrifies us. The moment something is difficult for our children, too often our immediate reaction is to fly onto the scene with our Supermom capes on and swords waving in order to solve the problem for them.

This is the parenting equivalent of helping a butterfly out of it’s cocoon, and thereby crippling it for life.

The better, more educational approach, he explains, is to provide our children with the guidance they need in order to independently cope with and overcome the inevitable struggles and nisyonot that life sends and will continue to send their way throughout their lives.

Here’s what Rabbi Hochberg writes:

…Are we comfortable with the process of struggling?

I’ve noticed something interesting. Many people are afraid to expore their children’s struggles, much less their own. Instead, as soon as they become aware that their children are having a difficult time, they quickly focus on the solutions rather than on the struggle. It is almost as though it’s taboo to admit that we can have powerful struggles. And it is even more taboo for the children to know that their parents may be struggling with the exact same nisayon.

Yet the entire Bible is replete with stories of our ancestors struggling with the nisyonot and temptations of This World…

Do we show our children how to struggle? Do we share our own personal stories, victories, and defeats with them, showing them how to deal with being human? Imagine the impact if we say to this child, “[This] is such a difficult challenge—I often struggle with it myself. In fact, it happened to me this week. Let me share with you what happened and what I did to deal with it…”

Acknowledging our own struggles to our children (age appropriately, of course) provides them with very powerful messages. It validates their struggles and removes the shame and guilt they may be feeling. It provides important chizuk and encouragement as they see their parents working hard to overcome difficult challenges. It can give them practical ideas and suggestions as they hear what others have done…

May Hashem help you raise your children with the siyata d’Shmaya and strength to overcome any struggles they encounter, and may each successive victory propel them even further in their lives.

Related posts:

My Neighborhood Rachel Imenu: 8 Children after a 7 Year Wait
7 Things I'm Grateful For by Carine (Semifinalist #1)
What the Mother of 12 Told Me at the Party

6 comments

  1. Love this post! The struggle is what frees us. Like the little butterfly fighting to get out of the cocoon–help him and you will hurt him.

    I wrote about this, just this morning. 🙂 http://artandsciencedoula.com/2012/05/08/spiritual-motherhood-great-love-as-a-lesson-in-letting-go/

    • JewishMom

      thanks theresa, I loved your metaphor so much I inserted it into the article!

  2. partner in struggle

    I have a child with a bed-wetting issue, and I spoke to him about my childhood struggle with slight hearing impairment, which also caused me stress for not wanting to be “found out”. I, too, didn’t enjoy sleepovers (in my case because I could never catch the post-lights-out whispers and giggles so I just pretended to fall asleep immediately). He listened intently and seemed quite comforted to know that his Ima also had struggles.

  3. Hadassah

    This attitude of not wanting our children to experience failure, disappointments, struggles, is so prevalent. It is addressed in a book called “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee”. sorry I forgot the author. We do them a disservice by solving all their problems.

  4. Hmm… interesting timing. I am reading this while my toddler is busy tantrum-ing in the background. Struggles, indeed…

  5. This is great. I was just struggling with this today. My daughter has developed a fear of everything. So she was riding her bike and suddenly she freaked out and screamed that there was a bug near her. I debate this all the time. Do I run and save her, make her feel loved? Or do I sit back and act all calm and tell her that it’s ok, and she should please just ride her bike over to me?

    I guess what I got out of this post is that I should not be running to save her and I should also sit down with her and share how I used to be afraid of bugs and spiders too…

    Thank you!

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