Jewish Parenting in the 21st Century

Raising your children in the 21st century can be hard. In this modern world, most parents are busy all the time with their own careers and sometimes neglect the importance of guiding kids and imposing discipline when necessary.

Discipline is an important part of child rearing. We set limits on our children’s behavior. We impose these limits in a way that will make the kids understand the importance of discipline and responsibility. Disciplining our children also teaches them to honor and respect authority.

In Judaism, to discipline someone is to show love to them. In Proverbs 3:12 God admonishes those he loves. “Whoever God Loves, he admonishes.”

God commanded children to honor their parents. “Honor thy Father and thy Mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” Exodus 20:12. As parents, we have to show our kids that we are the authority. Allowing the kids to express their feelings and wants is a good practice to allow openness within the family but in the end, we have to show them that we are the one who make final decisions. As authorities, we have to be good examples to them. Do we observe the laws of Judaism? Do we observe Jewish customs and traditions? Do we follow God’s commandments?

When showing discipline, make sure that you are sending the right message: that you are doing it because you love them. Avoid yelling at your child or imposing rules angrily. It gives out the wrong signals to your child an in return; they might show you disrespect and rebellion. Talk to your child and explain to him why you are imposing rules or disciplining him for something wrong that he did.  Do not shout or say hurtful words. You will earn your child’s respect if you know how to respect him as a person. Never approach your child when you are at the peak of your emotions. Cool down before you deal with the situation. Judaism forbids embarrassing anyone so never embarrass your child when imposing discipline. Never shout at him in public.

Most importantly, do your responsibilities as a Jewish parent. The Talmud teaches that there are obligations that a father must do (BT Kiddushin 29a). These include providing a son the ritual of Brit Milah, teaching the Torah, and teaching a child a particular skill which will help him earn for a living in the future.

When we are confident that we are raising our children properly, we can hope that they will grow up to become a Jew that every mother and father can be proud of.

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