Value Your Children for Who They Are--Not Who You Need Them to Be
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When she woke up, my colleague instantly knew what her dream meant. “It encapsulated the essence of my relationship with my mother,” she told me. “She’s never been able to see me. And I’ve always tried to comfort her.”
To be seen by those we love and those we’re dependent on–be they parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, officials with power over us–is essential to our sense of self and self-worth.
Despite losing his entire family during the Holocaust, or perhaps because of it, my father was a master at seeing people, listening to them wholeheartedly, making each of them feel special and loved.
My brother’s daughter Miriam fondly remembers early mornings they spent together. “Every time we would visit, I would try to wake up before Nagypapa. Yet every single morning, when I tiptoed out into the kitchen, he would be sitting in his white leather armchair, reading the paper. He would just smile and hand me the comics. After reading, we would walk out into the orchard and pick the best-looking oranges and tangerines in order to make freshly squeezed juice for the family. I loved spending mornings with Nagypapa, reading and making orange juice, because they were our special time together. “
“My favorite memory is the famous four kisses story,” my daughter Sophie proudly stated. “Grandpa would pick us up at the airport and the minute he saw us, he smiled and gave each of us hugs and kisses. ‘Mártika! How wonderful it is to see you!’ he would say to my mom, wrapping his arms around her. ‘Jacobka! How are you? I’ve missed you!’ And finally he would turn to me. ‘Sophieka! How many kisses?’ ‘Four!’ I answered enthusiastically," and Grandpa would kiss me on my cheeks, two on one, two on the other.
Each visit he would ask the same question and I always replied with the same answer, four. Then one day when Grandpa asked, "Sophieka, how many kisses today?" I thought for a moment and replied, ‘Three!" Grandpa looked at me with his warm twinkle in the eye, smiled and said, "That’s not enough!" as he began to give me lots more.
"Every time I relive that story I smile. My Grandpa was a good Grandpa who loved everyone so much and wasn’t afraid to show it.”