Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parenting From Fear

cross posted from

"Fear" is a big word in psychology today. It is one of the most primal, instinctive negative emotions, and it often masquerades as other things. Anger, sadness, and withdrawal can all be disguises for fear.

Very often I've noticed myself parenting out of fear that disguised itself as righteous indignation. I see my kid doing something wrong, and BOOM! Out comes the lecture! Down comes the consequence! Yes, indeed. I am a responsible parent.

But wait, what's that? My racing heart? Why, what's that about? What emotion is really underlying that virtuous parenting moment?

Fear, that's what.

What are we afraid of when we parent out of fear? We're afraid that our kids will slide down some slippery slope. We're afraid to lose control over their behavior. We're afraid others will think we don't have a handle on the situation. But I've seen that when I parent out of fear, 99% of the time I react wrongly. Too harsh, too shrill, bad timing. It's about me, not about my child.

About a week ago I got a very long private Facebook message describing behavior of one of my children that another person observed that was, let's just say, not a nachas note. My first reaction: anger. Which I then quickly diagnosed instead as fear. Of what was I afraid? I was afraid of my child's future. Is that a legitimate fear? When our kids do something wrong, isn't it correct to fear for their future? Well. Yes and no.

Fear that leads to thoughtful contemplation, that then leads to rational, calm decision making: good. Fear that leads to anger that leads to lashing out impulsively: bad. Fear that causes you to do things because of what others will think or not think: very bad.

Adon olam is one of my favorite songs. The last two words of it, slightly less famous than the first two, are: "V'lo ira" - I shall not fear. The entire phrase goes like this: "Hashem li, v'lo ira" - G-d is with me, so I shall not fear. For me the antidote to the primal fear is to strengthen my faith. Nothing bad can touch me while G-d is holding my hand. If something is destined to be, it will be, with or without my fear. Open your hand and release your fear and grasp onto something else instead, which is far more supportive: faith in G-d, faith in your ability to handle life, faith in the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

RELEASE OF MY BOOK: Conversations with God

I think it would be fairly accurate to say that I'm feeling exhilarated at the release of my book. I've been birthing it for two years. I wrote on Mondays and airplanes. I consulted, rewrote, added, and obsessed. And now it's out. It's weird how writing is such a solitary act (as opposed to blogging) and then BOOM! It hits the universe and all of a sudden it's not solitary anymore!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When I Climbed Masada

cross-posted from

The Israel experience I just had with 40-some other friends and family was unforgettable. There were many highs and many precious moments.

But I'm going to tell you about a low. The kind of thing I didn't post on Facebook. And that was the climbing of Masada.

The past few times I'd been to Masada we didn't have the option to climb it. Time was short, it was a large group, and we all just rode the cable car up. But this time around, Patrick, our indefatigable tour guide, offered us the option of the climb.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Year of Healing and Dealing

If 2014 was the year of crying (often) and lying ("I'm fine"), then 2015 was the year of healing and dealing.

2014 was pretty much defined by autism, anxiety, Asperger's, failed attempts, shattered dreams, unrealistic expectations, appointments with doctors and therapists, emails from school, and buried hopes.

But in 2015 we learned to heal. We learned to give ourselves love. We learned to broaden the definitions of people and of labels. We learned, slowly, to love God again and to even, gingerly, seek meaning in our suffering.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Dear blog readers,

Tomorrow, on Thursday, December 17, 2015, we are running a 24-hour online campaign to raise $200,000 for our Jewish education center, JFX. EVERY DOLLAR you donate during this time period - Thursday noon till Friday noon - will  be quadrupled by generous donors in our community!

If you believe in the message of OOTOB, if you believe in Jewish education, if you value things you have read here or if they have provoked thought, please consider joining our campaign and donating any amount large or small. I greatly appreciate it! Share with friends and family and help us inspire others. Together we can do this! - starting Thursday at noon Eastern Standard Time. Thank you!!

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Monday, November 30, 2015

What's Up

Hey OOTOB readers,

It's been quiet on the blog lately. Maybe because it's been really busy around here (a lot of travel) or maybe because I haven't been struck with the muse. Figured I'd check in and say hi.


The ugly truth is that I've never actually trained to be a writer. I write, therefore I'm a writer (like "I blog, therefore I'm a blogger"). I've always felt that talent comes in two flavors: the kind no one can do but talented people; and the kind anyone can do, but some can actually do really well. For instance, cartwheels and the splits and eating cars (not recommended) would be in the first category; writing and speaking in the second.

I started blogging over four years ago and via blogging have hopefully become a better writer. But I've never been trained. I took the liberty of asking a cousin of mine who's a published author and editor of a magazine what his training looked like, or if he was self-taught, and he responded: self-taught but with great mentors. Then he recommended a book on writing, which is a dog-chasing-its-tail proposition if I ever heard one. You know, in a good way.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yes. Gymnastics in a Skirt

This past week, Allison Josephs of Jew in the City published a piece of mine about my 12-year-old daughter and her synthesis of gymnastics and modesty. You'll need to read the piece in order to follow this post, so go ahead and read it. I'll wait.