Such excitement! A young couple has revealed their secret; they're expecting their first child!!

The pregnancy has a time limit, whether it will be easy, difficult or in between. The labor and birth have a time limit, whether they will be easy, difficult or in between. However, the new arrival plunges its parents into the lifelong role and responsibility of motherhood and fatherhood. This is combined with the equally lifelong puzzle of how do we do it?

There are no training schools for parenting

There are no training schools for parenting. There are of course advisors galore; family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. There are books and methods, popular at various periods of time, from the "Spare the rod and spoil the child" to "Spoil the child, he needs self esteem." How can one balance all the clutter, clash and tumult of well meaning, experienced and expert advisors?

As a parent you too are a person with your personality, character, idiosyncrasies, beliefs, and values. Your fellow parent is also a personality with character, idiosyncrasies, beliefs and values.

The newly born infant is also born with its own inbuilt characteristics of strengths, weaknesses and limitations. How can we make this lifelong relationship productive and positive? We pick what seems to work for us and best helps us attain our goals. But are we both on the same page as to what we wish to nurture and develop in our progeny? Differences of opinion can be discussed and settled privately, away from the children. To the children, the parents should present one view and be supportive of each other, even when privately they disagree.

However, as we embark on this venture we should assess ourselves. Who are we? Who is our family? Who is our community? What is our focus in life? A healthy relationship between the husband and wife is enhanced by an honest self-evaluation To be aware of each one's strengths and weaknesses allows us to understand what we each can contribute as a parent. Admitting our errors is essential to the process. Jacob's son Judah was blessed with the kingship because he was willing to admit publicly that he was wrong. We move forward in life, when we use our mistakes, to stimulate our growth in a positive direction.

As Jews we are fortunate to have a unique source of direction and wisdom for all aspects of our lives including parenting. It is the Torah, both Written and Oral, as interpreted by our sages, for thousands of years. All we need do is to learn, study, absorb and integrate its directives. It would be easy were we not stymied by our own natures and our own habits. Actually, there is universal acknowledgement regarding the great morale and ethical principals of Torah, it's the practices that causes us to falter.

A fundamental principle of Judaism is to love your fellow, yet we see those for whom this idea is difficult to assimilate. If we don't make an effort to internalize this principle, then its external expression will be void and meaningless. To protect our outer veneer, we will accuse the other of lacking what is truly missing within ourselves.

Life wasn't meant to be easy, but its beauty is seen in our growing and rising beyond our difficulties.

Parenting is the most challenging of all labor

Parenting is the most challenging of all labor, yet the most worthwhile and lasting. Each parent has their problems to solve. Yet, each parent has the ability to affect not only the future of his child, but also the future of our nation,G‑d's chosen people, the Eternal people.

As a mother these are some of the ideas I have found and tried to implement:

1) "Hear oh Israel the L-rd our G‑d the L-rd is One," is the basic prayer of the Jewish people.

The word listen is the key and listening is an art. When we truly listen, it's not just our ears that hear, but our minds must focus and our hearts must feel. We need to spend time to listen and focus on what our children say.

2) "When you draw near to a city to wage war against it, you shall call out to it for peace" (Deutronomy 20:10). Similarly, before punishing a child one must try peaceful means to resolve the problem. I have noted that children take a punishment more seriously when peaceful methods have been tried beforehand.

3) "Train a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6). Our sages advise us to teach the child according to what is appropriate for his age, his understanding and his ability. Each child is a unique individual that G‑d created to be loved, valued and nurtured for what he is capable of. One is an intellectual, one is an artist, one is a cook, one is a mechanic and one simply has a happy disposition. Each has a special soul. The parents have been entrusted to care for these jewels, to clean and polish them and direct them onto a way of life.

4) "If a minor finds something and certainly if someone gave him a gift, it is forbidden to rob him of it." (Code of Jewish Law 165:15) A child is an individual whose privacy should be respected. "Who is honored? The one who honors others" (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1). If we want respect we must give others respect.

5) "Life and death are in the hand of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). Before reprimanding a child I would preface with "I love you, but what ever had been done was unacceptable. Each word we use is a "buzz" word conveying and stimulating either positive or negative feelings. The tone we use can also impart meaning. Think of all the different emotions we can imply by changing the manner in which we say "hello." We are admonished by our Sages to "Be particular in your choice of words, lest from them someone will learn to lie" (Ethics of the Fathers 1:9).

Each is a distinct individual, different from others in the family

We tend to pick what we think we can best work with, but we must adjust it to what best suits the young one. Each child thrives in a different system. One child loves a strict schedule, one a flexible schedule, one responds best to music song and dance, one is affected by pictures and some need more physical activity. Each is a distinct individual, different from others in the family.

Basically we teach the children by the way we act. The person you are is the parent your are. Know yourself, know your spouse, know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and use each thoughtfully.

Like parts of a puzzle we supplement and complement each other making a whole picture.The parts are bonded together by the effort each makes to grow individually and together.