Pamela Jay Gottfried is a rabbi, parent, teacher and the author of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom. She is a graduate of Haverford College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and an alumna of Clal's Rabbis Without Borders. Learn more at www.pamelagottfried.com.
Perhaps the most difficult thing about parenting teens is letting go--ceding control over their lives, or recognizing that you never really had any control--and preparing them to leave you. When my…girls were toddlers, their wise grandparents told me this, but until I faced the challenge myself I didn't understand a word of their sage advice. My eldest's recent acceptance to college was not only a source of pride; it also triggered some anxiety in me, which I tried to dispel with humor. I claimed my… >> Read More
Every year, at the end of January, I feel a little sad. This began in 1997, when I was nearly 11 weeks into my second pregnancy and I miscarried.
There were so many reasons not to be sad--to be…hopeful--then. I'd already enjoyed an unremarkable, full-term pregnancy, which culminated in the relatively easy birth of a healthy child. My daughter, a spunky toddler at 2 years old, was a source of great joy in my life. We hadn't really been trying to conceive, but we were delighted; I was about six weeks along when… >> Read More
I'm standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.
"What's all over your pants?"
"Did you rip them?!"
"No, they came like that.…It's a style." She pauses for effect. "And they're not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them." Now I'm distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn't noticed that--looking up from the bottom of the stairs--when I'd complimented her. "Are… >> Read More
I have a recurring nightmare. It's not a classic anxiety dream, like the ones where you find yourself standing naked at a podium with no notes or teleprompter. Mine is a maternal dream.
In my dream,…my teenage daughter, my mother-in-law, and I are standing on the Golden Gate Bridge. The setting is disconcerting, as the three of us have never been in San Francisco at the same time. In fact, my teenager has only been there in utero. My ordinarily soft-spoken mother-in-law is yelling at me. I look down and… >> Read More
Do you and your spouse ever wonder what kind of couple you will be "after?" I mean, after the children are grown, after they're out of the house?
I can only vaguely remember what we were like in the…early BC years of our marriage. I sometimes worry that we will become one of those couples that have nothing to say to each other. We've even joked about it--making references to scenes in movies, especially Citizen Kane--when we've found ourselves sitting across the dining room table in the rare silence of a Shabbat morning.… >> Read More
When my children were younger, and people would inevitably remark about how well they "entertained themselves," I would reluctantly acknowledge that I encouraged them by ignoring them.
I never…neglected my children, and I was enchanted by them--I read them picture books for hours, spoke to them only in my non-native but nearly fluent Hebrew, invented silly songs about our daily routines, and played endless games of Candyland and Brochos Lotto. But I also left them to play alone or with each other while… >> Read More
I have made many mistakes as a parent. But none as terrible as the one I made this weekend. I am struck by this realization as I drive my son to school this morning.
Perhaps it is the act of tapping…the brakes that triggers my remorse. This is exactly where I sat on Friday when I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was sitting in the driver's seat when I mistakenly decided not to discuss this news with my son. Turning off the car radio and wiping the tears… >> Read More