Three Steps to Writing a Great Parent Speech for Your Child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Mazel tov! Your child is about to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a significant milestone in every Jewish family. Your son or daughter has worked hard to lead the service and you’ve worked hard to make the celebration perfect. And now that the occasion is coming closer, you’re probably starting to think about the speech you’re going to need to write to sing your child’s praises and make a positive impression on all your friends and families. But where should you begin?
Whether you’re speaking during the service or the party, there are a few ground rules to keep in mind when you’re developing your speech.
1. Back up your adjectives with anecdotes. It’s natural for parents to want to describe their child with flattering adjectives. After all, this is your moment to share with your guests what makes your child so special. But beware getting trapped in what I like to call the “laundry list of adjectives.” Listing out your child’s best character traits without the specific examples to back it up can sound generic. Instead, think of 2-3 stories that make your chosen character traits come alive. Your guests (and your child) are much more likely to remember a funny or heartwarming story than 15 different ways of saying “compassionate.” If you have trouble remembering anecdotes, look back at old photos and videos to jog your memory, or ask other friends and family members for ideas.
2. Be yourself. Parents can often feel pressure to be overly funny or sentimental in their speeches. There’s often a misconception that guests need to be either laughing or crying for the speech to hit its mark. In reality, the best choice is to be as authentic as possible. If you’re not particularly humorous, resist the urge to fill the speech with jokes and other one-liners. Likewise, if you’re not especially sentimental, it’s perfectly acceptable to share your love and pride without going over the top. Your child knows you better than you think and may easily pick up on any insincerity.
3. Stay positive. Interestingly, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs come at a time when kids are starting to exert more independence and parents are grappling with the attitude that sometimes accompanies the teenage years. Even if your relationship with your child is a little bumpier than it used to be, keep your remarks positive. This is not a time to vent about your child’s behavior or share stories that could be deemed embarrassing. Remember that it’s your job to cast your child in a flattering light and celebrate what they contribute to the world.
Above all, make sure to put in the time and effort that a great speech requires. Give yourself time to edit, fine tune and rehearse. This is one of those life moments when your child will really be listening to what you are saying. Seize this opportunity to honor your child and make them feel remarkable. They deserve it!