Our days are getting shorter, the moon is rising earlier, and there’s a slight chill in the air. What a wonderful opportunity to extend those family dinners and share stories of those who came before us, how we came to be where we are, and even how our day was. Who knows? You might even hear what really happened at school today, instead of the proverbial “nothing.” Do you know how your parents or even your grandparents met? Wouldn’t your children like to know? What jobs or professions did they have? How did they get to the United States or were they born here? Why did they come to the United States? How did you two meet and what was the funny story about Aunt Sarah at your wedding? In return, you might hear about a playground spat—which you’d be better off ignoring. However, you may also learn that your child is being bullied at the lunch table, that the “cool kids” call her “fatty,” or that he is forced to do his classmate’s homework. It is a constant struggle to keep those lines of communication open between parent and child. Sometimes by sharing a story or struggle of our own, we open the door to our children sharing theirs. They so often worry that we will be disappointed in them if they let us know about their struggles, but when they learn that our life isn’t perfect, it’s easier for them to open up. I challenge you to use these longer evenings to sit and chat with your kids for just a while longer, sharing, caring and building relationships of support that will take your family well into the future. ✿
Sue Penn, the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, is known for being an innovative and creative educator. She believes that every child needs to be challenged to reach his or her own potential, even if it involves a variety of learning strategies. Sue sits on the National Board of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America. Sue lives in Irvine with her husband of almost 25 years and three wonderful children.