10 Kislev 5781 / Thursday, November 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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It’s Not Your Fault    

It’s Not Your Fault

How many of us parents suffer from one guilt or another? How many of us blame ourselves for our child’s problem? Why persecute ourselves for something we don't control?


It’s 11:30 at night and I’m sitting on the couch, stuffing my face with popcorn.


I’m so annoyed because I not only can’t stop eating the popcorn, but I’m shoveling it in my mouth like I hadn’t just eaten my third plate of dinner an hour before.


But I just can’t stop. It’s like I can’t help myself. I’m looking around the living room with folded laundry all over the couch and wondering why there’s a huge plastic bin with soapy water and scissors inside it. On my brand-new-worn-out-looking Bohemian/Persian fusion carpet.


* * *


That pause was me grabbing another bag of popcorn.

At least it’s only 100 calories per bag. Not that I count calories. I’m the anti-calorie counter. In fact, I count them backwards. Then multiply by 20 and take the square root and add 2% for commission.


And so what if I just grabbed the Costco-sized bag? It’s not likely that I’ll finish the entire bag. Maybe half. I do only have one stomach, after all.


But I just Can’t. Help. MYSELF!!!!






That’s it. I’ve decided. It’s Hashem making me eat the popcorn. Definitely not my evil inclination, ‘cause I don’t have one.




Isn’t is so frustrating when we try not to do something, but we can’t help ourselves? Or vice-versa? Or upside-down and backwards?


Sometimes the result is the result, no matter what we do. Or don’t do.


So I realized. The same goes for our kids.


How many of us parents suffer from one guilt or another? How many of you blame yourselves for your child’s (fill in the blank problem)?


You think it’s your fault your kid didn’t turn out the way you had hoped? He’s not religious? He doesn’t go to Harvard and isn’t a big-shot doctor, lawyer, and accountant? He has a serious problem and you’re not sure how it turned into that?


All day long, it’s in the back of your mind. The guilt. The frustration. The feeling that if you could do it again you’d do it so much differently.


The sickening feeling that you’ll never get that chance.


Well, guess what.


I’ve got news for you.




Ya hear?


It’s not your fault.


Assuming you are/were a decent parent and didn’t abuse or traumatize your kid, this one little realization can literally save your life.


It’s not your fault.


It’s not your fault that your kid is not on the path of Torah. It’s not your fault that he’s dating when you taught him otherwise. It’s not your fault that he’s overeating. Drinking alcohol. Smoking. Addicted to gaming. Doing drugs. Getting in trouble.


Whatever it is, however your kid shattered your dreams for him, one of the most difficult challenges you face as a parent is to step back and realize this fundamental spiritual principle:


Everyone has their process. Everyone has their soul correction. Everyone has their #*$&@ they need to go through.


You do what you can do. You do your best. That’s it.


The results don’t depend on your efforts. The results aren’t up to you.


Every day, I watch my kids grow and change just a tiny bit more. Many times, it’s amazing and miraculous to see, but many times it’s also horrifying and disturbing, to be honest. Sometimes I wonder where in the world these kids came from.


And then I look in the mirror. And I worry for them.


A lot.


But I know, deep down, my job as their mother is to just do what I can do for them, as best as I can.


I can do my best to give them a good upbringing, a nice home with nice stuff, good food, clean laundry, decent rules, a positive outlook on Judaism, and so on.


But what will happen when they grow older… that’s not my territory.


Now I realize why Judaism puts so much focus on hishtadlut, effort. It’s because that’s one of the only things we can control. How much effort we put into something.


And nowhere do we see this concept more than in the raising of our children.


So if you’re suffering from regret, guilt, or a bloated stomach from eating too much popcorn, STOP.


Tell yourself over and over, and over again, you did your best. Your child has his process, his soul correction, and you are not responsible for that area of his life.


And I’m also going to stop persecuting myself… for eating too much popcorn.


Because I just saw on the bag - don’t panic, it’s organic! YESSS!!



* * *

Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il

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