16 Sivan 5779 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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Proactive Parents

A parent must be proactive; not in living the child's life for him, dictating or dominating, but in monitoring and knowing what's going on in their child's life…


Laissez-faire might be a fine attitude for politics, but it doesn't work for parenting. A parent must be proactive; not in living the child's life for him, dictating or dominating, but in monitoring and knowing what's going on in their child's life.


Parents must be fully aware of what their children are doing. I've often seen children act like terrorists in the synagogue, having been given free reign by their fathers. A child must have proper direction. It's preferable for a father to watch his child and even refrain from praying than to be praying and have his child disturb dozens of other people.


Don't confuse love with spoiling. Spoiling is the result of a lack of borders and proper direction; this destroys a child's character. We must give our children loads of warmth and attention, but establish firm borders and guidelines. A child must feel that he's important to his parent; as such, we should turn off cellphones during our quality-time sessions with our children.


The time to build a great relationship with one's child is when learning with him and helping him with homework. Patience and understanding are the key words. If a parent exhibits impatience, the child will feel that the parent doesn't want to be with him.


A father who reviews a son's Torah learning with him has an excellent opportunity to teach his son love for Torah by showing him his own enthusiasm. Especially, if a father shows his son that every time they review a certain passage, they'll find nuances, the son will learn to happily review and thereby retain what he learns.


The Gemara tells about Rebbe Preida, who had to teach a student a particular passage of Torah 400 times for the student to understand and retain. Once, when they began to learn a new passage together, some people came to summon Rebbe Preida for an important matter. When they left, he resumed his studies with his student. After having reviewed the passage 400 times, the student still lacked understanding.


"What happened?" asked Rebbe Preida.


"I was afraid that you'd get up and go with those people," said the student, "so I lost my concentration."


"No problem," said Rebbe Preida. "Let's start over again..." He taught the student an additional 400 times, until the student finally understood.


Rebbe Preida's patience and his dedication to teaching a boy with a simple mind made a prodigious impression in the Heavenly Court. A voice from Heaven asked Rebbe Preida, "What do you prefer, another 400 years of longevity or Gan Eden for your entire generation?" Rebbe Preida chose the latter option. As a reward, Hashem granted him both, and he lived another 400 years!


Anyone who reads the above story in the Gemara (Tractate Eruvin, 54) is astounded: where did Rebbe Preida get such patience? Imagine how much he could have accomplished on his own, as a holy Talmudic sage, instead of "wasting" his time on a simpleton who required 400 reviews to understand just one passage.


The answer is that Rebbe Preida had such a love for Torah that the many reviews didn't upset him. And, he had such a love for all of Hashem's children that he couldn't stand the thought of even one of them not being able to learn.


Rebbe Preida's love and patience is a guiding light for all of us. Each parent would be well advised to assess him/herself in this area. Let's not forget that we can only succeed as parents if we desire to be parents. Parenting is our main task in life. Let's not farm out our responsibilities to such babysitters as the TV and computer games; our children are too precious for that.

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   See More Articles By Rabbi Shalom Arush
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