Between Parent and Child
This week's Torah portion speaks a lot about that most precious of relationships -- between parent and child.
Even though we should treat everyone kindly and respectfully, God especially instructs us to "honor your father and your mother...and it will be good for you."
This is the fifth of the famous "Ten Commandments" that God gave to us on Mount Sinai.
Our parents brought us into the world and work very hard to take care of us and give us what we need. (Just wait until you're a parent yourself and find out!) But even more than this, our parents have the important job of guiding us and teaching us proper values, so we will know right from wrong. The Torah tells parents: "And you shall teach your children well..."
The loving guidance our parents give us will stay with us our whole lives and help us to succeed in whatever situation life may bring. When parents and children focus on the unique and amazing role they have in each other's lives, they will never come to take each other for granted.
In our story, a crisis helps to remind a boy and his parents just how special they feel toward each other.
"THE WAKE-UP CALL"
"Johnny, remember to wear your helmet." Johnny Solomon heard his mother's voice echo as he flew out the door on the way to the roller-blade track at nearby Willow Park.
"Uh huh," he groaned. But when he got there and laced up his blades Johnny left his helmet behind on the bench as he took to the track.
The roller-blading was great that day. Johnny was easily making jumps and turns that he had been struggling to learn for weeks. In the back of his mind Johnny knew he should have listened to his mother and put on his helmet, but it was just such a beautiful day and it would be a shame to have to break his rhythm now to get it.
Suddenly he noticed something speeding in his direction. "Hey that kid's going the wrong way!" he gasped, as he tried desperately to dodge the young boy in his path. Johnny felt his feet slip from underneath him and that was the last thing he remembered before he was enveloped in blackness.
When he opened his eyes next, he found himself in a strange-looking white room. His head really hurt and it was hard for him to focus his eyes.
Johnny started to panic. "Where am I?" he thought. He was about to cry when he made out a couple of familiar faces. It was his mom and dad! Boy, he had never been so glad to see them in his life!
They both looked worried and his mom looked as if she had been crying.
"Johnny do you hear me?" asked his dad in a hoarse but hopeful voice.
The boy tried to sit up but he was just too dizzy. "Yeah, Dad," he answered weakly with a slight nod of the head.
His father and mother burst into the biggest smiles he had ever seen. They looked at each other. "Thank God," he heard his mother gasp.
Johnny's parents explained to him that he had fallen, badly hurting his head at the roller rink, and that they had stayed by his hospital bedside for two days until he woke up.
Just then the doctor came in and examined the boy. Everyone felt relieved when he announced happily that it looked like he was going to be okay.
After the doctor left, Johnny managed to sit up a bit. "You really stayed here for two straight days?" he asked his dad.
"Of course. We even slept in cots by your bed," his father answered.
"But what about your store, and mom's classes?" asked the boy.
Both of his parents were usually so busy. Johnny couldn't remember his Dad taking a weekday off from work, ever.
His parents smiled. "Johnny, you are much more important to us than any of that. We had to be here for you," explained his mom.
The three of them sat quietly, only the steady "beep" of the monitor that was hooked up to the boy disturbing the silence.
After a moment Johnny raised his eyes, moist with tears. "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you when you told me to wear my helmet," he said looking at his mom. "But I learned my lesson. From now on I'm really going to try to do what you ask me to."
His parents nodded. Mr. Solomon drew close to his son. "Johnny," he said, "the most important thing is that you're okay. Your mother and I love you and only try to ask you to do things that we feel are best for you. You're our child and you're very precious to us."
Johnny smiled. His head still hurt but his heart felt warm and good because he realized how much his parents cared about him.
Q. How did Johnny feel when he first woke up in the hospital?
A. He felt scared and alone and he didn't know what happened to him.
Q. How about when he saw his parents and found out that they had been staying with him?
A. He felt much, much better. He knew his parents loved him and would do whatever they could to help him.
Q. Do you think parents still love their children when the children do something really wrong? Why or why not?
A. Parents have a very special feeling for their children. If the children do something destructive to themselves or others, as in our story, it hurts the parents very much. God gave parents the responsibility to guide and teach their children in the proper path. Therefore, sometimes parents have no choice but to reprimand or punish their children to help them grow in the right way. But the love that they feel for their children never goes away, no matter what.
Q. What are some ways that children can show their appreciation to their parents for their love and caring?
A. The simplest thing is to just tell them. It makes the parents feel so good to hear that we appreciate them. Besides this, we can try to treat them with respect by speaking politely to them, and trying to do what they ask of us. Any ways we can think of to let them know that they are special to us -- for example, with little notes or gifts etc. -- are also terrific.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think the boy in the story was obligated to wear his helmet just because his mother told him to? Why or why not?
A. Children like to feel that they are making their own decisions. This is a healthy feeling since God wants each of us to become independent and responsible adults. However, a child stands to gain a lot by listening to his parents. His parents care deeply about him and want to do whatever they can to help him succeed and attain happiness. They have known him well since birth and they are in the ideal position to advise him to take opportunities and avoid pitfalls that even he himself may not recognize. Johnny should have realized that his mother's advice was for his benefit, or at the very least done it as a kindness toward her, since she wasn't asking something unreasonable of him. Generally speaking a child should choose to really try to do what his parents ask of him whenever he possibly can.
Q. How would you raise your children if you were a parent? What do you consider important things to teach them?
A. Of course, every one is different, but generally the Torah considers the teaching of proper values to be the parents' most important job. When parents guide their children to become kind, sensitive, responsible human beings who know right from wrong and aren't afraid to take a stand for their values, they do a great job raising their children.