So here we are, about two months into the roller coaster that is Aliyah, and we have so much to be grateful for… there is so much to talk about, but as a mother there is something clear and simple I have noticed that speaks volumes.

My kids have been freed.  

Let me explain.

I notice in my time in America that many parents treat their parenting style like they are picking an outfit out to wear on a runway. Your parenting style has to look good on Instagram. We now have a label for every type of style. We define ourselves by these labels. It is no longer what makes sense or what flows from your intuition. Are you a Tiger Mom or a Free Range Mama?  Helicopter Mom or Lighthouse Mom? Do you adhere to Attachment Parenting or Hands Free Parenting?

In general this doesn’t seem to be the case here in Israel – I think because the society is much more kid-oriented. Kids take the lead here, and parents do their best with their Gd-given abilities.  Children know how to push their own limits and set their own boundaries – and often they push themselves more than we ever would have let them otherwise.

Children take on more responsibilities earlier – I have sent my 6 year-old down the street to the mekolet to buy bread.  In gan my 4 year-old sets the table with her friends for lunch – laying down a tablecloth, opening food etc… They take care of their own space. When I run out of eggs in the middle of a recipe, I’m able to send any one of my kids out the door to borrow one. The confidence it gives my kids is immeasurable.

I have also noticed while dropping my children off at school, that parents don’t have their cell phones out. They are focused on the task of dropping off their child. They are heading to work and they don’t really care if the world knows they had an omelette and cappuccino for breakfast, #yummybreakfast.

While at school my children have the opportunity to participate in gardening, dance, sports, music/art, etc.  These are looked at as valuable and important in a child’s development and not an ‘extracurricular’ activity that involves toting your kid around after a long day at school. Recess is longer and the school day shorter. This formula gives kids time to be kids! Most life skills are not learned behind a desk – they are built through experience.

As I watch my children on Shabbos afternoon, welcoming their friends and running to their friends’ houses freely, I cannot express my gratitude. We are part of an amazing, loving and welcoming community. This culture of independence combined with the Neve Chabad kehila is the most fertile ground for parenting I could ever hope for.

When you take a step back and look at the next generation you realize the incredible potential before us.  These children will be limitless. Parenting them is a gift – not a post.