Happy Father’s Day

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So it’s Shabbat and that’s one of the wonderful times to look at old photos in the albums and boxes. 


Yes, this was before digital photography!


I came across this art that my daughters had given to my father and mother when they were still alive–I think it was plastered on their refrigerator for a while. 


This photo seemed to bridge the past, present, and future for me. 


My parents are gone now to Hashem–already 2 and 3 years–and I still can’t believe it. 


At the annual Mother’s Day and Father’s Day–it’s just another time of year to remember how much I miss them all year long. 


For me now, it is also a chance to be grateful for my lovely children that G-d has so gracefully blessed me and Dossy with. 


Smiles, hugs and kisses, love and caring for one another–this is what life is all about.


Father’s Day to me is not about the gratefulness of my children to me, but rather of me to Hashem and them to be blessed to be a dad and have the chance to give back to such lovely children–to the next generation that greatly supersedes me and mine!


So I’m crunched in the middle in time between wonderful parents and beautiful children and as my dad would joke, it skipped a generation (hopefully, not really). 😉 


(Source Photo: My Girls)

Does Unwanted Justify Murder?

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This sign pasted all around Washington, DC states that:

“An unwanted fetus would support a woman’s right to choose”

This means that a baby who isn’t wanted potentially grows up to be abused and would rather not have been born.

However, can anyone really say this with a completely straight face?

Sure, some types of abuse can be so terrible that perhaps death is preferable.

But other times, unwanted children become loved or at least accepted children or otherwise make great things out of their lives!

And parents who didn’t think at the time that they could do handle a child, find that they adapt or mature, and are better parents than they even expected. 

Unwanted for an unborn baby shouldn’t necessarily mean an abortion anymore than any other unwanted person in your life should mean that you can just terminate them.

We aren’t G-d and we can’t just get rid of people we don’t like or want. 

If that was indeed the case, there probably wouldn’t be many of us left in the world. 

Of course, there should be exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest, severe birth defects, or a clear and present danger to the life of the mother or child. 

Otherwise, a life is a life, and a fetus is a person with a soul like any other from the Maker of heaven and earth. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bonding and Independence

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It’s an interesting phenomenon between parents and children. 


Parents (with G-d as the third partner) birth and raise their beautiful children. 


It is in a way a thankless job that we all savor and do with love, joy, and even gratitude just to have the opportunity. 


From sleepless nights to dirty diapers, homework to honing on how to be a mensch, family outings to school trips, braces to bar/bat- mitzvahs, birthdays to sleepover parties, shopping trips to college choices, as parents there is nothing we won’t do for our children. 


Yet, the role of children is to learn and grow to be independent. Children must spread their wings, so they can function as their own adults and parents one day (and hopefully before they are 33 and still living in mom and dad’s house)!


Yet to a parent, a child is always their child, no matter how big, smart, or successful they are (and even when, G-d willing, they surpass their parents in height, good looks, and achievements).


My father used to say, “Blood is thicker than water,” meaning that it’s a harsh world out there and the family always needs to stick together.


As children of Holocaust survivors, I learned that we can’t stray to far (or far at all) from either our religion or family, because otherwise, “We let Hitler win.”


We grew up living next to my grandparents (1 block away) and later in life, we always lived right near my parents as well. 


I watched TV and ate salami sandwiches with my grandmother and doted over my grandfather who sat on the bimah in his big chair as the president of our then struggling synagogue in Manhattan. 


Similarly, my parents were like surrogate parents to my own children and regularly babysat, picked the kids up from school/camp, made Sabbath meals, and happily spent time with them doing whatever. 


My parents were always there to advise, guide, lend a hand and support…no matter the cost to them, as my father used to say, “I would go through fire for my family” and this–his devotion and integrity–I knew was the utter truth. 


In turn, I tried to be a good son and although I disagreed and fought with my parents (mostly my dad) on many issues (often religious and sometimes politics as remember them), I knew they loved me dearly and I them.


As my dear parents are now gone, and I have become (slightly) a helicopter parent myself with forever worries about how my kids are doing, I know that they need to be independent–and that (more than) sometimes means making mistakes or falling down, and hopefully getting right back up again on their feet.


It is hard to learn that as parents, in many cases, we are just spectators–not that we know everything, we don’t, but the maternal and paternal instinct is to safeguard our children whom we love and adore. 


Kids need three things to individuate successfully: stability, consistency, and safety. Absent those, you run the risk of unhealthy knotted bonding and stunted separation anxiety. 


Everyone needs to lead their own lives–we really only have one life to live. Yet, as family, we are very much the foundation and part of their inner strength for everything that follows from their determination, hard work, and blessings from Above. 


For parents and children, it is critical to balance the need for healthy separation and independence with love and bonding that is timeless.


We have to “let go and let G-d” and let our Children. 


The parents are the past and the children are the future, but we mean everything to each other. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Make People And Time Count

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So there was an article in Slate about how kids think these days.


And it’s a reflection of the adults, of course. 


When 10,000 middle and high school students from 33 schools across the country were asked, what’s more important–80% chose high achievement or happiness as their top priority vs just 20% who picked caring for others.


The kids who chose their happiness and achievement over helping others tended to score low on empathy and were at greater risk of being “cruel, disrespectful, and dishonest.”

Bottom line is that these are our values that we impart when we recognize and reward our children for things like good grades and extra-curriculars, but not for helping or caring about others. 


Pretty much, I think parents worry that their kids should be able to support and care for themselves, because that’s what’s considered our primary responsibility as parents–to make sure the next generation survives and can go on physically and materially once we are gone. 


In a way, it’s Darwinism and survival of the species and of the fittest. 


The problem is survival of our physical manifestation is not equivalent to the thriving of the spiritual being inside all of us. 


It’s not enough to live, but we have to live a good and descent life.


Our bodies wither and die, but our souls learn, grow, and go on to the afterlife. 


Yesterday, I had this freakish accident, going through the turnstiles on the Metro in Washington, DC.


The person before me went right through the gates as they opened, but when I put my pass down and went through, the gates had a glitz and closed suddenly right on my legs (and my artificial hips) and I went tumbling forward hard to the floor. 


Amazingly, two wonderful bystanders (not the Metro employees who didn’t even flinch or care) came rushing over to me, and literally lifted me up by the arms and handed me my wallet and glasses which had fallen to the side. 


One of the people that helped was especially nice to me, and he asked me how I was and really seemed to care that I was alright–imagine that a complete stranger in the Metro! 


The two people who stopped to help could’ve literally hopped right over me to rush for the train at the end of the day like everyone else, but they didn’t.


To them, caring was more important than their own time. 


Maybe I got the 20% yesterday, but it made me realize AGAIN how terrific some people are and they truly make time count–by making people count–like unfortunately many others may never ever bother to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Aging Yet (Hopefully) Always Helping Each Other

Aging

I just love this drawing of the parents and child. 


My daughter found it on Instagram and sent it to me. 


As a little kid, my wife and I used to hold her hands and swing her between us when walking (like in the above illustration)–she loved that!


Now as we get older, we still try to be good, helpful parents (not too intrusive or helicopter-like–well maybe a little), but we can certainly see a day down the line when the cycle of life goes full circle. 


My daughter used to joke (I think) about putting me in an old age home–she knew that after seeing what my mom went through there with Parkinson’s, that is truly the last place I would want to end up. 


Of course, sometimes there really is no choice when a person just needs so much care that it is beyond what the family can do any longer. 


Frankly, what I have learned is that the most important and precious thing that parents and children can give each other is…time!


So is that child in the bottom illustration helping his aging parents along or is he dragging them off to the nursing home?  Perhaps, we’ll never know until it’s too late. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal from Instagram Unlimited Knowledge)

Shockingly Hungry

Parenting

So a funny part of my personality is that I can be a little bit of a joker sometimes.


I am a study of human nature, so it can be fun just to get a rouse out of people, by doing something unexpected or even shocking. 


Today, going through the airport with my daughter, the TSA security lines were a lot better than what had been advertised lately.


As we get through and are getting our stuff together, my daughter says to me (around breakfast time now): “I’m hungry, can we get something to eat?”


So, I jokingly turn to her with a serious face on and say, “But you already ate yesterday!”


This strange man next to us, stops dead in his tracks overhearing what I said, and gives us the craziest look.


So what do I do having a ball with this?


I repeat even louder and with more emphasis, “Why do you need to eat again?  You already ate yesterday!!”


I am having to hold myself from cracking up laughing as I know this guy is listening and I almost can’t wait to see his facial expression. 


I look at my daughter who gets it and is playing along and she is also pretending and putting on a sour face like she can’t have any food today.


The guy looks like he is about to explode and say something, but decides I suppose to just make a real disgusted kvetchy face and move on.


I was sort of disappointed that he didn’t want to help (in his mind) this kid and say something like, “How can you do that–and not feed her every day?”


I would have admired him for actually caring enough to try to help and intervene for someone else, even a stranger. 


But I guess the pent up shocked look will have to surface for today’s human antics. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Take Your Family Issues To Work Day

Cartoon

So we all love Take You Child(ren) To Work Day.


It’s a great idea to bond with our children and share our work life with them.


This way they know what mommy and daddy do and also a little of what work is like. 


But one of the funny things I noticed is how uncomfortable most parents seem with their kids around them in at work. 


They have this worried and kvetchy look on their face.


They are crossing boundaries between personal/family/home life and professional/work life. 


What is at once two-faces, two distinct roles is now combined for a single day a year. 


Perhaps personal problems from home and between family members is entering the workspace or the problems of work life is evident to your close family members. 


Maybe mommy or daddy really doesn’t get along all the well with little Johnny or Rosie all the time or perhaps little Johnny or Rosie is not that perfect little kid you’ve been showing around in pictures and talking up in the office. 


Similarly, mommy or daddy may not be “all that” in the office that they come home and portray to their family about–that big management position and corner office could be just another run of the mill job and situated in a long row of cubicles deep this way and that. 


In any case, the barriers are being crossed and even if there have been no outright lies told and caught, different sides of the person that are typically kept separate and sacrosanct are converging and the alternate egos and varied personas come head-to-head.


The good news is that the organization usually gives the parents leeway to not really do any serious work when the kids are around for the day and to mostly schlep them to special kids’ events in the workplace–everybody get to meet the CEO and have ice cream?


Thus, the unveiling of dual natures and embedded conflicts is kept to a manageable minimum, if not an uncomfortable merging of work and family life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)