There’s a famous story in the Talmud in which a curious wanderer asks Rabbi Shammai to teach him the Torah on one foot. He wanted the sound bite, the bumper sticker summary of Jewish values and teachings. Shammai thought the guy was being sassy and chased him away with a stick.
Rabbi Hillel, however, took the traveler seriously and answered his question: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”
My last book, “How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids,” was about taming our inner Shammais. I have yet to meet a parent who can’t relate to the desire to chase our kids away with a stick from time to time.
My new book, “You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent,” is an exploration of Hillel’s teachings, but in the reverse: “That which is hateful to your neighbor, do not do to yourself.”
I’m talking about self-compassion, the antidote to the shame and blame that so many of us struggle with. Whether it’s the ketchup soup we fed the kids for dinner, the missed deadline for after-school sign-ups, or the rage- and exhaustion-fueled explosion, chances are you’ve thought of yourself as a shitty parent at some point. Shoot, if you’re like many parents I know, you might be thinking it so often you don’t even notice anymore, and that feels awful and makes everything harder.
I know from experience.
You can read the rest of this article, and more about my experience, on Kveller.com.