Should old annoyance be forgot…

family shadowFrancis and Liz live in a neighborhood with many Orthodox Jews. One of their neighbors’ traditions for the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is called Tashlich, meaning “casting off.” It involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread into a body of flowing water. Just as the water carries away the bits of bread, so too are the sins of the previous year symbolically carried away.

“While our neighbors celebrate their Jewish New Year in the fall, we feel this tradition has something to say to us now as we ring in 2013,” Francis says. “Our friends have reframed New Year’s for us—beyond the typical resolutions. We won’t actually be throwing bread into the water, but we’re applying their idea of ‘casting off’ to those areas of our family life that weren’t so good last year.”

Most parents can find a few areas of family life quietly simmering with negativity, resentment, or unhealthy choices. While sin is a strong word that, for some people, can call to mind fear or guilt, remembering that a sin is anything that separates us from God can help parents identify patterns that require some “casting off” for the new year.

Casting off the irritation. In family life it’s rare that everyone is flourishing at the same time. One child may be the most popular kid in the class, while another is struggling with friendships. One parent gets a promotion, while the other is stuck in a dead-end job.

Emma, a mother of three, has found that the challenge of managing not just her family’s activities but also their emotional ups and downs requires an intentional approach.

“I have a new mantra: Everyone is doing the best he or she can,” she says. “I’m trying to apply it to everyone, from my kids and my mother-in-law and my husband to the clerk at the store, the drivers on the street, and, hardest of all, myself.” Emma says that while she cannot always control the high speed of life with three kids and all their sports, plays, music lessons, and homework, she can control her response to the pace. “If there are aspects of my life that I can’t simplify right now, I believe that at least this new line of thinking will lead to a less stressed-out life.”  …continued next week

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our FaithClaretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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Photo: ©istock/Judy Barranco

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