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Are Your Parents on Another Planet?

Monday, 26 July, 2021 - 12:21 am

Question of the Week

I feel uncomfortable with the idea that G-d is always watching me. It seems stifling to think that I am under constant surveillance. I had enough helicopter parenting when I was a kid. Do I really need someone breathing down my neck all day as an adult?

Answer

I agree, the last thing we need is for G-d to be a helicopter parent. But I don't think that is what He is. 

There are three models of parenting: the helicopter, the space ship and the sailing boat.

A helicopter parent hovers around their child, correcting every mistake, shielding every threat, catching every fall. They don't allow their child to speak for themselves, take risks or get hurt. Though it all comes from love, they are not giving their child the room to grow. 

Then there is the space ship parent. They are on another planet. The children have to raise themselves. L eft to their own devices, they spend most of their time on their own devices. These space ship parents are too busy with their own lives, or too lazy or timid to lay down rules. With unfettered access to the web and the food pantry, the kids are left out in space on their own.  

To be sure, there are times when we need to be a helicopter parent, and times to be a bit like a space ship parent. When kids are very young, we need to watch their every move. And when kids have grown up, we have to give them space. But for the many years in between, we need to employ a third model of parenting. This is the sail boat parent.

Your child is sailing through the ocean of life. You need to be the wind in their sails. From a safe distance, blow them words of encouragement, give subtle advice and gentle direction to help steer the boat. The child has to navigate the waves themselves, buoyed up with the loving support and consistent guidance of their parents behind them.

G-d is our sail boat parent. He is with us in our travels. He stands behind us in our ups and downs. He keeps us company in our loneliness. He cheers us along in our challenges. He sends us strength and encouragement in our weak moments. And He celebrates our victories, big and small. He doesn't smother us, and He doesn't abandon us. He gives us everything we need to thrive. Then lets us do it. 

G-d, like a good parent, is our biggest fan.  He is not breathing down our neck. He is breathing wind in our sails.   

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Sources:
Tanya Chapter 41: "Behold G-d is standing over you, and watching you, examining your insides and your heart, to see if you are serving Him correctly."
The Rebbe explained: "G-d is by your side, watching how you behave, and He helps you do what you need to do."
Address to children in summer day camps, 13 Menachem Av 5739 - Likkutei Sichos Volume 24 p276

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