Because That’s How I Feel! (Shemini)

It’s the 1st day of the month of Nissan and the divine presence finally inhabits its earthly home in the mishkan (tabernacle). But a day intended to be filled with joy is stained by the death of Aaron’s sons. Their sin? They felt a strong, seemingly legitimate feeling, expressed it and violated a boundary that cost them their life.

This episode leads me to ask: How do we effectively deal with our child’s feelings?  An attuned parent validates her child’s feelings, but that does not mean that she allows every feeling to be expressed in action. She says: “You seem really angry at your teacher” (validation), but she does not condone verbal or physical attacks on him. Why? Because while we are entitled to our inner experience, the world is shared and that requires submitting ourselves to values greater than our personal feelings.

As responsible parents it is our job to both validate their inner world AND teach them the right way to respond.