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Family Business - a mother of eleven speaks out

June 22, 2020 Rabbi Moss Season 1 Episode 4
Hey Rabbi
Family Business - a mother of eleven speaks out
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Hey Rabbi
Family Business - a mother of eleven speaks out
Jun 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Rabbi Moss

Meet Nechama Dina, a devoted mother, communal figure and unapologetic champion of big families, who shares her easy-to-implement parenting tricks that are good for one kid or eleven. Hear her unique perspective on tantrums, over-population, giving attention, and deciding whether or not to have another child.

Support the show (http://PayPal.me/nefeshshul)

Show Notes Transcript

Meet Nechama Dina, a devoted mother, communal figure and unapologetic champion of big families, who shares her easy-to-implement parenting tricks that are good for one kid or eleven. Hear her unique perspective on tantrums, over-population, giving attention, and deciding whether or not to have another child.

Support the show (http://PayPal.me/nefeshshul)

Rabbi Moss  

Okay, hi, Nechama Dina, thank you so much for coming on the show. 

 

Nechama Dina  

Thanks for inviting me. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

Absolute pleasure. So you're a mother of 11 kids, can I know her without any evil eye? So let me ask you like walking down the street with 11 kids going into public? What's the strangest comment you've ever received from a stranger about having such a big family? 

 

Nechama Dina  

So the truth is, it's an interesting question. And frequently, I get a lot of very positive comments. People look at me very positively or when I tell people that I've got 11 children. A lot of people are very supportive. I have to say, especially here in Australia, people are impressed and are very supportive. I was at the doctor's the other day, she pulled me aside and she started asking me questions and giving me a lot of support. So generally, it's been very supportive and have gotten some very strange comments over the years. One of them which Sort of pops into my mind is when someone asked me about the world population, and how can I have 11 children? Considering that we know that, you know, resources are scarce and I'm sort of taking more than my share. I think that was the sort of most interesting, funniest, confronting question, and I've ever I've ever gone. What do you say to that? Well, I said to the person, something that I once heard someone else, say with a large family, and I thought it was very insightful. It depends what type of children you're raising. If you're raising even one child, to be a consumer, to be a taker, and to just take from the world, then that's true. You're right. I've, I'm, I'veover done my share. But if you are raising children, to be givers, and to contribute to society and to contribute to the world, then please, let's I'll have more. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

Well, that's a powerful answer. And I can testify that your kids are certainly contributing to the world  positively. But having said that, having 11 kids, children requires attention, undivided attention. And that's probably the most important thing that you can give a child is just your presence. How can you possibly as one human being give 11 children, undivided attention?

 

Nechama Dina  

It's an interesting question. And I personally think that a bigger problem today that we face is that kids are suffering not from a lack of attention, but suffering from too much attention. And I have seen repeatedly children who their parents put so much focus on every move every step, every decision, they are completely involved in criticising or noticing and the children feel safe. So much pressure. But sometimes I think it's nice for a child just to be allowed to do things on their own without someone watching and commenting on their every single move. So I think it would probably be not a bad idea for many parents to step aside and allow their children to flourish on their own and guide them much more than giving them undivided attention constantly. Having said that, obviously, the kids still do need a lot of attention. I'm certainly not saying that they shouldn't be getting attention. And I think that especially in a large family, finding time for each child, whether it's just a few minutes a day and making sure those moments really count is very, very critical. So for example, when some of the kids come home from school, there are a few kids that I try and spend time with. Then there are other children I'll spend time with during bed time. There are other children and my husband and I We both do bedtime. So that's really helpful. So we can each spend time with different kids. And then usually once the younger kids are asleep, we have time with the older kids, which is separate as well. But I think being in tune with what your children need, doesn't always take a full undivided intention on an individual. I think that's actually too much pressure on a child. My kids also give each other a lot of attention. My little two year old right now get so much attention. I hope it's even healthy because the entire family's crazy over here, they give much more attention than when I had two kids and what my two year old god

 

Rabbi Moss  

Okay, so, so in a way the attention is spread over the kids also provide attention to the younger ones

 

Nechama Dina  

much more attention and so much detail and have fun with them. And so there's a family dynamic that's going on constantly and then Yes, there needs to be opportunity to have private time with differentials. Right? And that happens and you need to make that you need to be conscious of that. But there's a family dynamic that's going on constantly, where people are getting attention from each other committee look, 

 

Rabbi Moss  

you say a few minutes of like, one on one more personal attention every day. But that times 11. That's pretty huge. Like, what would you say to a parent who says like, I've got two kids, and I'm going nuts, just trying to keep up with everything that they need.You got 11 How do you do it? 

 

Nechama Dina  

So I think when you have 11, or over a certain number, the children are really forced to become much more independent. And this is a very important thing for their character. And this is a very important thing for their skills in their life. So I spoke to a parent once and she had two children and she was really, really struggling her children. were seven and nine. And she was still dressing them in the morning. My three year old, my four year old, knows how to dress themselves, because they don't have a choice. And this makes them feel good about themselves. It builds their confidence, it builds their skills for life. And so if you are micromanaging your children, that's true. But when your children are getting themselves breakfast, and the older children are automatically helping the younger children, that is such a positive thing for those older children, they're learning to be leaders. They're learning to be parents, they're learning how to give, they're learning to be role models already, perhaps at the age of seven. So there is a lot of that happening in the family where older children are not even thinking about it. They're automatically looking after younger children. And that's how we manage and the kids are all so much more independent and are probably Not as fussy about every single detail about the kids every single moment because it's okay. So it also teaches you to be a lot more relaxed with the kids, and not to have such a high standard if they didn't make their bed that morning. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

So, automatic release, parents disciplining themselves, like holding back a bit from  being to helicopter and to involve 

 

Nechama Dina  

absolutely, absolutely, and the amount ofpersonality independence and creativity, even that comes out when you hold back. And you just allow the kids to figure things out for themselves much more, and you're just in the background guiding them is infinitely more valuable for those children. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

So I guess in your case, you're forced to do that because there's 11 you can't afford to be over, you know, on top of every single detail of their life. But what you're suggesting is even if you've got two kids, then you have to self discipline.Give that space. 

 

Nechama Dina  

Yeah. And I think it would benefit a lot of parents to pretend that they had more kids.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Okay?

 

Nechama Dina  

Or to have more kids so that they can have this dynamic going on which I see over and over with more children, the kids step up and they find the resources within themselves. Again, you need to be positive, and show them and empower them to do this. This is not about neglecting or leaving the kids. It's about noticing, guiding, encouraging. And sometimes that's just through words, while you might be, I might be sitting on the couch, feeding the baby and guiding the kids on how to do what they need to do. And that's how they learn.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Well, so if I could become something you said that was quite counterintuitive, let's say somebody who is sort of struggling with, you know, two kids, three kids, and like you're suggesting what might help is to have another child? 

 

Nechama Dina  

Yeah, absolutely. I personally found the most difficult time as a parent was when I had all young children. So say when the oldest was four, and I might have had four children, that's where they're not quite independent yet. And you still need to be much more physically involved. Thank God at that stage, I still had evenings, the kids would go to bed and I would have the evenings quiet to sort of recharge. But I would say that a lot of parents who have three kids and they feel like they're on the edge, that if those three children are young, that's probably the hardest stage of parenting. Once. There's that tipping point where the kids are a little bit older, and they're much more helpful. That's when you really see this whole dynamic happening. And that takes a lot of effort in the younger years. But then you can really see the results as everyone's grown.

 

Rabbi Moss  

up so I've heard your philosophy is that after five it gets much easier Is that right? 

 

Nechama Dina  

Definitely. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

Okay so so don't give up till at least the past five months 

 

Nechama Dina  

and it gets easier with more

 

Rabbi Moss  

amazing. okay? Now you not only are a mother but you're also a communal figure you teach you you run a community a show and you give classes your you put on events, you counsel people. So, you could be like described as a working mother as well. How can you balance a big family with huge work and communal obligations and how do you how do you how do you juggle the two?

 

Nechama Dina  

It definitely sometimes can be a bit of a struggle. Firstly, always prioritise prioritising the family is the number one thing that if there is a conflict then prioritise the family. 

 

Nechama Dina  

Another thing as well is that my kids are very involved in the community events. And often they are the ones suggesting things doing a lot of the definitely the technical side of it and the computer side of it, because I'm completely clueless. They're years ahead of me in that way. So involving the children in that work, has also made a lot of that work, a family thing. And it's only been an opportunity for bonding and for teaching them our values of helping other people. So if we're going to deliver food, or we're going to cook food, or we're going to put on an event, understanding why we're doing this, and hopefully this is impacting them so that when they're older, they're going to want to do the same with their family and for themselves.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Hmm, so it's an educational experience for them. So they're part of the work as well as much as possible.

 

Rabbi Moss  

And I guess like with 11 Kids also there's gonna be different personalities, 

 

Nechama Dina  

absolutely every single one of them. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

So how do you give each one what they need? Like how do you how do you, I guess, have the ability to switch modes from one child to another to provide each one their particular needs like don't you fall into a pattern of just treating them all like cookie cutter the same 

 

Nechama Dina  

there is no way that I can treat them as cookie cutter at the same it just doesn't happen. Each one is so unique, so different, any something else, that it would just backfire completely. There's no way I don't have like a military way of doing things were quite relaxed at home and I try and give the kids as much space as possible. To do what they want to explore. So,large family, there's a lot of opportunity for kids to express their strengths. So if someone's really good at nurturing a younger child, they'll have that opportunity. If someone's really good at organising, they'll have an opportunity. If someone's really good atbeing playful and fun, they're going to have that opportunity. So in many ways, they use their skills in creating this dynamic that I'm speaking about.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Okay, well, I guess the time this would be really tested is during the corona when locked down and everyone was at home. So can you share with us how did it look in your home, having everybody from high school kids to kindergarten kids All homeschooling all home all day. 

 

Nechama Dina  

So I have to say that it was probably one of my highlights better than a family holiday. It was just the most incredible period of family time together. We had kids ranging from the age of 17 to 10 months. The beauty of it was that there was nowhere to go and there was no pressure to go anywhere. So we'd wake up, it was very, very relaxed. And it was really an opportunity where I was able to observe so much creativity and so much interaction between the kids and it was hectic and busy. I don't think I stopped from 7am till midnight, and then waking up in the middle of the night for the baby so I didn't even have a moment to think but it was just this golden era in my life where I feel like we had so much family time in a really relaxed, calm way. Because there was no external pressure of having to be anywhere, go anywhere. Have any one over it was just the most amazing time. Like I say it was so so busy like I really did not even have an opportunity to analyse it at the time because it was so busy. But in the same time it was so rich and we learn together we laugh together we made pay soft together, we just did so many. We cooked and I found that the kids really explored a lot of things which they don't normally get the opportunity to do because there's always something else that they have to do or somewhere they have to go. online school was really not fun. I would have much more For to switch off the screen and just school the kids myself in a very different way rather than than zooming into a class, which wasn't really a class. I found that to be quite challenging. 

 

Nechama Dina  

But after about a week of that I just took off the pressure and I thought what we do we do and what we don't do, we don't do everyone's good or survive. What's most important is that we hold together as a family in a really positive atmosphere. And so once I relaxed that pressure, that was really beneficial. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

I'm listening to this and thinking, Oh, my goodness, like, this sounds like some idyllic family where everything is so good and positive and happy and no struggles and no difficulties like it. Is that really how it is like surely there are hard times 

 

Nechama Dina  

Yeah, very hard times. But I think when you wake up in the morning and you don't have an expectation and you know Know that it's gonna be hard. And you're prepared for that we all put effort into different things into in our lives, you'll have people who want to be a doctor, and they will work 20 hours a day and sleep in the hospital, and they put all their effort into something, but you feel like this thrill from working so hard. But if you choose to invest that energy into your family, and you know that you're going to be up for a challenge, and you know, it's going to test your patience, and you know that everyone's going to have moments where they're going to flare up. But you see these as opportunities to work on yourself and to help that child and to die that child, then you don't see this as a negative thing. But you see this as another opportunity. So are there moments where I'm challenged? Absolutely. There's no question. But if we can view those moments, as if the top child's having a tantrum, what's really going inside what's really happening with with this child What's the child really asking for? Are they asking for more attention? Are they asking for more independence? Are they frustrated because they're not being heard on a certain level. So if you see each behaviour as an opportunity to try and connect deeper with your child, and you wake up in the morning and know that there's going to be challenges, it's going to be hard, but you're prepared to face that, then it just means that those challenges are not seen as a negative thing. They're just seen as another opportunity. Often I hear people talk about parenting, and they talk about, you know, if you want your child to do this, and this so you do this and this and if you want your child to listen, and this is how you need to behave. This is not a just about having a goal that I need my child to do X, Y and Zed. This is about connecting to my child and understanding what they're going through. So if this behaviour is coming up, and it's a negative behaviour, what's prompting that behaviour, maybe I need To change my tactic maybe I remember my daughter was in the middle of a massive tantrum. And I just sat down on the floor with her. And I said, What's wrong? Why are you doing this? It wasn't because I'm trying to get a certain result. It's because I want to understand her. And she sort of calmed down. And she looked at me and started talking. And we had this conversation, and then she went to bed quite happily. It wasn't about me getting her into bed, it was understanding why she's so frustrated. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

And so I want to pick up on what you just mentioned about a tantrum, which every parent you know, has to face when kids are just completely irrational, refusing to go to bed or refusing to get dressed or to come to the car to go to school. And, you know, screaming and shouting, do you have some magical technique of how to get a kid out of a tantrum? 

 

Nechama Dina  

If it's magical and again, looking at the source of the tantrum is always helpful. One technique I do employ Very frequently is I speak to the kids a lot about this concept that we have a good side and a bad side, we have a good voice and a bad voice within us. In Hebrew, it's a, it's yetzer hora, and yetzer tov. And I try and make sure that the kids identify themselves with their good voice. And sometimes there's a bad voice that tries to get them away from what they want to do. So I'm teaching them about their nature. And the challenges that they're going to have in their future that they're going to face right now might be about a lollipop. And it might be about getting in the car or putting on their shoes. But as we all get older, I want to give them the skills of how to have self control. So I'm really looking at it from a self control perspective. And each one of us, children and adults have a good voice and a bad voice within our head that tries to tempt us to do things and a conscious that trying to stop us from doing other things. So we call it the yetzer tov  and the yetzer hora. And I say to them Who's gonna win is going to be your yetzer hora, that bad voice? Or are you going to be the winner? , so that if they listen to their good voice, they become a winner rather than a loser. And if they listened to the bad voice, then they haven't been able to overcome that this time. And I would say it would work 99% of the time. And what it does as well is that sometimes if they're fighting with someone else, so let's say there are two children who are having a conflict. And I say to them, are you going to listen to you to her or creates a type. So now if they give in, they're actually a winner, not a loser, because they've given in and they've overcome their internal negativity. So maybe they've given in and the other person has won, but they are the truer, deeper winner. So I always want the kids to walk away knowing that when they do the right thing, they are the winner. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

So yeah, that's that's fascinating cuz you're then taking like the natural competitive nature of a child, or even even their aggression. And you're turning it on their own bad side, 

 

Nechama Dina  

correct. So that they should always be fighting internally, rather than fighting externally with someone else. So even if you give in, and you feel you walk away, but you know that you are the true winner, because you identify with your good voice, 

 

Rabbi Moss  

and the child can relate to such an abstract concept, you're telling them about it like this, this voice in the spiritual idea, 

 

Nechama Dina  

absolutely. And sometimes we put on voices as well. So I say to her as coming and you know, we put on this negative voice and we act it all out. And that also helps snap them out of whatever the moment is. And we put on the nice voice for the good voice. And we can talk about the conflict that they're going through, but making it almost like a drama outside of that, and they can see it more objectively that way. And they can also analyse it in a very basic way. And then, you know, listen to the yetzer tov. So sometimes we act it out and we put on the voices Absolutely, they can completely understand because they know that that's what's happening inside of them. And they all want to listen to the yetzer tov

 

Rabbi Moss  

 I guess you've also depersonalised, they're evil, then it's not that you are bad, it's that you have a bad voice that is trying to get you. 

 

Nechama Dina  

And we do and we do as adults. And most significantly, a part of education is not just getting kids to do what you want. But to teach them the skills of things that they're going to face as they get older in a more sophisticated way. If I can give in now than when I'm older, and there's something bigger in my marriage, I'll also be able to give in because there's a bigger picture at play. And that makes me a winner, not a loser.

 

Rabbi Moss  

So going along the lines of those spiritual ideas and like introducing spiritual ideas to children, even at such a young age where someone might think that that's too abstract for them, but you're saying no, not at all that 

 

Nechama Dina  

they are very, very concrete, and it's very real, and it's very true kids recognise when something's true And they recognise the truth with what I'm saying to Tarot concept its got that truth and they recognise that truth. And they they want to challenge themselves and they want to come out knowing that they've done the right thing.

 

Rabbi Moss  

So so what what part does  God play in in little children's lives? 

 

Nechama Dina  

Very, very significant part. Firstly, they accept Hashem, as if he's their best friend. They don't need to be told anything they completely accept his presence in their life. The only time kids will question it is when they hear adults question Hashem. And there's a natural belief that they have in something bigger in God. It's only the cynicism of adults that might that they might be taking on. So Hashem is there and Hashem is in their life. Firstly, they know Hashem is always watching, which means that you have to do the right thing, even when I'm not around. And this is a very important thing for a child to understand. That right and wrong is not Just when mommy and daddy are around, it's when I'm not around, you still have to choose to do the correct thing.

 

Nechama Dina  

Also, when things don't go their way, we talked about that sometimes this is what Hashem wants and hashem has a different plan to what we wanted to happen. And so sometimes we can even see how what Hashem wanted was better. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don't. But we talk about that when things don't go their way. It's okay, this is what haShem wanted, what can you learn from this? So Hashem is very much another facet of their life that's constantly spoken about when something happens, which is shows like a real coincidence in our life. We always speak about how we see haShem's hand and I hope that the kids recognise that from when we talk about it. So if I bumped into someone and I had an interesting conversation because I happened to bump into them, nothing happens by chance. And I'll repeat that event to the kids and tell them what happen. So that they can also see the divine hand in their lives. And they will they'll pick up on it because they've been trained with that viewpoint. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

Okay, so I'm starting to see a bit of a picture here of what your family in your home is about that, like, if your kids have a sense that there's a there's a divine purpose in life that God has the plans and sometimes sometimes doesn't go to our plan. So they, they they're not so I guess, self absorbed, they see there's a bigger picture, sort of about what I want. So not always getting what you want. 

 

Nechama Dina  

Correct. You're not always getting what you want. And that's okay. We don't need to be so self centred. We need to be God centred. And if this is what Hashem wanted to happen in my life, it's okay. It's not always to accept but acceptance is a very important skill again, for them to, to to develop as they get older. So at this level, it might be a very minor thing. But as we get older, our lives doesn't pan out always the way we hoped. And we need to learn acceptance. But the basics of all of these skills have been in the family from a very, very young age. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

So child growing up with that mentality is is going to be forced in a way to just be a better person. Because it's not all about them. 

 

Nechama Dina  

It's not all about them. It's not all about them.

 

Rabbi Moss  

So 11 kids who have a sense of purpose who are fighting there yetzer hora, the evil side, who are sharing space with others. I guess, I can see why that might be easier than let's say two kids who are so over protected, and everything's about them and everything they want. They get in there, spoilt and self absorbed. I can see why maybe those 11 kids might be easier to read. And those other two 

 

Nechama Dina  

And I would even take it one step further and say even deeper. It's not just that it's not all about me. But I have a purpose to serve. I was created with meaning with a purpose. There's something that I need to contribute to the world. So I need to bring something to the world. I'm not just here for no reason. Sometimes I want to do something and I think it's gonna happen a certain way. But Hashem didn't want that. Because I have a plan. I have a purpose I needed. And sometimes that's because I need to give in sometimes I need to say something kind to someone else. whatever's happening in my life. There's a purpose in that. And this is a critical message for the kids to hear again, from a very young age that I have a purpose. When we wake up in the morning, the first thing we say is my Donnie, we thank our Shen for our soul. And we have a purpose to our day. We didn't just wake up and it's another drudge torture. You know, we've Got a purpose, we've got a new life to us saying the moda Ani in the morning which is thanking God for returning our soul to us is already something that is teaching them that there's a new day a new opportunity and a new purpose and I need to contribute to something today.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Amazing. Okay, so this is my last question. Do you want more? Do you want more kids? After 11? Have you said That's it? Or are you ready for more?

 

Nechama Dina  

Absolutely. I feel so blessed that Hashem has entrusted me with these beautiful gifts. And as long as I'm healthy and everything's going well, please God, I would love to.

 

Rabbi Moss  

Wow, amazing. Well, Nechama Dina. It's an honour to have you on the show. And it's even bigger honour to be your husband and to parent our children together. You're an inspiration to me and to many others. So thanks for sharing

 

Nechama Dina  

Thank you in Hashem should help us that we should have lots of nahas from our children. 

 

Rabbi Moss  

Amen so everyone should