This essay is dedicated in loving memory of my dear father, Reb Shlome ben Reb Yakov Moshe Horowitz a’h, whose 47th yahrtzeit is today, Rosh Chodesh Iyar. May any the positive outcomes of the dissemination of this column be a zechus for his neshama.
“Es Chatoei Ani Mazkir Hayom.” (Lit. I confess to a sin of mine; see Bereshis 41:9)
I abruptly hung up on a fellow who recently called me for parenting advice, something I can’t remember ever doing before.
The caller was a divorced father who was ostensibly looking for parenting advice for his son. But we never got to talk about the kid – as the father immediately launched into a diatribe describing the messy arguments and court battles he and his ex-wife were having.
After a few minutes of this, I gently mentioned that my father’s 47th yahrtzeit was approaching and advised him to take advantage of the gift of parenting his children – something my father was denied (I am grateful to my cousin Azriel Ganz for posting these lines about my father earlier today). I begged him to stop all the fighting and not subject his children to a fate far worse than orphans suffer.
“What?” he exclaimed. “And let her win?”
At that point I just lost it, told him that I was hanging up and said he should call back when he can set aside his hatred and consider the needs of his children first.
Now, as I sit in the back seat of a car heading back from another draining yahrtzeit visit to my father’s grave, I’d like to finish my conversation with him… . . .
You are so consumed in the battles you are waging with your ex that you cannot see the enormous collateral damage you are inflicting upon your children.
Our sages tell us that a home infused with shalom bayis is filled with Hashem’s presence. Well; a corollary of that chazal is that parents who are filled with hatred and anger invite the malach ha'moves (angel of death) to become their managing partner. (More on this topic in "Father of the Man.”)
Children crave stability and menuchas hanefesh. It is their birthright and it is your sacred obligation as a parent to do your very best to provide it for them.
I can almost assure you that when they grow to adulthood, your kids will figure it all out – the good, the bad and the ugly – and judge you for eternity on how you conducted yourself when they were so vulnerable. Adults who grew up in divorced homes, are forever grateful to their parents who rose to the occasion and set aside their differences to enhance the quality of their lives. Conversely, many kids from divorced homes whose parents behaved poorly during their formative years, and those from “regular” homes whose parents were abusive to them, go to their graves with resentment and anger towards them.
I am not implying that your ex is not to blame in this sordid mess. But you are fully in control of your actions, and it your responsibility to banish the angel of death from your home before he wreaks irrevocable havoc on your children. Go for counseling and mediation.
May Hashem grant you the wisdom and courage to invite Him back to your home and may He grant you endless nachas from your children.
© 2010, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved
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