11 Kislev 5781 / Friday, November 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Fruit in the Mirror    

The Fruit in the Mirror

You can have discussions with them for hours on end. You can argue and philosophize. But at the end of the day the child says, what I see is what my parents do…


Translated by Chana Cohen


After thousands of years, parenting is still one big riddle to us. Anyone involved in education or parenting - and even parents to be - tries to figure out the answer to the question: what is the best strategy for parenting?


We jot down little insights and come to conclusions, we read and study and try to decipher the riddle. But then the question arises: What are we showing our children? How do they see us? Of course, we need to take into account the basic nature of the child and the environmental factors. But as parents and educators, we must accomplish the most important goal in education:  being a good example.


Before we decide what our children need to improve on, we must improve ourselves.


Before we start preaching to our kids, let’s take a good look in the mirror and see what kind of shape we’re in.


Are we exemplifying everything that we expect of them?


Are we showing them all that we ask of them?


Is our behavior, the language we use, our approach to people and to life, what we want to see in our children?


Children often learn more by osmosis than from verbal education. They are not the sum total of our opinions and expectations.


 In regards to education, our children are our mirrors.


They absorb and internalize more than they listen and learn.


You can have discussions with them for hours on end. You can argue and philosophize. But at the end of the day the child says, what I see is what my parents do. And all the words in the world won’t teach them anything if it contradicts what they see with their own eyes.


Before we ask in bewilderment, “What’s going to be with my children?”, and “Where do they learn these things from?”, we should examine ourselves and make sure we are proper role models and examples for our children.


Parents who constantly scrutinize everyone around them, their friends and their family should not be surprised when their children do the same.


A parent who speaks crudely, blames everyone for everything, and constantly makes demands - his child has a most “beautiful” role model to learn from how not to behave…


A parent who constantly talks negatively and gossips about others is modeling forbidden speech for his child.


A parent who gives praise, listens to, is attentive to, and invests time and effort in others is a beautiful role model for his child who will then go on to do positive things.


Children are not the fulfillment of their parents’ hope and dreams. That’s because children are nothing but our mirror, as we learned before.


Therefore, if a parent smiles at his child often then that child will be a happy person who smiles often.


My recommendation:


Try waking up your children in the morning with a happy smile. You’ll see what it will do for them. They’ll jump out of bed happily with a smile and look forward to a day filled with promising opportunities as opposed to burrowing deeper into their blankets and being angry that morning arrived too soon.


If you go shopping every time you have extra time on your hands then that will be your child’s go-to activity when they’re bored too. Need to kill some time? Go out and buy something. What a beautiful solution to the problem… parents who spend all of their time shopping raise children to lead similar lifestyles. Where do children learn societal norms and behaviors like this and others? They simply reflect what they see.


Verbal education can never stand up to what children see in front of their eyes. As the saying goes, “Do as I say, not as I do”...


In order to "form" children into the people that we want them to be, it is important that we examine and improve ourselves. True, there are other factors that affect the child, but we as parents have the duty to try, teach, explain, guide and prepare the groundwork with good values and a proper personal example. When we understand that our children are our mirrors, this task will be much easier. After all, no one wants to stand in front of a mirror and see that the person staring back at him is nothing special…


Before you roll up your sleeves and get down to work, it’s worth your while to read the amazing book by Rabbi Arush about the most fascinating subject in our lives – The Garden of Education.

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