June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Those of you that have read my articles know that I mainly write about children and parenting. Having focused on many different topics, I wanted to focus this article on what I think is potentially one of the most important foundations of parenting, which is “Being a Proud Parent.” The specific impetus for this is based on my own personal story.

It was early one morning when my son Shimon ran over to me asking for a pen and paper. I saw him hurrying to write down some information. Soon enough, he told me that he had heard about a contest called Super Bowl Torah, where a shul in New York would be giving away two tickets to the Super Bowl. What were the requirements? Every participant needed to submit a Dvar Torah that combined Torah and sports/Super Bowl. This Dvar Torah needed to be written, submitted, and then presented before a panel of judges on the day of the Super Bowl. The winner would receive two tickets to the Super Bowl. Immediately, Shimon decided that he wanted to enter the competition. Bringing Shimon to the competition and watching him go through the process made me a most “proud father.”

Each stage of the process was done together with my son. The writing was not a simple task. We had discussed different ideas, looked through different sources, and looked over different sports stats. There were ideas that I suggested, which my son felt were not really suitable for the competition. There were other ideas that he strongly felt should be part of the Dvar Torah. We understood that we would need to be creative in the sources that we utilized from both the sports and Torah world. This took some time. We needed to create an opening for the Dvar Torah, one that would be catchy, funny, and have real content. As time went on, we put some ideas together and we sat down to try to write out a first draft. Beyond an 11-year-old’s day that includes homework, tests, and other things, this commitment took additional time and effort for him. For me, this was an opportunity to join with my son on something that was important and something that he really wanted to achieve. Every step of the task was done together. I was just happy to be a part of it.

The revisions took time, but finally we submitted a version to the competition committee. It was a draft that was almost 1000 words, which included Torah thoughts and sports analogies. When I pressed the “send button,” I allowed myself to sit and reflect on how proud I was of my son. I saw him work on something that he initiated, was determined about, and put in so much effort and time towards. My wife and I must have told him multiple times that we were so proud of him. We were overwhelmed with so much emotion that we could not stop going on about how proud we were of his effort.

It is very difficult to describe the feeling of being proud. If one asked a parent whether he was proud of his/her child, the answer would almost seem to be obvious, “Of course!” What I learned from this opportunity is that as parents, we need to be tuned into these feelings and be aware of how these feelings become part of our hearts and minds. For me, seeing the completion of this Dvar Torah was really a gift for me. Shimon’s extra efforts, determination, and creativity to intertwine his love for sports with his proficiency in Torah (at the 5th grade level) were more than we could have ever imagined. Working on a Dvar Torah instead of playing on the iPod? Yes, the reward of getting the two Super Bowl tickets was a motivating factor, but the eternal reward of Torah and yiddishe nachas is unparalleled. My busy and hectic schedule doesn’t always allow me to stop and reflect on these moments that I can just say, “Wow, amazing. Thank you Hashem for giving me such a blessing.”

I think that the “take home” message of this story is very clear. Building attachment and connection to one’s children is important at each stage of child development. And when opportunities come up, we need to seize them. We need to be aggressive and assertive to seek out opportunities to help our children engage in meaningful (spiritual) pursuits. In times where it may be easier to allow our children to use their free time for different mundane pursuits, parents need to seek out opportunities to help children pursue Torah and chesed. This will allow for the “seeds” of Torah that they have been given to grow and develop.

To conclude the story (in case anyone was wondering), Shimon ended up with front row seats watching the Super Bowl at his grandparents’ house with a souvenir football from the competition and, of course, with very proud parents.

Rabbi Mark Staum, LCSW, is the school therapist for the PTACH program @ MTA. Mark also has a local private practice where he specializes in working to strengthen the parent/child relationship. Mark also specializes in helping children utilize stress management to reduce anxious and mood related issues due to academic, social and emotional challenges. To learn more about Mark’s practice, please visit his website, www.markstaum.com. Mark welcomes comments and feedback about his articles.

By Rabbi Mark Staum

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles