Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Created in Wisdom: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Mother and Child: A Jewish Perspective
by Marilyn Tokayer, Distributed by Feldheim
Reviewed by Judith Weil

A mother of what is becoming a large family recently described her experience with her first child. "I had been told that education begins at birth, and I didn't want to spoil her. So I didn't dare pick her up when she cried. It is such a shame. I had the time then, with no other children to care for. Now I know I should have held her and let her feel how much I loved her."

We live in an era of specialization, of job expertise, of career training -- and woe betide us if we apply for a job for which we are not qualified!

But for the most important job in the world, parenting, and especially mothering, no one demands that we be taught anything at all. We learn "on the job" and often don't even have a teacher.

No wonder that even experienced mothers often still feel like amateurs.

It was different in the old days. There were huge family support systems. Older daughters learned from mothers, and did their apprenticeship on their younger siblings under the watchful eyes of grandmothers, parents and aunts. When the turn came for the younger members of the family, they gained their experience by caring for nieces and nephews.

This arrangement still sometimes applies today where large extended families live in close proximity. But more often nowadays, people live in nuclear families, far from their parents and adult brothers and sisters. Young couples leave their families behind on the American continent, in Europe or elsewhere, to make aliya. They themselves often grew up in small families and had no personal prior experience of baby- care. In Israel, religious young families mostly live in less expensive towns like Kiryat Sefer and Betar, leaving their parents behind in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak.

It is for this reason that "Created in Wisdom: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Mother and Child: A Jewish Perspective" is a useful handbook. It is written woman to woman (although fathers are addressed, too), and can be read through, and then dipped into when necessary. Based on halachic sources, but not ignoring modern medical and psychological research, it gives a young mother the confidence to do what she feels is right.

The book has haskomos from HaRav Nachman Bulman and HaRav Zev Leff.

Subjects covered range from "On Spirituality and Mothering" through "Early Tactile Experience and Future Behavior" to the "Physiological Benefits of Rocking." The author does not avoid the more worrying aspects of mothering, such as the possibility of encountering and doing everything possible to avert such phenomena as post- natal depression, premature birth, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Had the then-young mother referred to above possessed this book, she wouldn't have erred the way she did.

And I'm sorry it was not available when I first became a mother.


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