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What is parental authority anyway?

אמא מאיר בראיון

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It's not every day that I host my dear mother-in-law, reknown family therapist Ziva Meir, at the TV studio. The following words were taken from an interview I conducted with her regarding challenges faced during holidays -- especially with our children, but with others too.

"Parents say things such as 'He destroyed the holiday' or 'He ruined our trip.' There should be no such thing. As parents we have authority that our children should not be allowed to question or sabotage.

We are in the middle of a holiday and the light of Pesach should even shine on a two-year-old boy so that he does not think of tormenting his little sister. 'He destroyed the holiday' only if I gave him license to do that, to negatively affect the atmosphere at home. So will I be a parent who leads or a parent who is led? Do I grant myself the full authority that I deserve?

Real parental authority is like a backbone, both strong and flexible. If it is only assertive, it can break. If it is only flexible, it will not support the body.

A child can make us nervous, if not crazy. A spouse can upset us and, for that matter, so can other family members and friends. But if we have a strong sense of who we are, then we will not let others bother us. We do not need their "likes" or even their thanks.

We need only take a deep breath and keep in mind our proper role as parents. When parents are acting as they should, children will act appropriately too.

May everyone's holiday continue to bring them occasions for family togetherness and joy.


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