Arq Becoming a Parent Kit
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Welcome to Arq's crowdsourced kit of personal stories and tips for deepening the spiritual experience of becoming a parent!

Want to hear our own take? Read Arq's 3-part guide to becoming a parent: https://goo.gl/qVDWST. It's rooted in, but not exclusive to, Jewish wisdom and ritual.
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❤️ Rules of Engagement ❤️
Please respect and honor the contributions of everyone who has shared their personal stories and tips here. Do not edit or delete someone else's entries. Everyone's experience with becoming a parent is different - listen, learn, and love, don't judge or correct. And thank you for helping to deepen the meaning of this life-changing experience for each other!
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NameTagsSuggestion
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Faith Leenerpreparing, letting go, Jewish values, marriage, lossI try to always emphasize that you cannot PREPARE for a child and the disruption it causes to your life - your sense of self, your relationship with your partner, your family dynamics, your work, everything shifts, and continue to do so. To try and prepare is somewhat unrealistic and can make you feel completely overwhelmed or like a failure because its nothing like what you imagine, for better and worse. It's both way harder and offers way more joy that you can understand when its an abstract concept.

Don't over inflate your ability to control or define what your life, or child, will be like. The most important thing in the process of parenthood (beyond protecting your child and sharing your love) is, I think, self-compassion. Each day, each moment, you try again. And together, as a couple, you think about what you want to be unified on (is that keeping certain times sacred-- like Shabbat? or celebrating certain rituals -- like Havdallah? Or Rosh Chodesh?) IN THE SERVICE OF TEACHING A CERTAIN LESSON/IDEA OR VALUE.

The first question is, thus, what are the values of Judaism that are most dear and important to me, and to us, and what are physical embodied, or ritual opportunities we can enact in our home? Simultaneously, where do we diverge in our beliefs or practices and how can we honor that diversity and teach tolerance and pluralism?

With Hudi, I'm currently trying to think about ways to make my dad (who I lost) more alive for him - I am in the process of making a Shutterfly book which is the story of his life and will introduce Hudi to him through Hudi's favorite bedtime routine, which is reading books
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Rebecca Greenmixed race, multicultural, Jewish values, identity, community, diversityAs a mixed race couple, there were definitely some very intense conversations which needed to be had if we were going to take the next step together. Before we were married, we discussed my cultural connection to Judaism and although Jason would not convert, we agreed that we would retain and celebrate both cultures together - and with our family as it grows. Communication was very important to determine the decision to raise our children Jewish - it helped that Jason does not affiliate strongly with any religion and is generally open minded, but we did talk at length about being comfortable in a synagogue, raising children Jewish, sending children to Jewish camp and visiting Israel. These were not areas I was willing to compromise on because they were a strong influence in my character development and was nervous to bring up prior to us becoming serious.

Before we became parents, we definitely talked a lot about identity - both that of ours (mine Jewish, his Korean) - and that of our unborn children. We not only explored what was underneath each of our own associations to our heritage, but also what as kids we resented or didn’t appreciate fully which we do as adults. The second piece was really the pinnacle since we want to ensure that our children don’t feel like they *have to* participate in certain ways out of obligation, but would embrace the beauty and history behind the reasons why we celebrate. Therefore, as we raise our children, they will be exposed to both cultures and empowered to take on their own identity as they grow.

The other thing we have discussed ad nauseum is to ensure we live in an environment where mixed race families are plentiful (aka liberal, urban environments) otherwise, children may feel outnumbered and alone in the exploration of their mixed heritage. It is extremely important for us that our children feel proud of the diversity of their background and have the opportunity to share their experiences with like-minded peers.
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Zohar AvigdoriLGBT, fatherhood, Israel, co-parentingBeing gay and living on a kibbutz that is recreating and restructuring the concept - for example, households are groups of people who choose each other (some are romantic, but not all are) - has allowed me to not pursue the heteronormative family aspiration in the way that my straight friends have. I don't have to follow that linear path of meeting someone, dating, getting married, moving in together, and having kids. I also have lots of good examples of different ways to have kids - I'm friends with a straight couple that lives in different communities and raises their kids in 2 houses, two straight women raising kids together from sperm donations, a straight couple and a gay friend raising a kid together and they don't know who the father is (purposely).

Even though I hadn't been pursuing fatherhood actively, I realized I didn't want to be a non-parent after a friend came to me and said that a woman on my kibbutz was thinking about shared parenthood and was considering me as a potential father. I said let's do it. It was like Hashem was saying, "Dude, I've tailored a suit for you. You can't not wear this suit." We met, we talked about it, we went on our own journeys of thinking about it, then we came back together and met weekly for 6 months with a prepared conversation or prompt each time (like watching a documentary about shared parenthood in Israel), and it became clear that we thought of parenting in the same way. We put together a parenting agreement, but we also knew a lot it would be tentative until we met our child.
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Sashka RothchildMusic, Judaism, toddlers, car ridesThis popped into my head the other day when experiencing a moment of guilt at not "doing more" at our temple with Lucian. He goes to preschool there two days a week but I still found myself judging my "am I exposing him to enough, teaching him enough, am I solidifying his Jewish core enough??" feelings. (Whatever that means). Then I realized I had sort of fallen into a little life hack for killing two birds with one stone if you will and that is, using our rides in the car as a way to play the Jewish music that is important to me and sing along so he knows I know it, it is meaningful and hope he joins along. What has happened is that now, most 30 minute car rides on the way to and from preschool are filled with Debbie Friedman sing a longs and him asking "for our favorite song" on loop (Miriam's song). There are so many ways to bring memories and meaningful aspects of what being Jewish feels like for you into your busy life with your kid even if you can't make it to temple as often as you would like. Appropriating my phone and car stereo has been one of them.
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