Dear readers,

“In case of emergency, if you are traveling with young children or someone who needs assistance,” the stewardess intones as she cautions her passengers about the plane’s safety procedures, “put on your own mask first before assisting another.”

Although intuitively a parent will first take her child out of harm’s way, this is not proper safety procedure. Nor should you help another, more vulnerable individual before first taking care of yourself.

There are logical reasons for this.

The most obvious is that a person in distress is not capable of assisting. If you’re gasping for breath, you will likely become anxious and incapable of calmly and patiently tending to the needs of another.

But there’s more to it. If you are in turmoil, your child will sense it even if your actions claim otherwise. Even if he is comfortably outfitted with his oxygen mask, your child will be distraught. Only when a child sees his parent calm and under control will he relax with the understanding that the situation is under control and help is on the way.

Children sense the mood and mind frame of their parents. They sense their parents’ inner truth—what is important to us and what we value—and react accordingly. Children learn what we live, not what they are told.

We are beginning a new year—a new Jewish year as well as a new school year. It always amazes me that the new Jewish year so closely aligns with the new academic year, and that the mood around this time is so full of freshness, new beginnings and new prospects.

How do we view these new opportunities? Do we see them with jaded eyes as just more of the same drudgery? Or do we grab on to the atmosphere of newness by embracing positive change in our lives? Do we see our children’s teachers as new sources of wisdom and new channels of growth, or do we show disregard or apathy? Do we see a new year as a chance to erase all the old and bad and start over, refreshed and improved?

Our attitudes, demeanors and moods are sensed by our children (and many others around us!) even more than the words that we utter. How we react to our life experiences, our choices, our opportunities is a daily learning experience.

As women, wives and mothers, we tend to intuitively take care of everyone else—physically, emotionally and spiritually—while selflessly neglecting ourselves, or putting our needs on the bottom of our ever-growing to-do lists.

But we can encourage another only if we are also encouraging ourselves.

Because if we don’t take the time or energy to ensure that spiritual oxygen is pumping through our veins, it becomes difficult to assist anyone else.

And there’s too many people counting on us.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW