Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

June 14, 2020

Never Too Young To Train

This was cute!

The little boy holding his mom's hand and running around the track.

While many kids would cry and resist the exercise, this kid actually ran after his mom to go with her.

It was nice to see!

Never too young to train!

This is how excellence is born. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2020

Synagogue or Sickness?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Synagogue or Sickness?"
When I was a kid and my father would {strongly} encourage me to go to synagogue. My father was a man of deep faith and he used to say warningly to me: "It's better to go to synagogue than to the hospital." Obviously, he was implying that if I didn't follow G-d's word, then G-d forbid, he would punish me and instead of going to Shul, I would go to the hospital. Maybe not the best way to teach someone to want to go to prayer services, but I know he meant it out of complete love for me and ultimately for my best.

Yet ironically, now with coronavirus preventing us from practicing the many communal aspects of our faith, so many of us can only but wish that we could just go to synagogue to celebrate the holidays and Shabbat together once again. Unfortunately, for now at least, we don't even have the option to go to synagogue⁠—the choice has been taken from us. G-d willing, hopefully soon, we can once again go⁠—with willingness and love⁠—not only to pray at synagogue, but also to the holy Third Temple in Jerusalem itself.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 31, 2020

Children Are Our Future

There are already 32 states under lockdown orders and more surely to come.

It is good to see the children playing outside (even in smallish groups). 

It's trying times with schools closed, many parents trying to telework, and the need to take care of the children (especially the younger ones) at the same time. 

We can't lose sight that the children are our future. 

They are everything in this world. 

Even with the Coronavirus pounding away at our older and more vulnerable populations, we can still thank G-d that not many children have been infected

Even in challenging times, G-d shows His mercy to us. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2020

Hope Amidst Coronavirus

This is absolutely what I call:
Hope Amidst Coronavirus.

Life is hope. 

The children are our future. 

Love and caring is our continuity. 

G-d's is the Master over it all. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 11, 2020

Learning Hebrew: One Book at a Time

My daughter had a great idea for improving on our Hebrew language skills. 

Start small...as in children's books. 

She got a few of these from the library and it actually was fun to read these. 

Aside from taking me back a few years in parenthood and bonding as a family over these, I found it useful to solidify my learning.

Dr. Seuss definitely had the right idea. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal with attribution to book בּובי בוא בובי לך by אמי רובינגר)
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February 6, 2020

Build Others Up

I saw this in one of the student lounges at the local JCC.

It says:
"Don't Cut Down Others"

It's far better to build people up then to tear them down. 

Jut like with trees, it's better to plant a trillion trees than deforest the Amazon Rainforest. 

Trees are life and people are life. 

Be constructive and not destructive. 

Offer a nice word or compliment; provide an attentive and empathetic ear; give direction with some advice or guidance; lend a hand to someone in need; and in general, be a good influence. 

Unfortunately, too many people default to cutting down the old cherry tree! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 6, 2020

Story About Dressing Modestly

One of my good friends told me a funny story.

The friend of his daughter was wearing one of those cropped shirts which expose the belly.

She said that her dad told her to throw a party for her clothes, so that her shirt could meet her shorts.

I guess all dads worry about the modesty of their daughters.

This was a good tznius story that hammers home the point and is also pretty funny. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 10, 2019

Why Only Two, Daddy?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why Only Two Daddy?"
The father goes on to explain that these are the commandments that G-d gave to the Jews (when they were redeemed from slavery in Egypt). He enumerates just two examples: keeping the Shabbat and honoring your mother and father. The son asks, 'What are the other commandments?' The father hesitates either not knowing any of the other commandments or simply unable to remember any more of them on the spot. And all of a sudden, the little boy starts wailing to his father: 'Daddy, why do you know only two, why?'

Knowing the Torah and commandments is not only for ourselves to do what's rights, but also to pass on the torch to the next generation. It's not always easy to be good examples, but it's the challenge we all face. ;-)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 22, 2019

Take Off Those Shoes

So this was pretty funny. 

We have a sign in our house that people should take off their shoes when they come in. 

Heck, it's part of being a neat freak and somewhat germaphobic.

But of course, the kids invariably don't follow the house rules and we get the shoe dirt all over. 

And guess who has to always clean it up?  

Well the other day, my daughter was looking to purchase a condo, and when she found a place she liked, she was walking around the apartment and saying:
When I have my own place, everyone is going to take off their shoes.

Hmm, when the place is yours and you have to clean up the messes, all of a sudden the house rules are in effect and big time.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 7, 2019

No One Cares How You Feel

So parenting is not always an easy job. 

But it is one full of love and helping your kids. 

Sometimes, I remember listening to my kids say that they feel this or that and seeing that it was holding them back from accomplishing their goals.  

Often, I would tell them that the only people that really care about how they feel is your mother and father--but generally-speaking, it a tough world out there, and: 
"No one [else] cares about how you feel."

I tried to focus them--not on being cold and unfeeling--but rather on being strong inside and focusing on the tasks that need to get done. 

Sure, feelings are important, but if you are getting held back from doing what you need to do--then there are times when you need to put the feelings in abeyance and go forward. 

Overall, there is plenty of time to feel what you feel, but don't let anger, fear, or anxiety get in the way of you accomplishing your dreams. 

In a book that I am reading by Amos Oz, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," he writes: 
'I want' and 'I don't want' aren't reasons, they can only be defined as self-indulgence.

Yes, it's a little tough love, but also it is out of true love to help the kids to be willing and determined to try their best and not get held back by anything in the pursuit of the destiny they choose to follow. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 3, 2019

Best Baby Carrier Ever

This is just a great picture!

I have to call this out as the best baby carrier ever. 

What a combination between a kangaroo pouch and a cozy snugli.

Anyway, it's comfortable, fun, and good-looking.

Can't you just see your baby in this?  

(Thank you to my son-in-law for sharing this with me)
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December 30, 2018

Alternatives Are More Valuable Than Criticism

So one lesson of life that I have learned is about criticism. 

It's easy to criticize, but tough to come up with real solutions. 

Criticizing someone else, does not usually provoke a good response. 

UNLESS, you can provide a bona fide better alternative in a loving way. 

It's important to solve problems and not just create new ones. 

Criticizing without an alternative just causes anxiety and frustration in the other person. 

But when you says something isn't right and why, and provide a better alternative, now the other person can see concretely what you are talking about, and they know they have options and that you are trying to help. 

No one wants to be told they are no good or their choices are no good. 

But people don't mind and perhaps may even embrace being told that there is even something better for them out there.

Don't criticize, instead give alternatives that are good for the other person. 

That's real love without being a jerk. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 9, 2018

The Dark Side

Thought this was a fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal's Review Section called, "The Dark Triad and The Evolution of Jerks."

Antisocial Personality Disorder is where people exhibit three primary symptoms:

1) Narcissism - Excessive focus on oneself.
2) Machiavellianism - Manipulating others for one's own gain.
3) Psychopathy - Overall disregard for others, including impaired empathy and remorse

Together, these 3 traits make up "The Dark Triad" or perhaps they  come across as being from the dark side, because of how badly they can treat others. 

Studies have shown that these three traits are positively correlated with one another, and that more than 10% of the population has these. 

In reading a little more online at WebMD, I learned that the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is that while they share similar traits, a psychopath typically acts as if they have no conscience, while a sociopath acts with a weak conscience. 

"At worst, they're cold, calculating killers," while at the less extreme, they may be okay with hurting others to get what they want. 

- Moreover, while "psychopaths are more cold-hearted and calculating," sociopaths are "hot-headed" and "act without thinking how others will be affected."

Another study found that people with these traits often "experienced low-quality or irregular parental care." Thus a harsh or unstable childhood may cause these symptoms. 

Whether these people come from the dark side, are going to the dark side, or just are scary and hurtful, it is important to be able to recognize who you may be dealing with.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2018

Training Them To Be Like Us

So I saw this in the supermarket. 

This kid was pushing the shopping cart with groceries in it. 

And a little sign at the top that says:
Customer in Training

His mom is nearby with the big shopping cart full of even more groceries. 

It's interesting how we teach our kids to be just like us and at the same time to be not like us. 

They emulate some things and they reject others.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

But no two apples are the same either. 

Teaching is an important component of parenting and schooling. 

We need to impart important lessons from the past, so children don't have to recreate the wheel in the present and future. 

But spitting out little clones is not helpful to innovation and the engine of "what's next." 

Sometimes, I envision that there is a really big war--maybe World War III--nukes are used and all our bits and bytes are wiped out, and we are thrown back to the Stone Age. 

All the teaching is evaporated in the vapor of the blasts.

All that's left in what's in the soul of the remaining. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 19, 2018

Impact of Hyperwork on Family

I am seeing this all the time now... 

Parents of little children, or even older children, who are too busy working to pay much, if any, attention to their families.

Call it a disease of the industrial revolution + information technology. 

Whether people worked on the assembly line making widgets or nowadays on the computer and smartphone answering their bosses and colleagues compulsively--it's become a global obsession. 

On one hand, with the impending robot and AI revolution taking over jobs, people need to be grateful to even have a job to earn a living for the families.

On the other hand, with the connections to each other and our work 24/7, the depression-era saying of:
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Has morphed into:
Brother, can you spare some time?

Yes, we all need to be responsible adults, earn a decent living and pay our bills. 

But in the end, it's not money or things that we give to our families that is the most important.  

I would argue money and things are the least important, and what is truly most precious is the love, time, and attention you give to yours. 

As the old saying goes:
Money can't buy love.

But time and attention given to your loved ones can build meaningful relationships that last a lifetime and beyond. 

Yes, of course, people need to work to earn a living and productively contribute something to society, but it is also true that work is used as an excuse to run away from parental and familial responsibilities. 

It's easier to give an Amazon gift certificate or a Gameboy then to actually spend the afternoon with the kids. 

These days, people say ridiculous things like:
I love going into the office to get away from home.  

But you can't run away from your problems at home--you need to work on them and solve them.

The diabolical murderous Nazis used work as a tool to enslave, torture, and exterminate their victims as the sign over the gate of the Auschwitz (and many other) concentration camps read:
Arbeit Macht Frei  (or Work Sets You Free)

But as we all know inside, true freedom is being able to give generously from your time and effort to your loved ones, and slavery is not being able to let go of your work. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 17, 2018

Today is Father's Day

What a beautiful Father's Day card from my daughter. 

Also, the message she wrote to me inside was so thoughtful and mature. 

It is wonderful for me to see her grow up to be such a lovely young lady. 

The cover of the card:

"Father:
Neither an anchor to hold us back, 
nor a sail to take us there, 
but a guiding light whose
love shows us the way."


As parents, we certainly don't have all the answers either for ourselves or certainly for our children. 

And frankly, the kids don't want us to tell them what to do or how to do it. 

The best we can really do is to be there for them--to spend time with them, to support them, to show them we really care, and to provide perspective, balance, and faith. 

I used to love going to my parent's house even if just to lay on the couch and feel the comfort of being "home" and with them. 

I didn't have to think about what I did or said--I could just be me, and they loved me for that. 

Now, I want my home to be that for my kids. 

Even though they are adults now, they know we are always here for them in any way that they want or need us. 

Our home is always their home. 

Our love is always surrounding them. 

My father used to say, he would go through fire for his family, and I always knew he meant it. 

I could count on him for anything.

I miss him always, and especially today, Father's Day. 

But I can carry on his fatherhood to my children and try to be a good dad--there, and loving and giving--no bounds, no expectations, no judgment--just love, plain and simple. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day

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)
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March 10, 2017

Does Unwanted Justify Murder?

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)

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December 15, 2016

Bonding and Independence

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)
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November 16, 2016

Make People and Time Count

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) 
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