02 Apr 2015

Teenagers – Down the Lane of Memory during Easter and Passover

Listen to children or adults talking excitedly about family events. Notice how most family memories seem to be around family rituals. The family rituals that we cherish most are ones of joy and connectedness or of overcoming adversity. Through rituals and the retelling of stories, we revisit family values and the strengths of individual members, friends or strangers.

At the Passover Seder, Jewish families read about the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. At Easter, Christian families recount the story of Jesus. These events occurred thousands years ago, however the power of these events holds on – as do personal stories with details dear to everyone’s heart and soul.

Holidays and their rituals are teachable moments that assist parents in helping their teenagers build social literacy, embrace family values, and develop the ability to talk about those values, with wisdom and emotions. Hopefully wisdom triumphs!

Both holidays focus on freedom from slavery and oppression – physically or emotionally – from prejudices, biases, impulses and the ability to walk away from degrading situations no matter how long the stay was. Freedom is best achieved within the relationship of our immediate, intimate family – if that relationship is not working, we return again and again to an emotional prison and disquiet.

Both Easter and Passover celebrate love – demanding that we love the stranger in our midst and “love your neighbour as yourself”; inviting us to feel and think as if we were in the stranger’s shoes – offering insight into how devaluing another’s dignity, devalues our own dignity. Parents can talk about the imperative of treating others with respect and dignity, and becoming better and better at it. Not perfect, just better.

It’s a time to reflect on our faith – among others, faith in ourselves and in the people who love us and whom we love – in our ability to struggle with ourselves to achieve trust and self-trust.

Most adolescents sense that life has its own challenges. These holidays highlight the gift and miracle of life – when events take an unexpectedly positive turn, coming back from adversity. We learn yet again to enjoy and celebrate life. These stories are about a mixture of loss, grief, hope and celebration. About never saying “Never!” and never saying “It’s all over!”