In the hours after giving birth, due to the mixture of emotions and hormones, I didn’t know if I was dreaming or awake. I held my precious baby in my arms. What a miracle! How could it be that this human being had been inside of me? And now that he was out, why was it that my hands instinctively rubbed my belly as though he was still inside? When it was time to hand him over to the nurse, I felt like I was handing over a part of me. And with each child, I felt that same connection, and the same question popped into my mind: How is it that they were inside of me, and now they are not? How is it that they were a part of me, but now they are separate?How is it that they were inside of me, and now they are not?

When you look at your children, you search for similarities. You can’t help it. “He has my nose, my eyes, my laughter and love of life.” Some of these similarities you love, and some of them you don’t. “He’s so stubborn, she’s strong-willed . . . why does she have to take that quality after me!”

As a mother, you worry. “What is he eating?” “Is she sleeping?” “How is he doing in school?” “Does she get along with her classmates?” They succeed, you feel you succeed. They make a mistake, you feel that it’s your mistake. It’s confusing. Are your children a part of you, or are they separate?

The other day, my daughter and I were braiding challah dough. I pinched the three ropes together, and quickly braided one challah after another. My daughter took her three ropes, braided them, and then flattened the dough down with her hand. Don’t judge me, but my first thought was, “What are you doing? We’re not making pitas, we’re making challahs!” I kept quiet. At least, I tried to. I finally asked her, “What are you making?”


“I never saw anyone flatten the dough like that before.”

“This is how I do it.”


This is just one example out of a thousand interactions that transpire in the course of a day. And as I watched her flatten and make pancakes out of her challahs, I realized this is what King Solomon was speaking about when he taught, “Educate the child according to his way.”1 In the past, when I had heard this teaching, I understood it to mean that if children are artistic, they should learn with art; if musical, teach them with song. I understood that King Solomon was instructing me how to teach my child. But I think that there is more to this teaching from the wisest man in history.

Let children learn according to their way, not your way! Let children learn from their own trials and errors, from their own successes and failures (obviously, while establishing boundaries and rules, and instilling Torah values). My grandfather used to say, “Life is the best college education.” This means that I don’t have to interrupt and interject when they are trying to do something new. This means that I don’t have to direct them as they clean their room or draw a picture. This means that I can let them learn I don’t have to interrupt and interject when they are trying to do something newthat if you put your jacket on inside-out, it won’t button, and if you put the key in upside-down, it won’t turn the lock. This means that I can spare a few minutes of my precious time to wait while I let my children figure out how to do something on their own.

The parent-child connection is beautiful, and yes, there are so many similarities (and differences) between us and our children, but we are not the same. G‑d didn’t create us to have children through osmosis. The baby growing inside of you is not part of you in any way. It’s attached to you, it’s protected by you and it receives its nourishment and oxygen from you, but even as an unfertilized egg, it’s not you. As we love and worry, as we educate and nourish, we have to remember that our children are their own separate beings, have their own special mission, and will ultimately learn according to their own way.