Whether you're giving a speech during the service or afterward, at your son's bar mitzvah bash, speaking a few well-placed words about your young man can show him just how proud you are. Although it may seem simple to tell your son how much you love him on this special day, creating the right balance between parental pride and treating him like the young adult that he is becoming is a must.
While you don't have to list every of your child's accomplishments over his past 13 years, you should give specifics about what makes you proud of him. Instead of simply stating that you're a proud parent -- most parents are -- tell your bar mitzvah boy, friends and relatives why you are proud of him. Stick to the event at hand and speak about how well he has done during his religious or Hebrew school classes or about the steadfast work that he put into preparing for his bar mitzvah.
This isn't your son's baseball banquet or middle school graduation -- it's his bar mitzvah. That said, add in a religious aspect to the speech that you make. Although you don't need to go as in-depth as your son will for his own speech -- and no one expects you to be as knowledgeable about the religious aspect as the rabbi -- you can add in a connection to your child's portion that he reads from the Hebrew Bible.
Although your son's bar mitzvah is a serious occasion, you won't find a rule saying that your speech can't contain some humor. This doesn't mean that you need to pack your speech with joke after joke or a string of funny anecdotes about your son, but instead add a humorous opener or a brief story that creates a pinch of humor. Using humor in your speech can bring a drifting audience back to attention or ease your own anxieties about speaking in public.
Don't forget that your newly-turned teen may easily embarrass, especially when Mom or Dad is speaking publicly about him.. Avoid embarrassing tales that may seem funny to you -- or the other adults in the room -- but may turn your bar mitzvah boy into the butt of his friends' jokes. For example, you might think that the story of your then-toddler son sitting his stuffed toy bunny next to him at temple is adorable, but it's not likely that your child will feel the same way. Stick to positive, age-appropriate stories and pieces of praise that won't make your teen cringe.
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Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.