Israel is observing Yom HaMishpacha or Family Day on February 12, and so this week on The Times of Israel’s weekly podcast Times Will Tell we’re speaking with Einat Nathan, a leading Israeli parenting guru.
The holiday originally began in 1947 as Mother’s Day, but it evolved in the 1990s to honor the equal contribution of both parents in raising a family. Nathan will discuss how that ostensible equality is being increasingly tested during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Nathan is publishing a new English-language book, “My Everything: The Parent I want to be, the children I hope to raise.” (It’s even been endorsed by another Israeli wonder woman, Gal Gadot.)
Nathan is a mother of five children, ranging from 21 to 8. As host Amanda Borschel-Dan is a mother of six kids aged 17-8, the two women had a bit of a schmooze in a wide-ranging conversation on raising kids during the coronavirus pandemic (aka mothers on the verge of a nervous breakdown) and how to dispel the fantasy of the perfect family in order to enjoy the wonder of reality.
As she writes in the book, her path to parenting was fraught with loss. She describes in frank detail how losing twin boys to stillbirth at week 39 turned her into the parent she is today.
Her overarching approach is to go back to basics and allow children to deal with pain and work out their own problems, all the while knowing that they are supported by “reliable, relaxed parents — that are present.”
That takes a lot of work for one who is new to the “practice of parenting,” she says.
“It’s about letting your child get his heart broken, or not having his way, or failing, or even struggling for something, or not hovering or moving away any obstacle,” she explains.
“It’s about us being okay with, let’s say, her dressing horribly, or him deciding when he’s not hungry anymore, and them deciding that they hate us and speaking it out loud, because children can’t use the specific emotional vocabulary, so they act it out.
“And at the same time, we need to take our ego, put it into a bag, close the zipper and kick it so far away that we won’t even remember we had one. Now that sounds like a difficult mission,” she says, laughing.
She preaches a parenting Torah that includes responsibility, proportions, reasonable expectations, gratitude, and simple joy.
“Everybody wants independent kids, and everybody loves their children. But maybe love is not enough,” she says.