I have a friend who carefully orchestrates her children’s lives. Her oldest daughters are now grown and, following their mother’s lead, have made friends with the “right” connections, have gone to the “right” schools and have been involved in all the “right” activities. Both have grown into smart and responsible individuals—albeit sometimes lacking a certain confidence in their own life choices.

My friend’s youngest daughter is still in her tumultuous teen years. Unlike her sisters, she has a more independent streak and doesn’t appreciate her mother’s constant involvement.

Raising children is like tightrope walking. How much freedom and how much direction? How much do we insist and how much do we trust? Are we steering them gently or meddling too much?

This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, describes the birth of Jacob and Esau, who couldn’t be more different from one another. Jacob personified piety, while Esau was an individual challenged by an inborn evil inclination. But Esau was never meant to become Jacob; rather, his mission was to overcome his temptation despite his strong propensity for evil.

As explained in Educating our Children, “our job is not to mold our children into a replica of our ideal. It is to enable them to use their tendencies, talents and, yes, deficiencies, to their maximum.”

This week we feature Hear Me Out, the inspiring story of how a mother of a deaf child helped him achieve his unique potential. We also feature Harmony, a short video produced by Tzohar seminary students exploring how beauty is a harmonious balancing act, blending together a multitude of colors.

Whether in learning to believe in ourselves, or in seeking to eradicate our own negative thoughts, we all seek beauty in our lives. Perhaps, as the Harmony video proclaims, our success lies in focusing on incorporating “all of the notes of the song, all the colors of the rainbow”—the highs and the lows, the control and the trust, the giving in and the sticking to our principles—into one harmonious whole.

Sure, it sounds overwhelming. But as our Frazzled to Focus coach assures us, “it’s not about finishing all the work, but about doing our part.”

How do you create harmony and beauty in your life?

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW