click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Creating Through Love

Creating Through Love

Give your children the most important thing they need: your love.


Conceiving a child and raising it to feel loved is the most significant action parents can attain. A loved child becomes not only a creative, inspiring being but one who helps all living things to survive and thrive.

Think of your child as a young artist who has come to you to learn how to paint or sculpt. As a teacher you would show patience and guide and instruct the child so they can create a work of art. You would not throw out their painting or pottery but show them how to rework it and create a true work of art.

Well you have the clay, the paint and the blank canvas to work with; your child.

As a surgeon I listened to 85 year old parents complain about their kid and I had to laugh remembering they were talking about a kid who was in his sixties. We can constantly be critical of our children by using phrases like, "There's something wrong with you." Or we can let them know they are loved even when we don't like what they are doing.

I know from working with all age groups that when you ask 80 or 90 year olds whether their parents loved them, close to 90 percent answer yes; but when you ask high school students the same question the figures are reversed.

I have lived the experience with our five children so I know wounds can be healed and that if we are truly educated about the parenting experience our children will be the beneficiaries. Licenses are needed for just about every significant activity or occupation except parenting. So when the birthing classes finish start parenting classes and learn from those who have preceded you and lived the experience.

Why do we call our children's children "grand" and their children "great grand children"? Because as we grow and mature and learn what is truly important in life, we see the children as grand and great. I was born an ugly duckling and my parents hid me in a covered carriage. I survived because I had a grandmother who, to quote my mother, "Poured oil over your body and pushed everything back where it belonged many times a day." I didn't have to find my own beauty, as the ugly duckling did, because I had a grandmother.

One teenager I know said she was staying at her grandmother's house and there were no full size mirrors for her to look in before she went off to high school. When she complained to her grandmother, her grandmother said, "Come over here and look into my eyes and you'll see how beautiful you are."

"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer."

The opposite of love is indifference. So the child who feels unloved and drives you nuts gets your attention, while the angel often feels unloved because no one pays attention to him. As one of our children said, "I don't get 20 percent of your time." I explained his brother drove us nuts and got 40 percent. I admire the fact that he felt comfortable confronting his father with those statistics.

When siblings are born one or five years apart there is little rivalry. So apologize, as I have, to our kids and help them become a family. Our children learned that love and appropriate anger can exist together. Make magic and do things as a family every week. It can be eating out, going skating, visiting a museum, whatever; just make it an activity that allows you to interact and not sit staring at a TV set or a movie screen. When you do the latter have a session in which you all discuss your reaction to what you saw and learn from each other.

Emmet Fox wrote, "There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble; A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all."

A young woman I know whose parents are alcoholics started saying to them every morning, "I love you." They never answered her. After doing this for three months she ran out of the house one morning late for school. Her parents were in the street yelling, "You forgot something."

"What did I forget?"

"You didn't say I love you." Their healing began.

June 23, 2007

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, June 28, 2007 2:14 PM

love is not always enough

We are raising our children to love each other as much as they love us. We pray every day that they will be friends. It is so sad when siblings aren't friends. Love may not always be enough to be friends.

(4) chana Sharfstein, June 27, 2007 5:59 AM

Acceptance and love are crucial in building self esteem

Dear Bernie, We all know that everything in your article makes sense however it is important to review these basic facts of healthy childrearing. Years ago the IQ was a very popular topic but today we focus on the importance of the EQ, the emotional quotient. We all need to have a sense of selfworth and only then can we lead happy fulfilling lives. Numerous research studies have proven that individuals who feel secure and accepted mazimize their opportunity to utilize all their talents and abilities. Being the smartest intellectually does not assure success. Knowing that one is loved, that is the source of our strength. Parenting is a very challenging responsibility and it is essential that we use our sensibilities and strive to be the best influence possible. As a grandparent I very much appreciated your positive comments of the value of love of grandparents. Unfortunately my generation was deprived of grandparents basically because of the devestation of the Hitler era. Fortunate indeed are the youth of today who have the great zchus of having grandparents and great grandparents. That bond is of uppermost importance in the development of the psyche. Being loved unconditionally is surely the prevention of many difficulties that teenagers encounter. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Grandparents- stay in touch with your grandchildren. Give them that extra essential portion of LOVE.

(3) Katherine Spitz, June 25, 2007 4:58 PM

Trilled to see this author

I am always so happy to see esteemed physicians and mental health experts write for Jewish websites. I have long admired Dr. Siegel's works, and am glad that he is a "a member of the tribe."

(2) Anonymous, June 25, 2007 5:18 AM

Very Interesting Article

I am very grateful to Dr.Siegel for offering a valuable insight based on very great personal experience. I am sure we can all benefit from this.

Many thanks.

(1) Liselotte Adler, June 24, 2007 12:47 PM

I look forward to your website

I think I shall buy Bernie Siegel's books for my grandchildren who are raising children.l
I have his earlier books

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment