Give Children the Space to Inspire Us, and They Will
Principle 1 for Being an Inspiring Parent
This first video looks at how making space for our children to inspire us is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
Someone asked me the following question: How amid all the pressures today on kids and on parents can we inspire our children to become sources of pride to us?
And it’s a good question because the pressures are enormous. There are, of course, the pressures on family, both of which are in real trouble, and the sheer pressures of the bombardment of information, you know, we have so much that nowadays we have, and our kids even more than us have, very short attention spans.
I kind of imagined once that if the Giving of the Torah took place at Sinai now, how would it figure? God summons up Moses and says: Moses, I’m going to give you the Torah. It’s going to take forty days and forty nights. And Moses says: Well, Ribbono Shel Olam, Almighty God, um, do You think you could get it down to 140 characters?
And that’s the extent of our attention span these days, the length of a tweet, a piece of social media. And how, in all these pressures, do we inspire our children?
Now, listen, I’m not going to give you the obvious answer because that solves the problem at a stroke, which is, marry someone who is a great parent. (Which is what I did.)
But the truth is, I want to give you very very simply, thirteen principles. They’re very simple, they’re all understood pretty quickly, and we’ll do this in a series of thirteen short videos.
So here is Rule One. It was an extraordinary moment, a defining moment in my life. It happened about six months ago. I had the great good fortune, the privilege, or let’s face it, the luck, to win a prize called the Templeton Prize. It’s quite a big thing and we have a whole ceremony when you’re awarded the Prize in Central Westminster [in London], a thousand people, and it’s a big, big moment for a big Address. I thought about my speech on the acceptance of the Prize for months, I wrote it out I don’t know how many times.
The great night came, I delivered the speech, and it was okay. Then something happened that neither Elaine nor I had any idea was going to happen. Our youngest, Gila, suddenly stood up, came to the stage, stood at the lectern and gave a speech. Now, what do they say in America? She hit it “out of the park”. And it was magnificent.
After the event was over, everyone said to me, “You know, your speech was okay, but Gila, wow, that was something special.”
And I suddenly realised that that was the critical moment. That, and seeing the faces of my other children as Gila was giving that [speech] and they were all so enjoying what she was saying. And I suddenly realised the real rule of parenting.
It is, don’t even think of trying to inspire your children. That is a secondary as it comes. The question is, do we make space for our children to inspire us. Because that is what has happened throughout their lives. Our three children, Josh, and Dina, and Gila, our three children and, kenina hara, our lovely grandchildren, have been sources of inspiration to us.
Give children the space to inspire us, and they will. That is Rule One.
This video series, Inspired Parenting, consists of thirteen short videos of Rabbi Sacks discussing some of the ways we can be inspiring parents and really kindle the flame of Torah in our children.
We hope you will learn, as Rabbi Sacks did, from exploring these ideas.