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Holding Our Children

Holding Our Children

Creating a loving, secure environment for our children.


One of my most powerful memories of childhood is of being held by my father, of blessed memory. When I close my eyes I can feel his strong arms holding me, and his scratchy unshaved jaw against my four year old face, a tactile memory that, 48 years later, still evokes a sense of safety. The inner knowledge of love, warmth, connection, closeness, and okay-ness. Daddy’s holding me, everything’s okay. And I’m okay too.

The Torah tells us that Moses carried the Jewish people as a nurse carries a nursing infant. And the Rabbis tell us that God held us in the desert for 40 years, and continues to hold us still, as a mother holding her child. We have only to reach out and open ourselves up to feel the embrace. We need to follow His lead.

We know that part of being a parent, perhaps the most important part, is the task of creating a “holding environment” in our home, a place where each child is held and feels held throughout his lifetime. First and foremost, a holding environment is a safe one. Each child must feel safe, safe in the sense that no one will intentionally harm him, and secure in the knowledge that he is loved, and is a part of something bigger than himself. He belongs and is accepted.

Each child must feel safe, secure in the knowledge that he is loved, and is a part of something bigger than himself.

We hold our children when we are careful with their feelings. We hold our children when we pay attention to them, when we give them time and really listen when they talk to us. We hold our children with our smiles, kind words, and words of encouragement. We hold our children when we are a rock they can depend on, a shoulder to cry on, an understanding heart, happy for them in their joy, and empathic in their pain.

We also hold our children when we hold them responsible for their actions, when we insist on accountability for the tasks that are theirs, when we assertively ask them to apologize when they have hurt us or others. And when we hold them responsible for their behavior, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are still holding them, and the message must be, “I love you and care about you and I expect more of you.”

We continue to hold our children during their adulthood. I continue to feel held by my mother when I see her joy and the nachas she so eloquently communicates with her eyes. We hold our children when we walk them down the aisle to the Chuppah, and when we hold their children.

June 12, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Melanie, July 22, 2010 5:02 AM

Perfect reminder! THANK you! Life is tough, and in an effort to help my children learn to be strong little perseverers, I sometimes get unbalanced and not hold them enough. I really needed to read this, blessings to you, and keep these kinds of articles coming!!

(4) Marilyn, June 15, 2010 8:48 PM

Grandma's arms

When I was a small child in Michigan, it was the custom for the womenfolk to take refuge in the basement during a thunderstorm, while the menfolk stood at the threshhold of the house and kept watch of the sky for signs of tornado activity. I still remember the feelings of love and security I experienced with my Grandpa standing guard over me; while I was being held and rocked in my Grandma's arms, while she hummed softly to me. Her kindness has never been forgotten. In ensuing decades, that memory created a refuge that carried me through my darkest hours. To this day, the sounds of the cracking, booming thunder, with its accompanying howling winds and driven rain, carry me back to that time and place so long ago, where I felt safe and secure and loved; and reminds me that no matter how dark and tempestuous the events of this world may appear; we are held safely in the arms of the One Who created all that is; Who watches over us and loves us more than we may know.

(3) Nachama, June 13, 2010 5:42 PM

Thankyou Chana

Thankyou Chana, what lovely sentiments. I agree with you. I have a 13 year old daughter and I love her more than life. Sadly her father (my late husband) was killed in a car wreck when she was only 22 months old. She has been and will always be my driving force.

(2) tobywil, June 13, 2010 3:32 PM

great article

each child is a special gift, altho I agree with the author, the most important part of the article is at the end, each parent must make each child feel special and held accountable with love, from a bubby who feels all thirteen of her grandchildren are special and she feels blest for having each of her children and grandchildren

(1) Chana, June 13, 2010 2:25 PM

Beautiful memories of childhood love!

Yes, I believe when you show your children a lot of love and kindness that they internalize this as they grow up. They do feel loved and secure. My daughter is 9 years old. I have been adoring her for all of these years. I don't want to let her go. Sometimes I even feel afraid that some day she will be on her own. I feel very nervous about that. I can't really imagine that some day I will have to let her have her own life with her own dreams. I am just enjoying her each and everyday now. I don't like that separation between us. My husband and I just adore her so much and don't want her to grow up too fast either. My message to other readers is to love your children NOW and always! Cherish each and every moment.

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