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Parenting Advice

In my Yom Kippur evening sermon I meditated on technology and its implications to the world of prayer.  What follows are some more insights about smart phones and their potential damaging affects on our children.  I admit it is from the most unlikely of sources, but the wisdom is still sound and worth noting.

Louis C.K. offers this parenting advice: "I'm not here to make them happy....  I'm not raising the children.  I'm raising the grown-ups that they're going to be."

Judaism might reframe this.  Our tradition reminds us that our goal is not happiness but goodness.  Our task as parents is to raise menschen.  Joy is a byproduct sometimes, but not always, of doing right.  Joy and happiness are not as well always synonymous.  Happiness can be realized by what we often call self-fulfillment.  Therein lies the danger.  The self can too often be fulfilled at the expense of others.

That is why looking into the eyes of others and not into the screens we hold in our hands is the better way to nurture the joy that sometimes comes from pursuing the good.  And our tradition would add: even if I do not find this joy, or my child does not, at least someone's hurt has been lifted and goodness has been gained.

Joy should not be our goal.  It results from other actions.  It is only sometimes achieved.  Adding good to our world is instead our sacred task.