PARENTING and the blessing of Shabbat, by Coty Bitton

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We, parents, know very well what is the appropriate groundwork for a positive and loving relationship with our children. Personal attention. Listen to what they have to say. Being present. Showing them that they are our most important interest. We should give our  children what they need so much: our undivided attention But how difficult is apply this idea!  How often we go to sleep knowing that we behaved during the day  in ways that, far from bringing us closer to our children, created distance between us…
Why is it so challenging?
Our hectic schedules make this mission very difficult. Even when spending time with our children, it is almost impossible to disconnect from our worries and connect with them calmly, and fully, conveying to them “Here I am. I am all yours”. Instead, our children often perceive us distracted. We can give them anything except what they need the most: our time.
There is more: In this ambitious and industrious generation our children’s schedule is also very busy. Homework, tutoring, karate lessons, soccer games, birthday parties. They have to squeeze so many activities in so little time!
Our role as parents is getting increasingly challenging: there is no time to nurture a good relationship with our children. We operate as if our only job would be to get the child dressed, fed and out of the door on time for their next activity…. and we know very well what the solution is: slowing down, treasuring the moments that we have with our children, and enjoy… and let them enjoy the closeness of a happy, relaxed parent.
Easier said than done. We try, and sometimes we even succeed. But our brains are still wired to the many obligations that we have. Our lives are too complicated and we found ourselves  always running against the clock.
But HaShem really loves us. He is our heavenly Father. He loves us at least as much as we love our children. He gave us the Tora and the Mitsvot which beyond a system of laws for our behavior are also blessings for our lives.Think about the gift of Shabbat.
Our sages described the Shabbat as the “present That Hashem gave us from His treasures”. There are many details involved in the observance of Shabbat. One of them is that we create a special “space” of rest. A Shabbat Mode (it reminds me of the “Airplane Mode” not incoming business, nor outgoing business).   On Shabbat to slow down is not a choice. To be present for our kids is Shabbat’s “modus operandi”.  The gift of Shabbat is today more necessary than ever. We walk with our children to the synagogue with our ears free from headphones. We are not allowed to take care of our daily business. We must sit and relax as if all our bills have been paid, the work has been done and the house improvements have been taken care of. We have no occupations and no preoccupations. We are worries-free.
That is the best space for a bonding time with our children.
In the Shabbat table, our family’s altar,  we communicate, we share our respective weeks, we sing together, and more than anything else,  we have time to listen to each other! All this takes place in a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere, where no TV, iPhones, or X-Box are allowed.
This is one of HaShem’s greatest gifts.Today, more necessary than ever.