Different Strokes for Different Folks

July 21st, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 4 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

Recently, I found myself with two children who, one right after the other, made identical comments that were not appropriate for that time.  You may or may not be surprised to hear that I responded very differently to each child even though the issue was identical.  Why would I do that?  Well, the same reason you do it!  As any mother or teacher knows, the point of responding is not to get anything off my chest or to play my scripted role and simply say lines that are pre-determined as the response for this particular action.  No.  My response isn’t for my own sake, but for the sake of my child. Therefore, my reaction had to be different to each child because each child is different and each one needed something different from me in that moment. 

We have a reminder of this principle in chapter 20 of Numbers.  Here, we have the very enigmatic story of God commanding Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water for the nation. Instead Moses struck the rock, leading to the decree that Moses wouldn’t lead the nation into Israel.  There are so many questions and so many lessons we can learn from this story, but I would like to share just one angle with you today.

Forty years before this point the nation also needed water (Exodus 17), and believe it or not, God commanded Moses to hit the rock to make water flow.  Why was hitting the right response at that time, but 40 years later hitting was inappropriate and talking should have occurred?  What’s the difference? 

The audience is different!  40 years earlier, the children of Israel had just left slavery.  They were just beginning to come together as a spiritual nation and they still, so to speak, spoke the harsh physical language of slavery. Hitting and physical force seemed a natural and appropriate step for people who had just come out of 210 years of physical slavery.  But now, 40 years later, it is a new generation which needs water. This generation has had 40 years of Moses’s leadership and Torah learning, and they are about to enter Israel, a land sensitive to subtle spiritual behaviors.  This generation didn’t need to learn about physical force, they needed to learn how to use subtle and spiritual powers like speech to influence nature. 

This explains why God tells Moses, “Since you HIT the rock rather than speaking to it, you will not lead the Jewish people into the Land of Israel”.  The nation needed a different style of leadership at this point in time than the one they needed 40 years earlier.  The desired result was identical – water from a rock, but the response was different because the nation was different and needed to learn something different.

I believe serves as a powerful reminder to us parents to modulate our responses to each child individually.  One size does not fit all; rather it’s different strokes for different folks!  It’s empowering for our children to know that we speak to each of them h individually and treat them individually because they are individuals. We honor and respect their individuality by acknowledging who they are apart from their siblings and trying to give each one what they need from us one by one.   We can ask ourselves before we speak, “What tone of voice, what words, what response does my child need from me right now?” and try to act accordingly.

Tags: , ,

4 comments

Umaefulam Ugochukwu N. says:

In my culture, basing on how we were raised and trying to do same for today’s children is making patenting difficult. Thanks for the post; very instructive.

Umaefulam Ugochukwu N. says:

Please include me in your weekly teaching on parenting.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Umaefulam, for wanting to read Practical Parenting. As of now, we do not send an email notification for it. Instead links for the newest Practical Parenting are available on all of our other mailings (Thought Tools, Ask the Rabbi, Susan’s Musings and podcast notifications.) You can also like and follow my page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SusanLapinsPage/ to see new posts. And you can always check in and see what is up at the page itself: https://rabbidaniellapin.com/category/practical-parenting/.

Steve Vasquez says:

I can’t help myself. I have to say, WOW! Such practical yet powerful words and thoughts. Such clarity. I’ve read the account of Moses and the rock many times but only in a cursory manner only to have lingering doubts and questions. AJW is truly amazing. Thanks you for yours and Rabbi Daniel’s work.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Comments will be posted after approval by our moderator, so you will not see your comment immediately.

Leave a Reply to Susan Lapin Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.This is a required field!

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

X