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Chabad says yes to better parenting, relationships and life

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NICOLA MILTZ

Abrahamsohn was one of three guest speakers at this event last week. He was speaking about how to “Say Yes to Better Parenting”. US guest lecturer, Shaindy Jacobson spoke on “Say Yes to a Better Relationship”, while funny man Nik Rabinowitz tried – albeit unsuccessfully – to keep it clean during his “Say Yes to a Better Life” talk.

Abrahamsohn painted a bleak picture of how Jewish parents had sadly, due to various factors, discarded their successful parenting formula of the past. The ever-changing, fast-paced world had contributed to the widening generation gap which was placing parents and children under too much pressure.

Because of globalisation and social media, parents have become increasingly anxious that their children will not be able to compete globally, which has shifted the parenting parameters.

He spoke about how parents today are obsessed with the idea of “not depriving their children” which has led to over-parenting, over-scheduling and over-indulging.

He referred to this as lawnmower or helicopter parenting, “gefilte fish parenting where the child is the fish ball and the parents are the carrot on top”, he said.

“Over-parenting comes not from giving too much, but from giving too little of what is essential,” he said.

The rates of depression and anxiety among young teenagers matched those of juveniles in prison, he said.

“Over-parenting is under-parenting,” he stressed.

On a positive note, Abrahamsohn said there were solutions.

We should “trust our intuition”, he said, and know that each child is different, requiring them to be parented individually. “What is good for one child cannot logically be good for all,” he said.

He emphasised the vital and important role of play.

 “Let them play”, he urged, stressing the need for children to “just be”; this helped foster “out-of-the-box thinking, so necessary in today’s changing world.

“Stay out of the way and let your child play… let them loose in the garden and let them be creative.”

Children today need cognitive skills, imagination and creativity and play was essential in developing these, he said.

He said it was important to delay a child’s gratification. Delayed gratification helped children to develop self-control, conquer stress and sustain effort.

“It’s not what we give our kids, it’s what we don’t give to them,” said Abrahamsohn.

“Every child wants to be a superhero,” he said, encouraging parents to “give the gift of contribution”. Parents should provide opportunities for children to contribute to the world around them by encouraging small acts of kindness and caring, like donating their toys for instance. In this way, they become the superheroes they want to become.

And finally, he said, parents should actively engage with their children on a daily basis in debate and conversation.

Be “heroic and courageous parents” he encouraged. “Do not be driven by fear or anxiety, but by a deep instinctual connection with your child, always encouraging a healthy amount of chutzpah. In this way, you can “say yes to better parenting”, he offered.

Jacobson, director of the women’s studies division at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) said: “Grab this moment to do whatever you can today.

“This moment will never come back again. Today I have an opportunity to do something, and it will never come back again.”

She highlighted the importance of communication in a marriage.

“A marriage is the meeting up of two halves of one soul – where the halves are as different from each other as humanly possible.”

It was essential to acknowledge these vast differences and this could be done by performing certain mitzvot such as lighting the Shabbos candles, abiding by the laws of family purity, and having respect for one’s partner.

She also spoke about the importance of music, love and laughter in the home and not to take one-self too seriously.

“Music and song are the languages of the soul – when you find the person you love, sing, laugh, dance and have music in the home.”

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