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Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
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Avoiding "Whatever"
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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Avoiding “Whatever”

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

One of the most common characteristics of teenagers is that they are often, shall we say, uncommunicative to their parents or other adults in their life. As a result of this reality, parents often find it difficult to say the least to have meaningful dialogue with their adolescent children.

Here is what it sounds like in real time:

How was your day?


How was school?


Is everything all right?


I’d like to suggest a parenting tip that might help you avoid getting responses like those noted above. Try asking your child a targeted question that would be unique to him or her, and preferably one that follows on information you know about him/her or conversations that you have had. Here are some examples:

• How was your chemistry exam today?

• Were you able to resolve things with Esther?

• Did the school (finally) fix the air conditioning?

What these three questions have in common is that one would need prior information about your child’s life to ask them. Asking questions like these are really a statement that you care about your child – enough to remember the details that are so important to him/her.

If you ask a generic question, don’t blame your child for giving you a generic answer. I often suggest to parents that they try to ask their loved ones (spouses are included in this category) at least one targeted question when they spend time together.

Try it for a few weeks with your teenager. I dare say that you will see an improvement in the quality of the responses that you get.


© 2009 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Dear Readers:

For the second year, we are running a concert to benefit the work of Project YES; a program I started 13 years ago to assist teens at risk with the help of Rabbi Moshe Sherer zt”l and with the backing and encouragement of the members of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah Shlit”a. The concert will be held this Sunday evening, November 15th, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Merkin Concert Hall, featuring Avrohom Fried and Cantor Yitzchok Meir Helfgot.

As you can well imagine, the stress of today’s precarious environment is directly affecting the tranquility of many homes in our communities. As a direct result, the phone lines at Project YES have been ringing more than ever as parents seek assistance.

Despite the challenges of increased requests for help, reductions in government funding, and diminished financial support from donors, we are deeply committed to providing life-saving support for the children and families who turn to us for help.

In fact, we will soon be rolling out an exciting new initiative that will generate an exponential increase in the number of children being served by our organization.

We are partnering with Bnos Agudath Israel, to train Bnos leaders in cities across North America, in partnership with their local schools, to become “big sisters” to the children in their communities.

Please help us help our children by becoming a Concert Sponsor or by contributing to Project YES.

We need your support to continue our life-saving work. It is just that simple.

Now more than ever.


Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Founder and Director of Project YES

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Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

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