Avraham ben Yaakov
3 Teaching Our Children
"Educate the youth according to his way, even when he grows old, he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
How many prayers we pour out to the Almighty for our children. Even before they are born, we beg Him to bring them into the world healthy in soul and body. As soon as they are born, thank G-d, the first thing done in the delivery room is to examine the baby to ascertain that everything is normal and functioning. As our children grow, so do the numbers of details to which we must pay attention to check that everything is developing properly.
We go to enormous lengths for the sake of our children's good and to spare them even the slightest pain and suffering. Every cry, every little sore or sign that indicates that G-d forbid something may not right arouses immediate anxiety and often sends us running to the doctor.
Are we also prepared to invest effort to save our children from adverse health and future suffering by learning to educate them to guard their health, so that their bodies will serve them well for the good, long years we wish them?
Children are a pledge
As loving parents whose natural need to protectively hold and embrace a child has been fulfilled, we are certainly prepared to invest in the wellbeing of our children. In order to direct this natural feeling in a way that brings maximum benefit to our children, we must always remember that first and foremost these precious children are a pledge entrusted in our hands by the Creator of the World. As God's agents, it is our obligation to protect and guard these pledges to the best of our ability. Every Jewish soul that comes into the world adds to the greatness of the Holy One, each one in his or her own unique way. Each boy and girl is a living continuation of the Jewish People. Every single one is an entire world.
An essential part of protecting of these precious pledges is the protection of their health. From earliest childhood we must help them develop healthy habits and instill in them an awareness of the importance of health. What we as parents do to protect our children's health is not enough. As they grow older, we must educate them to take responsibility for their own health, so that when they leave us and embark on their own independent lives, they themselves will take the proper care of themselves.
The mitzvah of taking care of our bodies is alluded to in the verse "Guard yourself and guard your soul very much." The continuation of the verse -- "and make them known to your children and your children's children" -- alludes to education!
We are commanded to educate our children in practice of all the mitzvos. Our sages also taught us to prepare our children to face the realities of life in this world and the challenges it brings us. For example, the sages said that a father must teach his son a skill in order for him to make a respectable living. Similarly, they said he must teach his son to swim (Kiddushin 29a). Why? In order to save his life if he should he ever need it. If our sages instructed us to teach our children skills they might need to save themselves from possible danger, how much more are we obliged to teach them to protect themselves against definite harm from unhealthy practices.
How do you teach children healthcare?
Educating our children to take proper care of their health is a work of many years, often having no set times and applicable in all spheres of life. From birth and in early childhood, the responsibility of caring for children's health falls on their parents, who must provide them with their needs and protect them from hazards. As children grow older, the emphasis shifts to teaching them the importance of health and helping them develop healthy habits.
As soon as children leave the home and enter an educational framework, their teachers must become partners in this enterprise. The nature of the guidance and its content develop according to the needs of each age. Step by step, responsibility for taking care of their health shifts to the children themselves.
In order for the work of education to succeed with the help of God, it is necessary to pay careful attention to a number of points:
An interesting educational method
-- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
In the parable of the Prince who thought he was a Turkey, the Prince is a symbol of the rebellious side of children that pushes them not to listen to parents and teachers. Children live in their own world, a world in which the rules and relationships are different from those of adults. We can learn from the Wise Man that it is possible and necessary to give children a feeling of trust that they can do what we ask of them without giving up on their own private world. Similarly, the Wise Man shows us that we can achieve good results only with patience. Getting our children to acquire good health habits is a very important goal. The way to attain it is by going with small steps at their rate. With God's help these small steps will lead to great achievements.
Chapter 4: Understanding and Appreciating the Body
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HEALTH AND HEALING
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