With Rosh Chodesh Elul a little over a week away, many of you are getting your sons and daughters ready for their year in Israel. How exciting! Their year abroad in Israel will be the biggest step towards adulthood that they’ll ever have taken.
May it only continue with much success!
Still, it’s normal to feel a bit of apprehension. All the endless blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve invested in them from day one will now be tested as never before.
Will they make good choices?
Will they be able get themselves out of the jams of independent adulthood without you being there?
Will this be a year of growth and development?
Rest assured that the schools you and your children have chosen will help them along. Hopefully, their friends will form a network that brings out the best in their year in Israel. And of course, despite the physical distance, you’ll be there for them in spirit as well as through the phone and email.
As a teacher as well as the address to whom yeshiva and seminary students turn when they run into trouble, here are a couple of tips which I’ve ‘collected’ over the years.
Be ready for homesickness. No matter how many summers your children have spent at summer camp, they‘re bound to feel homesick. Being separated from you for Rosh Hashana will be a gigantic shock for your child and for your whole family. It’s at these moments that you and your child need to hear words of encouragement: that you’re proud of them for devoting themselves to their studies and to their personal spiritual growth; that you appreciate their sacrifice all the more because it’s not easy.
Be upfront with them about your expectations of them. Tell them that you want them to grow and learn and to develop. Communicate to them that you expect them to come up with their own goals. They are no longer in high school where teachers set the standards. The direction of their lives is now in their hands.