Kids' Day
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Kids' Day
Mom with a View

Kids' Day

Take a moment and appreciate your kid's goodness.

by

"She can't have any cookies since she didn't help make them." "I'm leaving the dirty silverware for him to wash; he never does anything around the house." "Why is this my job?" "Why is she always leaving when there is work to do?"

Do any of these questions sound familiar? Does your imagination conjure up the exact whiny tone in which they were said? The accompanying scowl?

Children tend to fuss a lot (adults too, but it's slightly more subtle). They have a very rigid idea of what's fair (or not) and a highly developed sense of grievance. They can go from kind and cooperative to grumpy and resentful within seconds.

With all this time spent dodging fights and parceling out chores with exactitude (I don't know why this finely honed ability to divide everything evenly is of no avail in math class!), it's easy to forget the good.

It's too easy to focus on the kindnesses they don't do instead of the ones they do.

It's too easy to focus on the ways in which our children fall short instead of the ways in which they rise to the occasion. It's too easy to focus on the kindnesses they don't do instead of the ones they do. Those we take for granted and think they're just fulfilling their responsibility as members of this household.

I don't think any of us would respond well to such an attitude.

When children used to say to their parents, "There's Mother's Day and Father's Day, when's Kid's Day?" the standard response was always "Every day is kids' day." But is it?

In the sense that we all give to our children, it is. But perhaps in our ability to appreciate and express what they give to us, it isn't.

I was struck by this idea recently (and by my own lack in this department) when someone suggested to me that making Shabbos and having guests was so much easier for me because I have so many helpers.

My first reaction was "Are you kidding? Helpers?" Between homework demands and shopping demands (the latter being the stronger pull), who's around to help?

My second reaction was, "Okay they help but they are also so much work -- physically, emotionally -- that the least they could do to compensate for all this extra effort on my part is to help."

My third reaction was to be embarrassed by my first two and to really stop and think about all the ways in which our children help out. All the ways which perhaps I take for granted, which I neglect to express my appreciation for.

So, for my kids, for our kids, this one's for you. For driving carpool whenever asked (even if they do it because they'll take any chance to get behind the wheel -- especially to pull into the school parking lot -- it's still a kindness). For driving their younger siblings to play dates and parties and school functions. For driving to the grocery store for that one forgotten item (do you detect a theme here?). For babysitting on demand (if no one else is around to do it and they didn't have to do it the last 3-1/2 times). For stuffing all the envelopes for their sister's wedding. For making the chicken for Shabbos (the kind they want). For doing homework with their brother or sister (how could they be expected to do their own as well?). For running to get me and their father whatever we ask for (and hoping that we'll do the same in return). For taking pleasure in each other's joy (when taking a break from the fighting and resentment!).

Our children are really wonderful. And although once in a while we need to gently nudge them towards improvement in certain areas, we need to really focus on and appreciate their goodness. And we need to tell them. Very specifically. Very clearly. Very lovingly.

The days speed by in a whirlwind of errands and demands, of meals, laundry and homework. We're frequently frazzled and impatient (we frequently have good cause). But in the middle of all the chaos, it takes a brief moment to turn to our children and say, "Thank You." Here's looking at you kids.

Published: May 12, 2007


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Visitor Comments: 5

(4) Carmit C., January 18, 2011 10:36 PM

Am I a terrible Mom for Not Looking at my Kids Good Side?

I read the article and was horrified of how I view my children as chores, assignments I need to check off: lunch, play, dinner, shower, and thank G-d: bed time. Their bed time is the beginning of my "real" life. Their leaving for preschool is when I start to breath in the morning. Why is it like that? When will I start enjoying my kids even though they are way too young to drive to the supermarket (or even walk there), and even though they are way too young for any other help around the house (when thy help it means more work for me). I would like to read an article about appreciating just having our kids around, just loving and appreciating them without their help around the house.

Anonymous, June 21, 2011 2:56 PM

joy of toddlerhood

Hi. I only have one 14 month daughter who is running around but not talking yet so that's my only experience. its probably different with older/more kids but here's my take on it.- I'm a stat-at-home mom and yes "clean up" takes much longer with her "help" but yet I make sure she helps anway. We sing the clean up song and do it together-many times a day-I find it exciting to see her become a person who understands concepts such as we put away our toys, we throw away our garbage....I feel like I am teaching her important skills that will serve her so well in the future and that's a great feeling. As is when I teach her about the world from showing her the garbage trucks to teaching her how to gently pet animals. I love to see her huge grin when she accomplishes something- even something we adults take for granted like climbing on the couch by herself I don't know how old your kids are but you'd be surprised how young kids can start helping if you'd let them. I already see with my daughter that she really wants to be helpful- she wants to bring me the couch pillows when I'm cleaning the couch etc. Over time they will become skilled enough that you will actually find them helpful. The trick is find things that are age appropriate for them to do so that they feel productive and not frustrated.

(3) Judy Stein, June 7, 2007 12:20 PM

Attitude

Thanks for the helping me refocus! It all boils down to our attitude, I guess, though we can use the reminder.

(2) MARLENA, May 15, 2007 5:25 PM

I THINK IT IS A GREAT ARTICLE!

HOW WOULD A BUSY MOM AND DAD TEACH THE LITTLE ONE...6YRS OLD....THAT SHE HAS TO HELP OUT BY COOPERATING AND LISTENING AND NOT STARING HER PARENTS DOWN AS THO SHE IS DARING THEM TO DO SOMEITNING TO PUNISH HER? tHIS IS AB EXTREMELY SMART CHILD AND SEEMINGLY KNOWS WHAT SHE IS DOING.

(1) Anonymous, May 15, 2007 5:47 AM

kids & the car

Great theme in this article....however you speak alot about kids who are old enough to drive...let's just say you had kids all under the driving age....now please write your article!!!!! But all in all we should try to look at their attributes & their innocent way of looking at the world!!! Thank you!

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