By Chanie Feldman, former Preschool Director at Cheder Chabad in Baltimore, MD, for CECE, a division of the Shluchim office
In this week’s Torah reading – Parshat Lech-Lecha – Hashem commands Avraham to pack his bags and relocate. Hashem doesn’t give much more detail than that. He doesn’t tell Avraham where he is going or how long the trip will take, nor what he should do when he arrives, Hashem merely commands Avraham to go to the land that “I will show you…”
And Avraham listens. Despite the difficulty and the unknown, he packs up with his wife and his household and they start their journey. It would probably have been easier though if Hashem had just given him a little bit more information. Couldn’t Hashem have prepared him – maybe some advanced notice would have been helpful.
Fast forward to this day and age and picture the same situation – it happens every day. Only you are the one with the command and Avraham, in this case, is your preschooler. Consider for a moment how often you give your child directions throughout the day. Now consider how much information you provide as you are giving directions.
You know where you are going, what you are planning and exactly what you expect. But sometimes, usually without realizing it, you withhold these details from your child as you quickly dole out instructions.
Here’s the thing though, in the case of the Parshat Lech-Lecha, Hashem was TESTING Avraham. He wanted to challenge his faith and see if Avraham would pull through. So the situation was intentionally difficult.
But when you are directing your child, do you mean to test their faith? Are you measuring their ability to blindly follow your commands? It’s an important skill, no doubt, and one that should be cultivated carefully over time, but it’s probably not your intention over and again throughout the day.
So while there are lots of lessons to learn from this week’s reading, perhaps one take away point is that in cases that aren’t tests of faith that are meant to go down in history, try to:
1. Offer your child some warning before asking them to transition or make changes from their norm.
2. Give them details about appointments, and trips or errands
3. Let your child know what to expect when facing new experiences
4. Get their input and allow for some choice, you might not be able to change what time you need to get out the door but you can probably work out who wants to open it.
Help your child follow your lead when you follow their need!