Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Honor Thy Father and Mother

Before David Letterman had a “Top 10” list, God made the original “Top 10,” as in Commandments. Coming in at number five—“Honor Thy Father and Mother—” is therefore key to raising self reliant children.
Obviously, God was serious about parental respect. Not until I had children of my own, however, did I truly appreciate this logic. In fact, I swore I’d never say things like “because I said so” when my kids would ask me why they can’t stay up 30 minutes past their bedtime. Sometimes I give such lengthy explanations they even forgot their original question.
For example, I might ramble, “You need to go to bed right now because you had a sleepover the other night, and you were up really late, and you need to be well rested for your spelling test tomorrow, and besides if you don’t get enough sleep you will be sick, and you don’t want to miss your best friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
By now, they surely are exhausted, and cover their own head with a pillow to block out the sound of my voice.
The philosophy here is to teach kids early on who is boss and to be consistent until they leave the nest, if only it were that easy.
Many parents in my generation give their kids a say so in anything and everything, maybe because we feel guilty for not spending quality time with our family. Truth is, my children don’t need me as their friend, but they need a role model to look up to, an authority figure who isn’t a wimp when it comes to saying “no.” Judaism says the best place to start is respect, or teaching the virtue of derech eretz (the way of the land) by emphasizing good old-fashioned manners like saying “please” and “thank you” and, of course, wiping the toilet seat.
Then again, parents have to pick their battles, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when Sari calls me by my first name “Ellie.” She only yells out my first name in “emergencies,” such as when she freaks out about a tornado siren, when Luci, our toy poodle, chews another napkin out of the trash, or whenever she can’t find her favorite white sandals with the flower. The last time she hollered “Ellie,” I calmly explained to her that children don’t call their parents by their first names because it doesn’t show respect. I warned her that the next time she calls me “Ellie,” I will ignore her, even if a funnel cloud is overhead. I went on to suggest more appropriate titles, such as mom, mommy, mama, Ima, or even mother dearest. There I go again with the choices—another weakness of mine.
We often teach what we need to learn, and the lesson to honor God starts with respecting ourselves and each other. As always, this takes a lot of time and energy.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.