As parents, we are constantly faced with challenging moments. Sometimes they are the more basic frustrations, like waking up to a crying child who needs a new diaper or a bottle, and sometimes they are the more annoying moments, like when you need to resolve silly sibling disputes, or the inevitable my-teacher-is-picking-on-me scenarios.

All of these test our mettle, and in moments of strength and resolve (which usually coincide with a good night's rest) we show up as our best selves and do our parental duty with aplomb.

Then there are those seriously difficult moments—terrifying in fact—when you, if you are honest, you might ask yourself: Is it worth the effort? This is just too hard!

It is humbling when a parent asks themselves the above questions, even if they immediately acknowledge that the very question is ridiculous and of course they love their child. But nothing will push you to ask that question like seeing your child in the psych ward and being completely helpless to help them. You ask yourself, what is my value to my child if I cannot even save them from themselves or from the hospital system?

As I struggled to navigate these painful emotions, through utter chaos and despair, I had to figure out what would be next for our daughter.

The hospital suggested RTC (Residential Treatment Center). My child, who I don’t blame one iota and who was now somewhat stable after her 10-day hospital stay, was absolutely opposed to the idea. So we needed somewhere safe for her to go and still receive PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program), a safe home to live in where there is monitoring and medication management, and UA’s (urinalysis) to check for relapses and use of drugs or alcohol, and usually up to five hours a day of clinical care, with therapy and psychiatry five days a week.

What were we to do? With no prior experience, we were in a pickle and the clock was racing against us. We hurriedly did our best and found a place that we hoped would fit the bill. Like most decisions made in haste, this one was not our best (more on that later).

On the plane, escorting our daughter to her next destination, I began to cry silently, praying to G‑d for guidance and strength. Was this the right decision? Should we have fought our adult daughter and pushed for more care? What does the future look like? What kind of parent am I that all this happened under my watch? I am a rabbi (!), I’m the one who is usually there supporting others through these crises, but now when I am dealing with it, I am completely ill-equipped to handle it!

Where will I find my strength, where will I find my guidance? G‑d, isn’t she your daughter too? Step up and help me, I cried silently, as my daughter slept soundly next to me on the plane.

I find inspiration in the story told by a father who confided in the Rebbe that he had a temper and on occasion he hit his children. The Rebbe responded, “If they were your neighbor’s children would still hit them? Of course not!”

The Rebbe then went on to explain that, in fact, each of our children is also G‑d’s child and as such ought to be viewed as not exclusively our own. Just as you’d never hit your neighbor’s kid, don’t hit G‑d’s child.

A great lesson, though we are not always in the frame of mind to truly incorporate this approach to our own child-rearing.

We often have more patience for the neighbor’s kid than our own. I know, at times, that is me. As a rabbi, the craziest, looniest folks will often walk through my doors, and for them I have a hug, a cup of coffee and a kind word. If my child came in looking and acting that same way, I’d have far less patience.


Perhaps an even deeper appreciation of the Rebbe’s word about G‑d being a partner and therefore parent to my child might help me get into the right mind frame.

The Torah often has G‑d referring to the Jewish people—the regular folks like me and you, not just Moses—as His Children. And you shall say to Pharaoh, “So said G‑d, My firstborn son is Israel,”1 and “You are the children of the L‑rd your G‑d,”2 among many other examples.

Clearly, we need to view our children as G‑d's children, not His grandchildren. In fact, the Talmud3 states clearly that there are three partners in creation: mother, father and G‑d.

This is a very deep idea, but critical in solving the parenting crises that arise: Our reaction to our child has to be that of a person viewing their neighbor’s child, or more accurately, a child that is not exclusively their own.

However, it gets even better. Since this child actually also belongs to G‑d, then everything he or she is going through is actually by design. It is a direct result of the third parent, G‑d.

Since it is coming from parent number three, and parent number three is omnipotent and omniscient, we know that we are up to the task.

Finally, since this child is a son/daughter of G‑d, certainly G‑d will provide him/her and me/you with the resources, both mental and material, to withstand whatever this child may throw at us (at times, literally).

While this three-way marriage is always true, when we become aware of it and take it into our essence, it is worthy of an anniversary celebration.

Lean into your Spouse, G‑d. He’s got it!

Throw your burden on the L‑rd, and He will bear you.
-Psalms 55:23

The author is a rabbi in North America. This is part of a series of articles chronicling his daughter’s ongoing struggle with addiction and mental illness.