Raising children in this day and age is difficult. There are numerous distractions and forces vying for a child’s attention: television, video games, and even their phones are distractions. Trying to maintain a religious upbringing at home on top of the distractions is nearly impossible. Jewish parents face numerous diversions in their everyday life, and it is easy to become distracted. Unfortunately, one thing that gets left behind is the connection to religion, or tradition. Without the parent making a purposeful decision to build this connection in their everyday lives, kids will focus only on academics, clubs, and other activities. As a result, they will miss a long-term value added to the family fabric and the experience of the kid.
There are simple things that Jewish parents can do to incorporate religion into their everyday lives. The following six ideas will help bring the Jewish traditions back into the home.
1. Family - Parents need to be aware how much their children look up to them. If they are practicing religion, their children will, also. Most parents will say they do not have the time to celebrate all of the different Jewish holidays. Even if it is just incorporating a prayer over meals or picking out and celebrating a couple of Jewish holidays, taking the time to teach children about their Jewish history and their life stories will encourage them to maintain their religion once they are grown.
2. Outside help - If parents think they cannot possibly educate their children in Jewish culture and history, they should take advantage of schools in the area that provide this service. Day schools will raise your children with an appreciation of their Jewish culture and secular studies. Children are like sponges, they absorb what is happening in their surroundings. If they are exposed to the Jewish faith in a way that is entertaining and enlightening, they will embrace that faith and carry it with them throughout their lives.
3. Community - Parents need to get involved with the Jewish community. There are camps and other activities for Jewish children; and the more parents are involved with their community the stronger their children’s ties will be to their religion. Jewish children should have the opportunity to explore their religion in different ways. They will learn the value of being Jewish while also enjoying their friends and surroundings.
4. Empathy and giving - Little things count. Teaching children to admit mistakes and say they are sorry will help them grow in their faith. It is sometimes difficult for a person to admit they are wrong, but if parents incorporate it into their lifestyle, their children will follow. A child will be more likely to empathize with others if they are shown empathy at an early age.
5. Books - Take the time to read to your child at an early age, especially books related to Judaism. Children will develop an appreciation of reading if their parents read to them, and will find out more about Jewish culture. As they get older, children will look around their house for things to read. Parents can be sure to have books that stress Jewish values on the shelves. If the books are there, children will reach for them.
6. Question authority - Parents should encourage their children to question authority. Children should always be asking people why something is true. Children will grow in their education with their questions. A teacher is a guide who is also still learning and growing. The Jewish faith encourages questioning what people do not understand. Jewish children should be encouraged to forge their own path and not be restricted by what others think. Parents who encourage their children in everything they do make their children’s lives happier and more fulfilled.