Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Independence, Fear, Mothering and Writing

Please read this fabulous interview up on the Literary Mama site right now--Susan Ito's interview of Rachel Tzvia Back. Here's a taste of it:

[RTB] One of the things my siblings, who all are raising children here in America, envy is that the culture at large [in Israel] puts its greatest emphasis on family. Everything is structured to promote and sustain family life. Family time in Israel is sacred, while the culture in America doesn’t promote it. There is plenty of rhetoric but it doesn’t happen.

SI: I’m intrigued. Can you give a specific example of that?

RTB: In practical terms, there’s every expectation that everyone is home at 6:30 and they will have a meal together. You’re supposed to be in your family and in your community, both together. There are no sports practices or anything that anyone needs to attend at that family dinner hour. There is also less of this kind of obsessive structuring of time, like "playdates." Children in Israel are much more independent. I don’t need to take them anywhere. There’s a bus that takes them back and forth from school, and they’re completely independent. My six-year-old takes herself to and from the bus and to her afterschool activities. I don’t ever pick them up. These things do not seem to happen here in America.

SI: It’s ironic. There’s much more fear here, and yet the real danger is actually more present where you live.

RTB: It’s true. We really allow children much more independence. We step aside for a moment and everybody grows, and that’s the way it should be. They’re growing, you’re growing. Just yesterday, when I phoned Israel, my husband said: "Wonderful things happen when you go away." They stretch a little, when I am not there taking care of everything. He told me that my 11- and 6-year-old took a 90-minute train trip, which included a transfer, to visit their grandparents, on their own. They did great. The train was full of soldiers, and they had to stand half the way, but they were so proud of themselves and I was so proud of them, and glad for them.

No comments: