As we began Selichot, our focus turns to Rosh HaShana which is fast approaching. As I set aside time during these days to recite Selichot, I become more contemplative and reexamine my daily Tefillah as well. “U’teshuva, u’tefillah, u’tzedakah…” - it is the season for prayer. But, I do remind myself of the importance of my daily prayer as well.
Whether during the Yamim Noraim or on a daily basis we struggle with making our prayers personal. I have recently found a number of parenting prayers which poignantly make the point that we need G-d on a day to day basis, and can always turn to Him with even the smallest parenting frustrations.
I found myself recalling a tefilla that Mrs. Zohar Elazary, (one of our former Shlichim who returned to Israel this year), shared with me. It is meant to be tongue and cheek and a parody on Tefillat HaDerech, but who needs prayer more than a parent of a teenager?
בִּרְכַּת דֶּרֶךְ לְהוֹרֵי מִתְבַּגְּרִים
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנַיִךְ,
שתוליכנו אֶת גִּיל הַהִתְבַּגְּרוּת בְּשָׁלוֹם.
וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ בִּדְרָכִים בְּטוּחוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יוֹבִילוּ לְמלְתַעוֹת זַעַם וּמְרִיבָה,
וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לַעֲנוֹת בִּתְבוּנָה מוּל חוּצְפָּה יַסְגֵּא וּרְבִיצָה תִפְרָה,
כָּךְ שֶׁמִלוֹתֵינוּ יִהְיוּ לַנֶּחָמָה וְלֹא תַּהֲפֹכְנָה לְחרֵב פִּיפִיּוֹת.
וְתַגִיעֵנוּ לְמָחוֹז גִּיל 18, בַּחַיִּים, וּבַשִּׂמְחָה וּבְשָׁלוֹם,
וְתַצִילֵנוּ מִכַּף כל הוֹרְמוֹן וְחֲצְ'קוּן וְאַפְלִיקָצְיוֹת זְדוֹנִיּוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ,
וּמִכָּל מִינֵי אֲהָבוֹת נִכְזָבוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לְעוֹלָם.
וְתִתְּנֶנּוּ לַחֵן וְלַחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים בְּעֵינֵיהֶם וּבְעֵינֵי כָּל חַבְרֵיהֶם,
כִּי אַל שׁוֹמֵעַ רְטִינוֹת וְרוֹאֶה כָּל גִּלְגּוּלִי עֵינַיִם, אַתָּה.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, פּוֹדֶה וּמַצִּיל הוֹרִים.
(סְגֻלָּה הִיא לוֹמַר זֹאת שָׁלוֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּיוֹם,
וְהַמָחְמִירִין יִלְחֲשׁוּ מִלּוֹתֵיהֶם, שֶׁלֹּא תֵחַרְפֵנָה צְאֵצָאֵם)
Prayer for the way for parents of adolescents
May it be Your will that you will lead us through the age of adolescence in peace.
And, walk us in secure paths that will not lead to anger and quarrels.
And, lead us in a path to answer with wisdom against impudence and lying which should lessen and learning should grow.
So too, our words should be for a comfort and not turn into a double-edged sword.
And, let us reach the age of 18 with life, happiness and peace.
And, save us from the hands of all malicious hormones, pimples and apps on the way.
And, from all types of disappointing loves that rage and come to the world.
And, grant me grace, kindness, and mercy in their eyes and in the eyes of all their friends.
Because You are a G-d who hears the grunts and sees all the eye rolling.
Blessed are You who redeems and saves parents.
(It is good luck to say this prayer three times each day. And, those are are extra strict about religious standards whisper their words so their offspring won’t get “freaked out.”)
This prayer is clearly not one to actually recite on Rosh HaShana, but it does remind us that when we meet frustration on a daily basis, we always have Someone who understands and can listen.
This is another parenting prayer for teenagers I came across on-line by Kelli Mahoney, who although not of the Jewish faith, does express some important ideas:
Lord, thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed on me. Most of all, thank you for this wonderful child that has taught me more about you than anything else you have done in my life. I have seen them grow in you since the day you blessed my life with them. I have seen you in their eyes, in their actions, and in the words that they say. I now understand better your love for each of us, that unconditional love that leads you to great joy when we honor you and great heartbreak when we disappoint.
So today, Lord, I lift up my own child to you for your blessings and guidance. You know that teenagers are not always easy. There are times when they are challenging me to be the adult they think they are, but I know it's not time yet. There are other times when I struggle to give them freedom to live and grow and learn, because all I remember is that it was just yesterday when I was putting band-aids on scrapes and a hug and kiss was enough to make the nightmares go away.
Lord, there are so many ways of the world that terrify me as they enter it more and more on their own. There are the obvious evils done by other people. The threat of physical harm by those we see on the news every night. I ask that you protect them from that, but I also ask that you protect them from the emotional harm that comes in these years of great emotions. I know that there are dating and friendship relationships that will come and go, and I ask that you guard their heart against things that will make them bitter. I ask that you help them make good decisions and that they remember the things I tried to teach them every day about how to honor you.
I also ask, Lord, that you guide their footsteps as they walk on their own. I ask that they have your strength as peers try to lead them down paths of destruction. I asks that they have your voice both in their heads and your voice as they speak so that they honor you in all that they do and say. I ask that they feel strength in their faith as others try to tell them that you are not real or you are not worth following. Lord, please let them see you as the most important thing in their life, and that no matter the hardships, their faith will be solid.
And Lord, I ask for the patience to be a good example to my child during a time when they will test every part of me. Lord, help me not lose my temper, give me strength to both stand firm when I need to and let go when the time is right. Guide my words and actions so that I am leading my child in your ways. Let me offer the right advice and set the right rules for my child to help them be the person of God you desire.
Here’s another called “Prayer for Moody Teenagers.”
I’ve had it, Lord! I really am at the end of my rope. You know how much I love this child. Only you know the thousands of times I have prayed to you for the safety, wisdom, health, happiness and life dreams for this beloved child of mine.
But right now this child has turned into a mouthy, moody, sullen and non-communicative teenager. My prayers now are asking for guidance and patience for me. Help me, Lord!
Sometimes at night I can find my loved child asleep and peaceful and I remember all over again with a great rush of love, just why you blessed me as a mother. But today, this week, this month, it’s just hard.
Help me to remember in every situation that I love this child deeply and with all of my heart. Give me the wisdom to say the right thing – and the wisdom to say nothing when that is the right thing. Give me patience. Help me to remember that this struggle against me is a part of growing and becoming an adult. I want to remember that it is hard for both of us, and that I am at least the one who has memories of my own experience of those years.
Help me to keep a cool head, loving God. I am humbled by my powerlessness at times. Let me remember that I am not in control and never have been. You are. Thank you.
Before we continue, I do want to stress that many of our children are a pleasure most of the time. But, interestingly, how many of us turn to say a personal prayer to G-d when things are going well?
With the beginning of school coinciding with the school year, I really liked this parenting prayer for a successful school year:
May it be a year of learning and growth, a year of new experiences and understanding.
May they outgrow their shoes and may they not lose their jackets.
May each day bring something new and may routine guide their steps.
May their pencils be sharp and their minds even sharper.
May they revel in the joy of each new fact learned, each right answer, each small accomplishment.
May the erasers on their pencils get as much use as the tips.
May they learn that wrong answers can be just as important as right ones.
May they ask questions, lots and lots of questions, and may their teachers be patient. Very patient.
May they make friends and build relationships, and may they make lifelong connections.
May they be kind and polite and each one a mensch of the highest order.
And, may this year be filled with blessings.
I recently also found this parenting prayer in the Times of Israel written by Ysoscher Katz the night before his son’s siddur play. I think the words hold true for even our teens- who are many years since their siddur play.
Many have started off on this path, but few have persevered. The obstacles are many. You will often find yourself hitting a wall, encountering bleakness and fog, or plain simply run out of gas. Stay the course!
when the chips are up, or when they are down;
when you strive for transcendence, or when you are searching for immanence;
when you are trying to reach outward, or looking to run inward;
when you are awash in joy and happiness, or when you are overcome by fury and sadness;
when you are filled with certainty, or when you racked by ambiguity;
when you believe, when you are in doubt, and, even if you find yourself straying off the path;
Keep on praying.
Let the siddur’s words be your soundtrack as you traverse life. May it be the songbook for when you ascend life’s peaks, and your balm as you hover over its lows.
But, do not let the words fool you. Prayer is not unidimensional. It is different things at different times. It can be dialogue or monologue, personal or communal, aspirational or fatalistic, affirmative or rebellious, or … whatever else you want it to be.
It can be done orally or silently, stoically or filled with agitation.
As the Psalmist says: ואני תפילה. Prayer is identity. It is who you are, not what you do.
As you open your eyes tomorrow morning you will say “modeh ani” — I thank. Let that praying stance stay with you forever.
Ve-ani tefilah! — And I am prayer
As we as parents turn to G-d for support, we model for our children what true Tefilla is and hopefully inspire them to have a relationship through prayer as well.
Each year, right before Rosh Chodesh Sivan, an e-mail often circulates in religious circles. Shelah HaKadosh wrote a prayer to recite for one’s children on the day before Rosh Chodesh Sivan. The sentiments are true all year long and especially this time of year. Here is a link to that prayer and its translation:
As parents, we are busy praying for a successful, happy and healthy year for our children. Our hearts are full of the prayers above, at times with humor and at times with utmost seriousness. They do remind me of the importance of focusing on asking for parenting support when in shul in the days ahead.
I would like to end this prayerful article with a tefilla that I found in the book called Aneni- Special Prayers for Special Occasions. This book has many different prayers for parents to say for their children. But, I’d like to focus for a moment on the prayer called, “תפילת בנים על אבות- “Children’s Prayer For Their Parents” found in a book called “Shaarei Tzion.” Here is an excerpt:
“May it be your will, Eternal, our G-d and G-d of our forefathers that our father, mother and we be healthy and strong enough to serve You truly and happily. Instill in our hearts to listen to our father and mother, and help us to always honor them as You wish…”
Just as it is not always easy to be a parent who makes the right choices and therefore we need Hashem’s guidance daily, so too it is not always easy being a child who interacts with his/her parents as is appropriate. They too need that extra siyata d’shmaya, help from Heaven.
As we approach Avinu She’bashamayim, our Father in Heaven, during these weeks ahead, may our parenting prayers for our relationships with our children and for their success in the year ahead be heard.
Sixth Grade; Students discussed the skills needed for a good discussion in Advisory.
Seventh Grade; Students began a unit on skills needed to be a leader, as they embark on the Frost Valley preparation unit.
Eighth Grade: As they returned from their Corn Maze team work trip last week, students spoke about the book Who Moved My Cheese which highlights how a maze depicts frustrations in life. How do we deal with change and frustration?