> Family > Heart of Matter

Facing the World: A Daughter's Relection

May 8, 2009 | by

As she crosses the threshold from her teens into adulthood, a young woman takes stock of who she has to thank for her confidence and love of life.

For a long time I was convinced that my parents had nothing to do with my upbringing. I was sure that I raised myself and my parents' sole purpose was to hamper my style. Now I am not so sure. I think that maybe they had a little to do with how I turned out and deserve some of the credit.

I was a rotten adolescent and it must have been dreadful living with me. I loved slamming doors and rolling my eyes at everything my parents said. I knew for a fact that I was the most misunderstood person on the planet. I don't know how my parents were so accepting and patient. They actually made me feel that I was brilliant and witty and lovable and a source of pride. If I had been my parents, I would have disowned myself long ago.

Parents, take heart ... your moody, impossible teen will get over it. I promise.

In any case, it's a good thing they kept me because I turned out pretty well. So parents, take heart... your moody, impossible teen will get over it. I promise.

Although my mother has a number of doubts as to her success as a parent, I think my parents are nearly perfect. God knows I did not always think so. In fact there were times that I thought they were the most unbearable people on earth and made them suffer for it. Now I know they were doing what they knew was to be best for me.

Then the time came for me, the first-born, to leave the nest. Two months after my high school graduation I was on a plane to Israel for a year of intensive Jewish studies in a girls' seminary. My parents sent me off with plenty of shampoo and warm clothes, and some things that are even more important: tremendous confidence in myself, a fierce pride in my Jewishness, a firm trust in God, and a crazy love of life. I was scared of nothing. Just as surely as I knew that my mother would cry at the airport, I was certain that I would not. My parents had prepared me well ... I knew that I was ready to face the world


Thank God I adjusted to my new lifestyle quickly and easily. I have been in Israel for about five months now and am very happy. I love my independence. I have made awesome friends and am having so much fun. I am going new places and meeting new people. I am learning Torah and doing well in school. And for better or worse, I am still as full of myself as ever.

Although I miss my parents more than I ever thought I would, I am not homesick at all. I know that whenever I need them, they are only a phone call -- with a 10-hour time difference -- away.

My parents continue to smooth my path wherever I go, and they don't even know they are doing it.

And they continue to smooth my path without even knowing it. My parents' reputation precedes me everywhere I go. People look at me with new respect when they hear who my parents are. I am proud of them and proud of what they do. I feel like wearing a nametag that says, "Hi, my name is Dena. My parents are Rabbi Dov and Chana Heller, and they work for Aish."

I have always loved being part of the Aish community in L.A. It's been my life, and I know now that Jewish outreach is my passion. I want to help the Jewish people like my parents ... it's in my blood. That is what I am most indebted to my parents for.

I am not saying that I am all grown-up. I still do stupid things and thank God my parents don't know about them. But I do want them to know how much I love them and appreciate everything they've done for me. They have made me who I am and I am proud to be their daughter. I only hope I can live up to their standards and repay them for a fraction of what they have given me.

My parents are so wise and dedicated, so loving and caring, so calm and level-headed. All my life people have been telling me how lucky I am to have parents like mine. Now it is my turn to thank God for giving me the best parents in the world.

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram