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Issue 188 - Response To: Should we keep our at-risk child at home?
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

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12/7/07

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

We have 6 children ranging in age from a married daughter of 22 to a son of 8 years old. Things are well with us, b'h, regarding shalom bayis, parnasa and other areas of our lives.

We are writing to you regarding our 17-year-old son, who is a (very) at-risk teenager. We have been supporting him with testing, tutors, etc. throughout his school years, but nothing seemed to have worked. He's been in several schools since 9th grade, dropped out and is currently working full time. We have an excellent relationship with him; he is respectful and does not violate Shabbos/kashrus in front of our family members. But he is, at this point in his life, completely non-observant.

Our dilemma is with regard to his 4 siblings still in our home. We are terribly worried that they will pick up his habits and lifestyle. We have so many questions:

1) Should we ask him to leave our home, as many of our friends tell us to do? (We don't think that is a good idea)

2) How can we allow him to remain in our home and turn his back on all we hold dear?

3) What do we tell our other children? They all know what is really going on to some degree, depending on their age.

We are so torn over this decision. Adding to the confusion is all the diverse and conflicting advice we are being given by people. We are hearing, “be firm, be flexible, give him an ultimatum, always keep the lines of communication open;” on and on.

We would be most grateful for your advice. Thank you very much.

Names Withheld

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

The first thing that struck me about your letter was where you wrote about your confusion over getting conflicting advice from many different people, as it is something that I hear from so many parents are who are in your excruciating situation. I hope that this column will help you sort things out and not add to the swirl of information.

Before I get into the details, I’d like to inform you that from reading your letter I have a strong hunch that you are doing exactly what you ought to be doing. Why do I say that? Because you write that you have an excellent relationship with your son. Trust me, if your relationship survived his rocky school experience and crisis of faith, you should be giving guidance to parents yourselves.

While there is little I can do to completely allay your fears about your other children picking up your son’s rebellious behaviors, I can tell you that in my twenty-five years of dealing with at-risk kids and their families, I have found it extremely rare that a child went off-the-derech because he/she followed a sibling who strayed from Yiddishkeit. I think that what often skews the data and leads people to believe that off-the-derech is ‘contagious’ are situations where there are significant flaws in the family dynamics that are left unaddressed and uncorrected despite the fact that a child exhibited rebellious signs.

Now for some answers to your questions:

1) I am usually reluctant to give advice to people I do not know, but there does not seem to be any reason for you to even consider asking him to leave your home. I would respond differently if you had mentioned that he was self-destructing (substance abuse, for example), if he was undermining your authority or the quality of life at home, or if you felt that there was a clear and present danger of another child going off the derech. But none of these seem to apply, so I don’t think sending him away is even a subject for discussion in your situation.

For parents who have one or more of those three conditions present regarding a rebellious child, I usually recommend that they first go for counseling to try and improve things, and to gain a clearer understanding of the issues at hand. Then, armed with that information, visit their Rav to present their request for guidance regarding sending a child away from home. I do not think parents should make that dinei nefashos (life-or-death matter) decision without both of those components – medical and rabbinic advice.

(Recommended Reading: Jumpstarting Your Child's Life, Letter From Your Teenage Child, Teeage Sturm Und Drang, "Whatever" -- Parenting Your Teenager)

2) Please review my Mishpacha column, “Leaving The Door Open” for profound guidance that I received from one of our leading gedolim, who told a father in your situation to inform his child that he ought not feel disenfranchised from Hashem’s Torah and its eternal lessons just because he does not fully understand it all at the young age of seventeen – for growing close to Hashem and comprehending His Torah is a lifelong mission. You, as parents, can be most helpful in reframing your son’s ‘no’ to a ‘not yet.’

3) What should you tell your children? I have a simple answer for you. Tell your children that you love them all unconditionally; always and forever. And that means giving each of them what they need when they need it. Period. Exclamation point.

Explain to them that at this juncture in his life, your 17-year-old needs understanding and acceptance above all, and as difficult as this is, you are committed to provide this to him. This is the most honest and beautiful thing that you can tell them – that they would get the same measure of unconditional love, time, and acceptance from you if they had a crisis of any sort in their lives. Tell them that they, too, should love their brother unconditionally and not withdraw their emotional support for him due to his eroding faith in Hashem.

I cannot predict the future, but I can assure you that the best chance you have that your son will find his way back to Hashem is to follow the darchei noam approach I suggested. The bedrock of your unconditional love will hopefully provide the platform upon which your son can gently and slowly build upon – and return to Torah and mitzvos.

I usually do not mix my parsha and parenting columns, but I will make this exception and inform you of a profound dvar Torah that my dear friend Reb Pinchas Gershon (P.G.) Waxman of Lakewood recently shared with me.

The Gemorah (Shabbos 89b) relates that when the Jews will stray from the path of Torah and mitzvos, Hashem will inform our Avos (patriarchs) that their children have sinned. Avraham and Yaakov Avinu will respond that they ought to be punished for their misdeeds. Yitzchok, on the other hand, will implore the Ribbono Shel Olam “Are they (Klal Yisrael) only my children? Are they not Your children as well?” The Gemarah notes that Yitzchok will continue to plead until Hashem spares Klal Yisroel from destruction.

This is quite difficult to understand. Why was Yitzchok Avinu the only one of the Avos who was able to defend the Jews at that time? This is all the more puzzling as Yitzchak was noted for his attribute of gevurah (firmness), so he should have been the last one of the Avos to successfully defend his children.

One possible explanation is that of all the Avos, Yitzchok was in a unique position to advocate for the Jews since he kept his son Esav in his house despite Esav’s numerous sins. He sent his beloved son Yaakov away when Esav wanted to kill him (not Esav), and furthermore, when Esav’s wives worshiped idols and Yitzchok was becoming blind from the smoke of their incense; he still did not ask Esav to leave home.

Therefore, Yitzchok was able to plead to Hashem: “I kept and loved my child Esav despite his significant flaws; You too, should [keep and] forgive Your children.”

I do not profess to understand Hashem’s workings, but perhaps when the Jewish people are one day in need of forgiveness, the 2 of you and all others who unconditionally love and believe in their at-risk sons and daughters will become Klal Yisroel’s Reb Levi Yitzchok Bardichiver and advocate for all of Hashem’s children.

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

(Reb Pinchas Gershon later found a similar thought in the writings of the Chassidic rebbi, Reb Meir of Primishlan. For further discussion of this matter, see Rashi Yirmiyahu 31,15; Ein Yaakov, Panim Meirim Yayeitzei, Emes L’Yaakov Toldos 27,40)



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1.     12/7/07 - 10:57 AM
Anonymous

I'd like R' Horowitz's response to address the dilemma of the 17 year old himself, not just the other family members!


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2.     12/9/07 - 3:01 PM
The Hedyot

The letter writer says "We are so worried that they will pick up his habits and lifestyle."

Why is this? Why do people assume that someone would just magically "pick up" habits and values that are contrary to what they believe in? Isn't that a bit of a paranoid perspective? What sort of person gives up something they believe in more than anything by just being around and knowing of another individual not believing in it? (The writer admits that the son is not actively doing anything to influence the other kids.)

I believe this view stems from the sad fact that beneath the surface very few chareidi people really, truly want to be frum. They remain frum because they are convinced they have to and because they are convinced its the right thing to do, but if given the chance to get out, they would gladly take it. This is why chareidi life is based so much on the model of keeping any outside "corrupting" influences far, far away. They know so well that inside a frum person, very close to the surface, is the desire to get out, and they have to keep any and all things which might give that desire a voice to express itself or an energy to act, as far away as possible.

No one who values something with any passion is afraid of losing that feeling by just seeing someone else who doesn't share the value. This perspective smacks of a hollow belief. It's the couples who don't have strong loving relationships who are always suspicious of unfaithfulness. Such people see potential betrayal lurking around every corner.

I've seen this reaction so many times - parents don't even want their children to know about the irreligiosity of a relative; the very awareness of it existing needs to be hidden from youngsters. Just the fact that the kid will know that a close relative is not frum is considered potentially damaging! How fragile are these people's faith?

Show me a person who isn't afraid to interact with, and be exposed to, those with values and lifestyles contrary to theirs, and I'll show you a person who has a true confidence in his beliefs. Very few of the chareidi people I know can meet this criteria. And the growth of people going OTD is just a manifestation of this shallow belief.


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3.     12/9/07 - 4:48 PM
Anonymous

If you are exposed to irreligious Jews and are in a position to be mashpia on them, then being mashpia on them strengthens your own religiosity. If they will be mashpia on you, well, that will weaken your religiosity, of course. We do not remain neutral. Either we are mashpia or we are mushpa. Parents of young children are afraid that an older sibling will be mashpia on them, rather than vice versa. I think this is a legitimate fear.


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4. Your decision     12/9/07 - 4:54 PM
Ak

Hi, IMHO the decision has to be one that feels right for you as parents. We are talking about kids here , an older sibling is very much a role model. It is not so much a question of values , but also undermining commitment and enthusiasim. I don't like to generalize and be judgmental , but the concern IMHO is because one's kids spirituality matters. When there are kids in the family or wider family who are no longer committed , there is a danger that this is acceptable and no longer bothers us. I think that if an understanding can be reached with the older sibling that he can be supportive of the parents and not undermine their educational efforts , and in turn his parents support his autonomy , I would encourage keeping him at home. In time there will be a natural move towards independence and he would likely want to leave home. We have everyone at the Seider table , we want to maintain a good relationship , not only that he may see the beauty of a frum home , but it is needed for his successful transition into adulthood. I think kids sooner or later learn that not all members of families are frum , we have to still have ahavas yisroel , be accepting , because that's what Hashem wants from us , that by being a mensch we bring people closer to Hashem. It means we have to put more effort into the kids , rather than focusing on pushing the other kid away. This is a great nisayon - the greatness of Mordrchai was he was doveir shalom to all his descendants , even those who were not frum.


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5.     12/9/07 - 5:48 PM
yoni

I don't know how someone could kick their child out of their house...

I mean, sometimes they're endangering other children's lives, but I still don't know how anyone could do it.

I look at the local children and I don't think I could kick them out of my house, much less my own (iy'h) children.


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6.     12/9/07 - 9:29 PM
Benzion Twerski

I have several issues with the question.

1. The writer describes the past efforts at addressing the needs of the at-risk teen as testing and tutors. While I am jumping to a conclusion, it sounds as if the focus was to deal with the academic issues. Many of the professionals working with at-risk youth note that the difficulties a youngster may have with being successful and enjoying school can predispose him/her to at-risk behavior. I share that observation. However, to address only the educational piece and not the rest of the child seems like a waste. It is uncommon that a physician who is visited because of an earache does check the throat or seek other possible symptoms. For starters, this question had me wondering what the parents had done until the child turned 17 years of age.

2. The questioner continues to describe a respectful adolescent who is presently working full time. I was waiting for the punchline (he’s using drugs, stays out all night, has a girl/boyfriend, etc.) but there was nothing stated. Precisely what is the “at-risk” behavior? Is full time employment “at-risk”? For someone who abruptly left yeshiva where he was doing well and integrated into the yeshiva community, fulltime employment at age 17 is anomalous. It would make me wonder, too. But what is the “at-risk” label referring to here? And for that matter, what is the “very” in the parentheses?

3. The question turns to the effect of the at-risk teen on the siblings. This is an important question asked in nearly every case that arises. It is interesting that when there is a situation regarding an individual bochur in yeshiva, the question about the effect on others is answered almost automatically – expel. (My opinions about this have been shared elsewhere, and this is not the appropriate forum for that discussion.) Here, at least, we are dealing with family, and the issue is accepted as worthy of discussion. The reality is that there can be influence on siblings. There are other reactions as well, and parents should seek the guidance to help them recognize the problems and address them. For instance, some parents effectively neglect the other siblings because of the greater attention given to the at-risk child, with all the various issues involved. These siblings can react with their own attention getting schemes, they can emulate the behavior in the hope they will also get the parents’ time and energy, they can fall into patterns of silence and withdrawal, or develop any of an array of medical or psychological symptoms. The worry about the younger children learning from their older brother is legitimate, but the preventive strategy is to insure their retention of our mesorah and values by reaching them at this core level. I do not believe that throwing a child out succeeds in this or gives the younger children the right message (“Violate our rules and out you go.”)

The choices given are asking him to move out. See above. I vote NO (capital letters intentional). Keeping him in the home when he turns his back on all that is held so dear – so what? Allowing him to have food and shelter is not tantamount to rewarding the unapproved lifestyle. The message to the home is that he is ours, and we love him even when not approving of things he does.

There is a serious question about what to tell the other children. This is complicated by the age differences, and that some pieces of information are not appropriate for certain younger ages. This is a tough question to answer in this forum. One needs to know how mature the children’s thinking is. Some could handle much more than others. It is an individual question that the parents should discuss with a professional with experience dealing with young children. There are several master therapists as well as mechanchim who are well qualified to provide guidance.

I was most appalled by the importance given to the opinions of “our friends”. I do not question the intent of these friends to make suggestions to alleviate the pain and suffering of the children and the parents. Most parents I know seek medical advice from friends and extended family before going for professional help. Let’s face it. It’s much cheaper, the advice is coming from someone who has a connection to you or your family and would mean the best for them. However, I would prefer to get the guidance from someone with the qualifications and experience to identify the issues and apply their knowledge appropriately.

Lastly, the writer reported on the stack of mixed messages, among which was “give him an ultimatum”. While there is understandable value to the others, although some confusion as to how to balance them, I found the ultimatum one like fingernails on a chalkboard. It is rare that drastic measures such as this one are fitting. I find it painful that this issue is raised when it seems that the psychological route of helping the teen and working on the family dynamics have not been done yet (as it seems from the question).


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7.     12/9/07 - 9:39 PM
yoni

unfortunately Dr. Twersky, it seems to me that the worst crime a boy can do in frum society is not stealing, nor doing drugs, but talking to a girl.

and given the severity of the reaction, I would think that perhaps that is exactly what this teen has done.

and I wouldn't be surprised, given the lack of love evidenced in the question (ie the idea that throwing him out is even on the table) perhaps that would be exactly why he sought it.


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8. I hope you hold him dear too     12/10/07 - 2:34 AM
Zachary Kessin - Yesha Israel - zkessin@kessin.com

I think that asking him to move out is the worst thing you can do. You need to say to him and your other children "We love you". Even when you don't live the way we might want, even if you mess up, even if...

Be honest with your younger children. Tell them that you love their brother and he is family and that is the end of it.

If he wants to move out and find his own place to live let it be his choice. But even then make sure that he knows that he is always welcome.


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9. dealing with a child who has gotten stuck while on his derech.     12/10/07 - 4:08 AM
Nechama

Yaakov is known for having held on to Esav's heel...these days at the end of time are known as "ikvesa demeshicha" the heel of Moshiach. The heel is the part of the body where the body turns round a full 90 degrees, very suddenly.

I think that we live in these times, and that means we have to be prepared to face some enormous changes while holding onto the ikkarim.

Ikkar number 1: Family is so much more important than friends. Forget the shidduch ramifications for the other kids. Save your son. You can only be mashpia on him TO BE THE BEST HE CAN BE, GIVEN WHERE HE IS UP TO NOW, if he stays at home. He may have made some bad mistakes - but perhaps you made some equally bad ones. Now is the time to rectify as much as possible. DON'T GIVE UP ON YOUR SON. He needs you more than ever.

Have a D&M (deep and meaningful conversation) with each of the younger kids and talk about the situation. Explain how nobody is judging, because nobody knows who is truly at fault. Is it his fault that he is now off the derech? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Is it the parents' fault? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Usually, there are a myriad of contributors, some from the present, some from the past.

Tell the kids that you are going to couples' therapy and family therapy to do your bit in rectifying the situation. I hope it is true. Even if you as parents "did everything more or less right" - you obviously didn't, not as far as this kid's chinuch needs were concerned. Why not? I'm sure it was not deliberate, but it happened. FIND OUT WHAT WENT WRONG.

Daven for him. Tell the other kids to too. Ask the other kids how they feel about it. Probably angry, guilty, jealous. Deal with these feelings, by validating them, and try to channel them. Eg if a kid says I'm so angry with my older brother, and with you for not stopping it from happening, you can say: "I'm quite angry too, and it's a very valid reaction. But you know what it means? It means you love him very much and are devastated that he went off. SO let's daven for him. Or it means you're angry because your friends won't like you anymore. Well that's more than valid. But when anger is your reponse instead of explaining to your friends, isn't it a sign that your friends don't like you enough in your own merit? So how can we help you gain confidence and better friendships?

Repeat these conversations week after week until as a family you are all on the same page.

If your son wants to change his name from say Shmuel to Sam, respect him. I can't tell you how much tension arises from parents not calling a child by the name he wants to be called by. To the parent, the Jewish name means Judaism, and affection, and perhaps control. To the child, it means anger, stress, awful experiences, sad youth, etc. Accept that his version of his abused youth is extremely legitimate, and name-change accordinly. You can't go back in time. I'd even say DAVEN for him with his new name. THAT'S WHO HE IS NOW.

Above all, don't mistake a cordial relationship with him, as a sign of him getting on well with his parents. You are SITTING ON A TIME BOMB!!!! I wish I could increase the font size of this, but the formatting options don't work well for me. Seriously, a kid who went off has severe issues with you, his parents, even if neither he nor you is acknowledging them. We have to try to imagine him within his reality, seeing yourself through his eyes, and accept that for him, this is reality. Let's say he is bitter about his youth. So help him not get stuck in his bitterness, for example say: "I know you had a tough youth. I wish I'd known then what I know now. But even now, I am not sure I'm doing things right by the younger kids. Maybe you can give me some inside information about how they feel?".

Or let's say he claims he didn't have a tough youth, or he doesn't want to talk about it. This means he is disassociating. At least try to give time to create a new positive relationship .Eg get him to come out to a meal with you, where you listen to him, with love and interest. Learn the warning signs of anger, eg your words hang in a vaccuum. eg he turns away, etc. Never attempt to have conversations at home (too loaded), and preferably not face to face. eg while driving is sometimes not bad, but he may come to fear drives.

The truth is that he did have a tough youth (we all did!). So he is not talking because he doesn't like or trust you. SO you have to build up the like and trust - not by doing things he likes (that would seem forced) but by trying to STOP SMASHING the illusory world he lives in.

In other words. Start again to make advances as you would a stranger. Very small talk at first. Talk to him where he is. Ask him how his baseball game went. Keep every conversation very short. Like ONE exchange at a time. Even if he starts a conversation, be happy with answering and turning away. That way he'll feel safe to start again. Gradually it may build up to two exchanges.

This is what I mean by entering his world. Because if instead you try to have a long conversation - he's withdrawn even further. In his sadness, he is often only capable of one safe exchange at a time. But gradually have more of them. Many should be non-verbal, eg a raised eyebrow asking his approval, a secret thrown kiss. Look for his non-verbal reply.

This is a non-threatening way to enter his world. With more such conversations, gradually comes a deeper insight, more love can filter through the black cloud.

He's on a journey. He should never have gotten to this point in the first place. Yet, a quick fix doesn't work when in quicksand. Slow and steady pulling, that's what will get him out.

When you became parents you realized you were expected to give up your freedom, your Shabbos walks, your night's sleep, much of your income. Now you are also expected to give up more of your life, your image, and hardest of all, to improve internally. For example, so many of us are stuffing our emotions internally, and to the kid, they feel like they are run over by a steam roller (we obviously aren't stuffing them effectively). So working on being real and open can really change everything, and it's all in your hands! Yes, it means acknowledging all the sadnesses of your youth, your anger, guilt, hatred, worries, jealousy. Let it out.

It's all worth it. A parent-child relationship is second only to husband-wife (and Hashem-human).

I said at the beginning about eikev. I didn't mean chas vesholom that nowadays it's ok to have relationships with girls. No way. What I meant is that now we are suddenly dropped bombshells like "we are such a wonderful family, so over-acheiving, and now suddenly THIS??? He's ruined our whole image". It wasn't just an image. If you were an over achieving family, the odds are that you are a very good family, striving to do well by Hashem. Hashem is giving you the opportunity to rectify something at base level that went amiss. The playing field suddenly tipped 90 degrees! Grab the chance! This too is a test designed with love, to help you.


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10. a journey     12/10/07 - 9:05 AM
tb

"He's on a journey"

These are the best words I've ever read about this topic. Kol Hakovod, Nechama! I think so many parents forget this. Educators do too. This child is on a journey. This isn't "what he wants", or "what he is". This--whatever it is--is what he is doing. Where he is going is far from determined. And if it is about clothes choice, music choice, working instead of learning, etc. all that is far less important than issues of Mentchlechkeit. If he does not openly disrespect the parent at home and he is not openly Mechalel Shabbos (Nisyonos that many parents must face) then I agree with all who commented here. I hope he can stay at home. I do acknowledge that it must be complicated for younger children, but complicated is not insurmountable. I would hope that these parents will get the specific advice they need from those who tread this path before them and chose to keep their teenager at home. It is heartwarming to read the responses given here.


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11.     12/10/07 - 9:50 AM
Benzion Twerski

Reply to Yoni

The remark that talking to a girl is “the worst crime a boy can do nowadays” prompts many a comment. I’ll share one.

We have succeeded quite well in reversing the truly important with the trivial. We have relegated midos tovos to the back burner, to be addressed from the purely intellectual perspective. We have made the chumros of the week-month-year into the hallmarks of our progression and advances in avodas Hashem. Our fast food establishments have hechsherim that focus on cholov yisroel, yoshon, bedikas tolaim, glatt, etc. None of them purport to have implemented strategies to prevent them from becoming havens for those who wish to “hang out” and mingling of the genders. None of them have hechsherim that address business practices that exclude ona’ah, ribis, gezaila, etc. Our mosdos do well in honoring those who either give or bring in money. Few address those that generate a reputation for the mosad as contributing to the klal, unless there is an accompanying dollar sign.

One might say that our yeshivos interpret avodas Hashem, insofar as there is an obligation for chinuch, as being the encyclopedic growth of the young mind. We are all familiar with the value of a good database, but none of us could function without other tools. Again, the confusion of the ikar and the tofel.

The development of relationships with the other gender is a statement. However, we need to hear the message before rushing to judge it as a “worst crime”.


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12.     12/10/07 - 10:30 AM
yoni

Dr. Twersky, you and I know that, tb knows that, I would suspect that rabbi horowitz knows that, even if he is not in as possition to publicaly admit it (which is rather akin the the comment I heard that was made by a posek to the effect that if he told someone the truth about a halacha, noone would ever listen to him anymore).

if a boy and girl are pairing off around sixteen, treating each other respectfully and avoiding being alone together/touching each other (or sincerely trying and taking steps to prevent such) and generaly treating it with the gravity it deserves, thats one thing.

If they're just trying to mess around with everyone that they can find, that's another entirely, although I will freely admit to being quite biased in this matter.

but I also think that in anycase we need to look at the problem as less of a crime and more of a teenagers solution to a problem. the question then becomes, "what is said problem?" (most frum teens, at least in my observation, don't go actualy looking for the opposite sex until something is already wrong.)


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13.     12/10/07 - 10:30 PM
Benzion Twerski

Yoni

Just to expand a bit on the way you stated it, each and every behavior that youth at risk manifest is a statement. We are troubled because we do not understand their language. Those of us who work extensively with teens have some degree of understanding of this foreign language.

I must revert to an experience I had running a group for outpatient drug addicts some years ago. A newcomer to the group was a black gentleman in his 60’s. He had been incarcerated for more than 35 years for a series of major crimes, all related to his addiction. He was recently paroled, just a mere 8 months before his prison sentence would be complete. I read his chart from the intake assessment, and I discovered that his drug screen was positive for heroin, his drug of choice. The drug screen he took that night was also positive. Though he was new, I confronted him about his relapse into drugs immediately upon leaving prison. I was actually wondering how he could take such chances, knowing that he would go directly back to state prison. This gentleman replied, “I am a drug addict. I used drugs throughout my prison term, though I won’t tell you details of how I smuggled drugs into my cell. I never stopped, and I won’t stop now either.” When I told him that I was mandated to share this information with his parole officer, he was nonchalantly agreeable. He did not even seem to take it seriously. After all, all that could happen was that he would be sent back to “max out” his sentence for the remaining 8 months. This was no big deal, considering he had spent more than half his life there. Following the group, all left, but three other black group members stayed late and asked to talk to me. They told me, “You missed an opportunity. You did not hear his message. He was not dismissing his drug use as trivial. He was asking you to help him because he does not know how to stop. He said it in a manner that befits a prison inmate, but that has been his life.”

I must say, they were right. And it does not only pertain to convicted felons in prison. When our kids are in terrific pain, their manner of communication – by action – can be puzzling. They can seem disrespectful, rebellious, and oppositional. If we are to have any positive impact on them, we need to be capable of hearing the real message they are telling us. Some of these messages include:

“I need boundaries and limits.” “I want to be close to you.” “I want to love and be loved.” “I need someone to listen to me.” “I feel like a failure.” “I need some approval from you.” “I need someone to notice me.” “I feel rejected.”

One can easily add to this list. I just rattled off a few of the obvious ones. We are given many chances to hear their messages. If we could only understand their language.


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14. what do our kids want from us--at any age?     12/11/07 - 12:12 AM
tb

Today my 5-year old son was acting out...a lot. We were all stuck at home because one of us was sick. He kept pushing the envelope, pushing. Didn't seem to get the message. I tried to ask him to play a game, etc. I think in retrospect I did not try hard enough. At bedtime, I gave him his Chanukah present which was a Chanukah teddy bear. He rejected it completely. My older son secretly convinced him to find me in the next room and try to talk to me. Basically, he just stood there. I grabbed him to hug him. I said," Did you want attention from me today?" He just burst out crying bitterly and said, "Yes." I don't think that all teens who don't conform to their parents' expectations are necessarily seeking attention--I know that I wasn't as a teen when I did the things I did--but I do know that when they push us away, when they seem to not care, they actually do. Even if they don't know it. And what you say here, Dr. Twerski, is extremely powerful. These teens need their parents somehow, some way. These teens are not just younger versions of adults even if they act like it. They are older children.


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15.     12/11/07 - 11:41 AM
Anonymous

R' Twerski - I'm sure you didn't intend on conveying the message that lavin in the Torah, such as eating tolaim, are trivial, but if you reread your comment, that's what it sounds like!

I don't understand your comment (#11). Food establishments ("fast" or otherwise) have hechsherim because otherwise, frum people won't eat in them. Frum people need to know that a rav ha'machshir has established that the food is kosher. So what are you saying? That the owner of a store that sells food should be responsible for the behavior of the people in his store? Perhaps he should hire people assigned to make sure that customers say brachos, before and after eating and don't gaze at women? What was that you meant by the references to Choshen Mishpat type sins? That I, the customer, should ask the rav ha'machshir to examine the owner's books to ensure they are kept honestly? Why? And why do you think that honesty is more important that kashrus?

Are you suggesting that mosdos shouldn't fundraise or that when someone gives a donation, they shouldn't thank him and honor him for the purpose of bringing in more money so the mosad can remain open? This is trivial? What is meant by a mosad that contributes to the klal? What mosad, supported by tzedaka, does NOT contribute to the klal?

Why not a direct answer to yoni that says that there is no such thing as boy and girl interacting, platonically, for long, and that halacha warns strongly against such relationships and that all sorts of sins are involved?


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16.     12/11/07 - 12:23 PM
yoni

anon, name one. Name one sin that it brings in its wake by absolute necessity.

Please, I'll graciously wait.

and where does classical halacha warn against it? modern heredi halachaists do, but even rav moshe stated that "I am in doubt as to whether such an issur exists at all, and am leaning on the side that it does not." (orech chayim 1, teshuva 41) (which is later than his teshuva in which he assets otherwise.)


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17. Honesty more important than Kashrus?     12/11/07 - 12:54 PM
Ray Kaufman - Monsey - rkaufman311@hotmail.com

Well, um, actually, yes. For aveiros bein adam l'chaveiro, even Yom Kippur isn't mechapair without restitution and the forgiveness of the wronged individual;things that are virtually impossible one engaged in systemic dishonesty and ona'ah in business. Teshuva is relativly easier for aveiros bein adam l'Makom (except, of course, for the Big Three). Further most of what Anonymous (love those Greeks)refers to are't lavim but chumros. The point is that being machmir where there is yesh l'hatir while being makil on Choshen Mishpat (or ignoring it altogether) isn't going to win anyone points with the Beis Din Shel Ma'alah.


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18. what would Rav Pam say     12/11/07 - 9:24 PM
esther

Well, that was a resounding don't you dare throw him out. I 18th that motion. Surely, you don't want to give him the impression that you value him less than you value his derech. As to the younger children, what message are you giving them if you let them know you value their religious practice more than your children. One lesson they'd learn is that unless you are visibly toeing the straight and narrow then they, too, will be history. I'm not sure that will contribute to ahavas Torah on their part. A second could be contempt for parents who don't have the courage to stand by their child and instead choose to submit to the adult form of peer pressure, i.e. what will the neighbors, shadchanim, etc. think about my parenting skills, other children, etc. if I choose to house this child. Your friends, like most frum parents these days, are running scared of the possibility that their child might be next, and their fear motivates their response to get rid of him. They could no more easily do that if they were in your shoes than you can do it, how ever easy it is for them to say it.

This child is respectful, responsible, and doing what he can do best at this stage of life, which is to work. You have a good relationship with him. Why would you want to jeopordize that in any way? He respects Shabbos and kashrus in your home so he doesn't disrupt the family atmosphere.

And what would Rov Pam say? He would tell you NOT to throw this child out. How do I know that? Because I went to him with a similar shailah regarding my second oldest son who was also a school dropout, who'd adopted an English street name (and, Nechama, I stayed involved with him every step of the way but I did not refer to him by that name. We are still very close), who couldn't hold down a job, who no longer put on tfillin, davened, or kept kashruth or Shabbos outside of my home, and who used drugs, and nevertheless Rov Pam advised me at that time NOT to throw him out. Kal v'chomer I can't even begin to imagine that Rov Pam, a true Godol Hador, would even entertain the notion that you should throw him out.

Have the courage (easier said than done) to stand by ALL your children. Certainly daven. And know you will increase the odds that he will come back if you keep that door open for him. If our tafkid is to emulate Hashem, then remember that we don't want Him to throw us out when we waver. Do the same.


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19.     12/11/07 - 9:30 PM
Benzion Twerski

Anonymous #15

I am responding defensively to the questions posed.

No one is minimizing lavin from the Torah, chas veshalom. However, our reactions as parents and mechanchim to children (above bar mitzvah) are appropriate within the context of chinuch as giving rebuke – tochacha. I will quote (translation mine) from the Mesilas Yeshorim (Perek 20):

“The Torah commanded us ‘Hochayach tocheyach es amisecho’, and sometimes a person will approach sinners in a place or time that his words will not be heeded, and he causes them to transgress more in their evil and to be mechalel Hashem to add to their sin rebelliousness. In such a situation, it is not consistent with the midoh of chassidus only to be silent.”

The response to our children’s behavior must be calculated to have an effect, and not to provoke them to dig themselves deeper into their problem behaviors. I consider shmiras Shabbos and kashrus very dear. If rebuking a child will only lead to his defensiveness and increased rebellion, it is not a mitzvah. Peruse the rest of that perek in the Mesilas Yeshorim, as he discusses the role of tochacha, how precious it is, and how it is predicated by the reasonably predicted outcome.

It has been observed by many on this site and others that a fundamental issue for at risk youth is the hypocrisy they observe in our adult community. I personally do not believe it is the issue that originated the “at risk” behavior, but it contributes nicely to the progression and rebellion. The comment about food establishments was not in relation to the youth, but a general issue. It should be as important that halachos of Cheshen Mishpat are followed as those of kashrus. Yet, we pay little attention to honesty, and dismiss the infractions as “all in a day’s work”. Perhaps a hechsher on an establishment should involve business practices. In Eretz Yisroel, my favorite falafel shop had lost its hechsher from the Badatz of the Eidah Hacharedis when the mashgiach saw women sitting down with men (specifically listed on the poster with the hechsher as prohibited). We should have these other issues in mind, and keep everything in context.

As far as mosdos recognizing the non-income bearing honorees, this is an old observation, and has been somewhat rectified by several yeshivos. The father that spends sedorim with his son in the yeshiva bais hamedrash weekly may not be recognized, while the father that pays full tuition and has wealthy friends is a more likely honoree. That is great for fundraising, but the message to the talmidim is damaging. And I repeat my opinion that everything a yeshiva or mechanech does needs to be consistent with proper chinuch.

Boruch Hashem there are many kollelim out of town whose yungerleit are integral to the community, whether assuming functions as melamdim, mohalim, magidei shiur, etc. within their host city. In metropolitan areas such as New York, Monsey, Lakewood, some of these tasks may be unneeded. However, there is still much that can and should be done. This is in no way intended to minimize their learning. It is intended to highlight the roles of “lelamed, lishmor, ve’la’asos” of our sincerest tefilos. Not all of our mosdos do this, and they do not claim to do so. It is a responsibility of every yeshiva and every bochur who is capable to create as much Kiddush Hashem as possible, even if it is only giving a weaker bochur some additional time to help him keep up with the rest, or tutoring a younger bochur who needs the help.

The boy-girl relationships are serious issues. However, as noted above from the Mesilas Yeshorim, this is one where the direct approach of admonishing and forbidding it will only lead to the pair taking their friendship underground, and likely to extend their rebelliousness. As noted, one needs to consider the outcome when attempting to address the problem.


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20. Chumrah- B Twersky     12/13/07 - 11:39 AM
Anonymous

Mr. Twersky, I don't think anyone is arguing with your nicely written comments.

The commenter (#15) simply pointed out that you made a factual error regarding one point. Being that these comments are written on a public blog with a varied audience, Mitzvah observant folk should be careful not to provide misleading information.

You wrote:

"We have made the chumros of the week-month-year into the hallmarks of our progression and advances in avodas Hashem. Our fast food establishments have hechsherim that focus on cholov yisroel, yoshon, bedikas tolaim, glatt, etc"

By including tolaim- the eating of insects, in the "chumrah of the week" phrase, you have made a serious error. This does not take away from the excellent content of your comments, but does need to be corrected.

Thank you for reading this.


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21.     12/13/07 - 12:12 PM
anon #15

Nor is chalav Yisrael a chumra. The prohibition against unsupervised milk, known as chalav akum, is a Rabbinical prohibition like any other.

Nor is yoshon a chumra. It's required in Eretz Yisrael. As for grain grown outside the Land of Israel, it is a subject of debate among halakhic authorities.

Glatt is a requirement for Sefardim, not a chumra.


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22. Halacha on this site     12/13/07 - 1:07 PM
tb

Chalav Yisrael: Chalav Yisrael is a Chumra held by many. There are many Yirei Shamayim, Shomrei Mitzvos who do not keep Chalav Yisrael. There are Rashei Yeshiva from the Feinstein family who do not keep Chalav Yisrael. Enough ignorance, please. Yashan is another matter entirely, largely overlooked in America. Many who keep Chalav Yisrael do not know the laws of Yoshon nor their importance. This blog should not entertain comments regarding Halacha of any kind, either way. Once one is made, all of us fall into this trap and it is a trap. Halacha is not as simple as most think it is. Not enough people who think they know enough to comment actually do. A lot of "halacha" is not necessarily clear cut and each of us must follow his/her Rav. Could everyone get back on track?


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23. enough rudeness     12/13/07 - 3:09 PM
Anonymous

read up on chalav yisrael and you will see that you are mistaken and those who do not buy chalav yisrael products are relying on a heter

it's not that those who observe it are being machmir, quite the contrary

indeed, enough ignorance please, your often rude comments are not appreciated by the reader of this blog

http://www.torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5760/vayikra.html


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24.     12/13/07 - 3:14 PM
yoni

I'm sorry anon, but please read rav moshe's teshuva on the subject.

he states clearly and unconvalutably that it is mutar for everyone, at any time in the united states.

Please read the teshuva before commenting what you heard.


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25. Anon 20     12/13/07 - 3:53 PM
Anonymous

I am "anon" of comment 20. I referred to the eating of insects only. I don't have enough knowledge to refer to the other issues noted, but I do know that eating insects is a very serious sin.

If we take addressing teenager issues seriously, we can also take eating insects seriously. This is not a Kashrut blog. Therefore, I agree with tb, who wrote, "This blog should not entertain comments regarding Halacha of any kind, either way".

My understanding of Mr. Twersky is that he is an Orthodox individual, and therefore should not have made the error of treating the eating of insects so cavalierly. Indeed, this blog should not entertain comments regarding halachah. And if one sees fit to do so (such as referring to insect eating as chumrah instead of halachah in the effort to make a point regarding something else), and makes a serious error that can potentially mislead those less knowledgeable, one should write an immediate retraction, and then move on back to the thread's theme.

Halachah or Kashrut is not the point of this blog or this thread. Nevertheless, if one feels an absolute need to refer to matters of halachah (such as insect eating), even in making an analogy, please ensure that comments are consistent with Torah guidelines.

Again, this does not detract from Mr. Twersky's otherwise excellent points.

Please, this was a simple comment to Mr. Twersky to address an inadvertent error- please let's not get into issues of rudeness, relevancy, or the like.


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26. anon #23, i have checked your link     12/13/07 - 5:43 PM
tb

"What is the practical halachah?" is what Rabbi Neustadt asks in the link you recommend here, Anon #23. I'm sorry, but while Rabbi Neustadt writes in a very clear, well-sourced manner about the subject on the link you advised, he is not my Rav. I do not get my Psak Halacha off the Internet. I'm sorry you find my comments rude. I guess it takes one rude commenter to know another. Again, Halacha should not be discussed in this forum and if it is brought up, I will not allow misleading posts to sit unaddressed.


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27. Can we get back on track - please?     12/15/07 - 11:35 PM
Benzion Twerski

To help get other controversies out of this thread, I re-read my comment, and find that two separate parts of a sentence were confused. I apologize for the tangent that this discussion has taken, and I hope that my clarification will make my point more clear.

I was not referring to the “kashrus” issues as chumros. Those are halachos, some of which involve differences among poskim. I was pointing out that the choices of which halachos to follow are rather interesting, and that we, as a community, have prided ourselves with advancements that leave our younger generation wondering whether there is any seriousness to it. I won’t repeat it all here. But be aware that these were separate parts of a sentence, and I did not think they would be confused. Choshen Mishpat is also halacha, as is lashon hara, etc. Our derech must consider the transmission to the next generation, and my accusation at our community is that we are not doing this well enough to prevent the problems we observe in our children.


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28. Troubled     12/16/07 - 11:19 AM
Anonymous - New York

As a professional and a parent, I am troubled by the notion that any parent would seek an answer to such a complex, individualized decision via an internet post--or that anyone would venture to definitively answer them in a similarly casual manner.

Assuming this post was true and accurate, I would urge the parents to sit down with an experienced and dedicated professional who is very familiar with their situation, and knows the 'players', before deciding on what may be a matter of life and death for a 17 year old, who is legally a minor.

What are the "very" at-risk behaviors involved? If, for example, the teen is buying and selling drugs, that's one issue. If he is merely getting up late for minyan, and the parents view that as being "very at-risk," then the problem may lie more in the parents than in the child.

If this was a multiple-choice question, the correct answer would be "Need More Information."

Such information would include the findings of professionals who have evaluated the child, to determine what is causing the child's behavior, educators who know the child well, a rabbi who knows the family well, etc. A depressed teen could be endangered and at risk of suicide if he is suddenly shown the door, for example.

A teen who is clearly engaging in "very at risk" behaviors, such as heavy illicit drug use, has to be dealt with by professionals. A teen who is testing the limits and searching for his / her identity, perhaps by not fully observing every stringency in Judaism, would be in another category altogether.

So, we need more information.


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29. my response     12/16/07 - 3:21 PM
yakov horowitz - monsey ny

to 'troubled':

I address your very valid point in my response.

I normally post my response within one week. This time, however, I decided to post the question and my response in my regular mishpacha space. I need to wait until this weeks issue hits the newsstands on wednesday to post it.

yakov


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30. Focus / Parenting forums     12/17/07 - 1:35 AM
Ak

R' Twerski - I appreciate your insight that the present ' focus and emphasis ' in observance is damaging to our children and the transmission of our tradition to them. There is a midrash - ba'keish shalom ve'radfei'hu - bakeish shalom ve'lo mitzvot !!!! When we seek relationship, when we focus on the relationship , the way we do mitzvot and observe the Torah not only will improve relationships which is vital for chinuch and mesorah , but people will begin to see mitzvot and halacha in the widest context. I think , it was the Chafetz Chaim who went to watch reb Zundel from Salant lighting the chanaku candles and when Reb Zundel delayed lighting for quite a long time until his wife came home , The Chafetz Chaim asked for an explanation - Chanuka candle lighting is a derabaonon - love your neighbour is from the Torah , so if the halacha allows you to light later and take into account the feelings of your wife , why not do it this way? There are plenty of examples. A Gadol was asked what must a person be careful about when baking matzot - the answer was not to pressurize the workers , don't be a Tzadik at the expense of others . I read of a mashgiah in a matzah factory poselling low quality matzot because it would be ge'zel.

Troubled Anon The parents addressed their question to Rabbi H and there is quite a lot of info there. Parenting forums are a great resource for parents who want to remain ' anon' and benefit from parental expereince. A poll on a parenting forum ( thousands of parents ) said that ' BTDT parents ' been there , done that were the most helpful in helping their kids , better than profesionals. It is amazing when professionals themselves come to these forums and say ' I deal with challenging kids all day ' , now that I have my own I am completely helpless. IMHO there are some professionals who don't have a clue what parents or kids are going through. I do however recommend going to a professional but I qualify that - choose a professional who has a view that children ' do well if they can ' and not children do well if they want to. Parenting forums are very useful to parents in the learning process and I really appreciate when professionals who are also parents join in the discussion. I am looking forward to learning from you 'Anon'


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31. yoni:     12/17/07 - 3:14 PM
Anonymous

re talking to girls, see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, siman 152, se'if 8:

"A person must stay very, very far away from women. It is forbidden to wink at a woman .. to joke, to gaze at her beauty, to smell her perfume .. if one gazes at even her little finger with the intention of taking pleasure from it, his sin is very great..."


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32.     12/17/07 - 6:53 PM
Anonymous

read the sif more carefully.

like most people, you've completely butchered it.

it lists what is forbiden, and all of them are examples of flirting. This is further bolstered by the saifa which mentions gazing (not looking!) specificaly for the purpose of pleasure.

secondly, there is segnificant evidence to show that this is strictly in reference to married women, not single women. (the greeting law, for instance.) (which would be why it is in the section in the big shulchan aruch called "ishus" or refering to the quality of being a married woman.


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33.     12/17/07 - 7:36 PM
Anonymous

first, how is a quote "butchery"?

second, is smelling perfume an example of flirting?

third, what do you think happens when a girl and a boy, or woman and man talk to one another when it's not strictly tachlis? no flirting?

fourth, are you saying then, that the halacha says it's okay to flirt with and gaze at single women?

fifth, the halacha about regards to a wife is obviously about a married woman

the paragraph that precedes it is about any female. If you think otherwise, I'd love to know which rav permits flirting among singles.


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34.     12/17/07 - 7:42 PM
yoni

well, I will point out to you that the bayis chaddash can be quoted as asserting that it is impossible to have "sinful thoughts" because of unmarried women, and relates that such concerns are davka with married ones. (and states further that they are permitted to interact.)

Why? because halachicaly one cannot marry a married woman. One can, however, marry someone who is not married.

secondly, no, boys and girls do not necesserily flirt with each other when it isn't strictly tachlis.

Why should they?

such irrational reactions are entirely uncalled for.


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35.     12/17/07 - 7:48 PM
yoni

oh, and btw, the two halachot share the exact same lashon, both use "isha" or "nashim" which while it means "woman" also means "wife".

Granted in the kitzur the distiction is not so clear, but in the shulchan aruch it is much more so (granted that the who chapter is dedicated to rules about people's wives).

Secondly, you would have to justify why the shulchan aruch does not expressly instead state that "talking to a woman is assur, and even looking at her." Which, sense poskim generaly use as few words as possible, this would have been much easier to relate than to give a whole list of particular prohabitions.

additionaly, smelling the perfume, while not strictly flirting, is accessory to being imtimately close to her, and therefore brings about the same danger.


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36.     12/17/07 - 7:50 PM
Anonymous

I find it hard to believe that he says such a thing since the metzius (ask some honest single men) is otherwise, but I'm willing to look it up if you can tell me where to look.

"Why should they?"

Because they're normal males and females.


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37.     12/17/07 - 8:07 PM
yoni

teshuvot habach hachadashot yorah deah 55(i think)

it is discussing his psak in his bayis chadash on the subject of mixed seating at weddings.

and since he says outright that one can have sinfull thoughts about married women, we cannot conclude that he is saying that the men will not have purient thoughts, only that these thoughts, when about single women, are evidently not sinfull.

and no, the normal way of men and women is not to flirt with everyone they see, and thos whom they do flirt with it is their nature to get married. (hence the psak about pas akum. they did not state that they were afraid of the boy sleeping with her, they said marrying her, which indicates that their view of normal behavior is a desire to get married.


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38. That sief proves what i finally learnt - even apparently     12/19/07 - 2:05 PM
off the derech - NY

straight out stuff in the shulchan aruch & talmud etc. has to be seen in context- pref. with a wise Rabbi- the modern orthodox are doing a much better job at this then us ultra-orthdox-who take everything literal. it's unfortunately a messy complicated business with lots of victims whom are not taught according to their level & path & therefore think that God is a monster. The parents & rabbeim are not at fault either bec. thay are just repeating what theyy were taught. For me, right now it's easier just to throw it all out


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39.     12/19/07 - 2:21 PM
yoni - yoni828@hotmail.com

off the derech, if you want you can email me.

I'll be happy to listen.


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40. Unconditional parenting     12/19/07 - 3:35 PM
AK

Hi, Rav H' - I enjoyed your response and the dvar Torah.

IMHO , having a kid leave home might be in the best interests of a child if the alternative placement would meet the child's needs and help him with his challenges more adequately than the present home situation. When this is done ' working with the child', the relationship can actually improve as the parent is working to help the child , not make their lives and the other siblings easier.

Unconditional Love - Rav H' , you use this term a lot in your writings. Most parents believe they love for their children is unconditional and also believe that their children know and perceive that their parent's love is unconditional. The truth is and what counts is your child's perception of not only your love but how accepting are you of him , does he feel you are disappointed in him if he does not meet your expectations or falls , is your relationship an economic one , contingent on his performance - the need to earn priveleges, withdrawing priveleges , rewarding and punishing , your love is conditional. Parents are told that you must punish out of love and are convinced that they can unconditionally love a child , shower him with love and warmth and at the same time reward and punish. What counts here is a child's perception that not matter how they behave or don't meet our expectations , they feel we care about them , understand them , respect them and love them. The question is not whether we love our kids but how we love them. I recommend looking into Unconditional Parenting - UP by Alfie Kohn http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/content/excerpt.asp see - interview and book excerpt


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41.     12/19/07 - 3:44 PM
Kit

The 1 main thing that I resented when my sib went off the derech was attention and dishonesty.

Dishonesty: my parents ‘covered up’ for the a.r.t.(at-risk teen) – no one was allowed to ‘know’ – at family events everything had to ‘look right’. Even within our home, it was assumed we were blind to the hour the a.r.t came home or the arguments that took place behind closed doors even though we picked it all up.

Attention: They further showed ‘favoritism’ and gave the a.r.t. whatever they wanted, just to ‘keep’ them, without giving us the the reason why, which translated to us as: the a.r.t’s importance superceded ours. Whenever that a.r.t had some traumatic crisis, everyone else’s crisis took second place. As adults , ultimately that a.r.t began to expect the world revolve around them, or else. As we grew up, we learned the exact opposite. No one learned from this a.r.t., we had our own minds, but the resentment over parents’ attention lingers still.

As parents, be loving , be honest, be fair.


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42. stealing     12/19/07 - 5:32 PM
bt

would everyone's opinion be different if the child was stealing from family members,and therefore abused family trust?


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43. Mom of non frum girl     12/19/07 - 6:45 PM
Anonymous - shindyj@optonline.net

After going through a very rough six years with my daughter, in which I alway felt I had to keep her home because she will come back pregnant, it finally came to a point where it was too hard for us and she was not happy staying home either. So we both agreed that we would both benefit from her living out of the house. She now rents an apartment with a girl who is just like she is and she loves it and I have my life and home back! Sure, I worry about her, but it is good for her to learn how to be independant. And it has really helped our relationship, Boruch Hashem. Rabbi Horowitz, your articles just keep getting better and better! Thank you so much!


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44.     12/19/07 - 8:11 PM
Benzion Twerski

#43 described a daughter moving out to live on her own. This situation seems to have satisfied all. The detail that needs emphasis is that the decision was mutual. The question posed at the beginning was more related to asking the child to move out. In #43 case, this relocation does not constitute rejection. The possibility of rejection and its consequences are what generated the flurry of responses and discussion.

I am glad that this move worked out for #43. It can be a positive change if it handled properly. I am often asked by parents if the child should be thrown out. Even that drastic option is sometimes, though rarely indicated. Unless there is danger involved, I usually vote against “throwing out”. Yet, parents often raise the question, and I accept this as a statement of their frustration and anger, not intentions.


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45. Being in the Parsha     12/19/07 - 9:00 PM
Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids - Lawrence, NY - Aries2756@optonline.net

As a mentor and coach I also try to teach parents to love their children unconditionally as well as differentiating between "Tough Love" and "Loving Tough". From my own experience I can tell you that anyone who is not "in the Parsha" can not give you appropriate advice because no matter how much they want to help, try to help or think they understand they are only peering through the windows. No one truly can understand your situation unless they have lived through it so the best people to turn to are those who have weathered the storms and lived to speak about it.

Rabbi Horowitz has described it briliiantly. We must love our children "no matter what" because they are our children. We may not love what they do, what they wear, how they behave, but they are our children and we love them. I will give the speach that I have given at least a hundred times already:

Hashem tests everyone in different ways. Our children are going through their own nisyonos and we don't know why, and in most cases we don't understand what they are going through. We also seem to miss the point that they are not alone. We are also being tested. Yes this is also a nisayon for us, the parents, the siblings, the neighbors, aunts, uncles, cousins, Rebbeim, teachers, administrators, and friends. What are we going to do about our children? And when I say "our" children I want you to understand that if it is happening to your neighbor's biological child it is still "our" children because he/she is a member of Klal Yisroel and "Kol Yisroel Arevim Zeh LaZeh".

So each and every one of us are also being tested by Hashem. We are each going through a Nisayon and most of us don't seem to get it. What are we doing about these children in pain? Do we throw them out? Do we ask them to leave because they are not living up to our expectations or following our rules? Do we give up on them? After 120 how do we explain that to Hashem when we stand and give our Din V'cheshbon?

As a mother you have the right instincts and your son has obviously been raised remarkably well. You did an excellent job because although he is on this dark journey he is not rubbing it in your face. He seems to be responsible and accountable and he does not wish to share or spread his pain to you or his siblings. He obviously loves all of you very much. Why would you want to ask him to leave and add more pain to his burden? Why would you want to break his heart? What purpose would that serve? Would it make your neighbors more comfortable?

This is an issue between Hashem and Him. When your husband stood up at his Bar Mitzvah and said "Boruch ShePatrani" he turned him over to Hashem and said the two of you must form your own relationship. Right now that relationship is a little rocky. But Hashem is in control, they will work things out eventualy at the right pace and at the right time. But if you throw him out where will he go when that happens?

Everyone needs a support system and that does not necessarily mean money. Support comes in many different ways. Everyone needs support in their own way and some people need more or less at various times in their lives. Parents in the parsha need as much support as their children during this difficult journey. One thing that needs to be understood and it is a very difficult concept. You have to separate your pain from your son's pain because it has nothing to do with you. It is not about you and he is not doing it to hurt you. When we realize this it is easier to deal with the outside world.

The next step is to realize that loving your children and explaining to the rest of your children that your son is going through a nisayon and that "He" is responsible and accountable for his actions. But that does not mean that you love him any less. Your love is unconditional for all your children because you are "parents" and each one of your children are gifts from Hashem. Also that you have Bitachon in Hashem that whatever is troubling your son, he will work it out with him and eventually, you don't know how long it will take because Hashem is in charge and he gives each of us different nisyonos, but eventually there will be a good outcome.

As far as your friends, neighbors, and relatives are concerned you have to remember how much you love your child and never ever be embarrassed or ashamed of him. He can't be the white elephant in the room. You can't control anyone but yourself, you can't control what your son does any more than you can control what anyone else thinks about him, so the best you can do for yourself is love your child and not care what anyone else thinks.

If your son knows that you love him with all your heart and soul it will help the healing process, it will give him the confidence to work out his issues, it will not allow him to look for excuses to "blame" his parents for his issues or to self-medicate (if he is not doing that already) because his pain is just to unbearable.

One little note to "Yoni". This particular parsha is a very difficult one and this "sheilah" was very heartbreaking. Each time I hear this question it breaks my heart and tears at my soul. Using this forum to have a halachic boxing match with Rabbi Twersky was totally inappropriate. It was terribly insensitive to try to devert attention to your halachic expertise instead of allowing the comments to be focused on the very important topic and to give the writer the utmost support and assistance that she deserved.


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46. Been there     12/20/07 - 12:31 AM
Yoel B

If he's still respectful in many ways, that's terrific. At this point, respecting family rules in the "public" parts of your home is part of derech eretz, and that you expect that from him even though he's not observant in the way you would like. (That also draws a better line for asking him to leave.) I think that the other kids will feel reassured if they see that distinction made.

Make sure that whenever he does something good that's above and beyond, that he gets some acknowledgement for it. Make it heartfelt but matter-of-fact, and don't go overboard with it. Part of the point he's making is that he's not a kid anymore. If it's appropriate, let the other kids see it. Make sure he knows that if he acts like a mentsch you respect him for it. Actually, you should be encouraging him to leave -- by encouraging him to pursue training that will improve his earning ability at honest work. Make sure that he knows you respect honest work. Let your other kids see that.

Also, even though the "problem" may be one child, don't forget the other kids. Just because they're not acting out in a bigger way, doesn't mean they don't need time with you.


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47. We can relate     12/20/07 - 2:01 AM
Chana

I would like to respond to R' Twersky and Nechama's comments above. While both of their responses rang true and show a good understanding of these kind of situations, I wonder if they themselves have had to deal with this kind of situation with one of their own children. Although being a "noge'a b'davar" might give me a slanted view, "Ad shetagia l'mkomo" is a very powerful tool.

Having a 15-and-a-half year old son with a similar story, I could have written this letter almost word for word. The only difference is that my son has not taken (and we hope he never will take) the final step into complete irreligiosity.

R' Twersky writes that it sounded like the parents only addressed the educational aspects when the child was growing up and didn't address the at-risk part. First of all, in our case as in many, this is our oldest child. We did not know the at-risk statistics or think that our son, who has a minor learning disability but has genius potential, needed anything more than some extra help to get around his learning disability. My son has a wonderful personality and is very kind and good-natured and makes friends easily. We did not know that the frustration he was dealing with in his learning would translate into a child who lost motivation to even try and eventually to becoming an at-risk teen. We kept him in schools where we could be involved in his chinuch and with his teachers, we gave him tutors to help him get ahead of his disability, and although he wasn't getting very far in his learning, he wasn't rebelling or upset and was still a well-behaved, very likeable person. It was only right before his bar mitzvah that we saw that he was starting to gravitate toward bad friends in the neighborhood and he started being openly disdainful of some religious practices. At that time, we got him a mentor who has a lot of experience with working with at-risk teens (which we thought was overkill, but couldn't hurt). With so many kids out there today labeled with minor learning disabilities, how many parents who DO know the statistics would give their child psychological help or take other active preventative measures before the child even showed signs of being at-risk -- unless they have already had the experience with another of their children? Is it really fair to blame these parents for not having done so?

R' Twersky, you asked what the "(very) at-risk" behavior was. The buzz in the responses after that ranged from the parents overreacting to the child not davening/putting on tefillin to having relationships with girls and doing drugs. Well, if this 17-year-old is anything like my son, (who I would label with the same "(very) at risk" label) he might be stealing, lying, watching violent and X-rated movies that he procures from "street friends", disappearing for hours at a time, etc. So no, he has not yet tried drugs, and no, he says he is not interested in having a girlfriend right now. But should I not consider him "very at risk" because some of his "good" friends do and they are feeding him everything they know and he is swallowing it like candy?

As far as the effect of the at-risk teen on siblings, I find that one of the hardest things to deal with is making the other teens in the house understand with their hearts that this teen has another set of rules. Oh, sure, we have had many deep and serious discussions about the fact that their older brother is hurting and he is like a handicapped person or someone in a bad mood, so we have to "humor" him and not burden him too much and just show him a tremendous amount of love and care so that he knows that he is an integral part of our family and without him a piece would be missing. However, what are you supposed to say to a 14 year old who is on-track religiously is in a bad mood and asks, "Why do I have to wear my hat and jacket for mincha -- it's so cumbersome?!" when his 15 year old brother is sitting on the couch and doesn't even go to mincha. When there is someone in the house who doesn't follow the rules, it has its effects on the other children -- even if just to show them "there is such a situation when one is excused from following rules". It also makes it a lot harder for the parents to appear to the other teens in the house as being fair to everyone. Teens tend to measure things by their own individual rulers -- and by them, everyone gets measured with the same ruler. However, parents ideally should be measuring each child with a different ruler -- "al pi darko".

One last thing, there was one comment that Nechama made that really bothered me. She wrote: "Even if you as parents "did everything more or less right" - you obviously didn't, not as far as this kid's chinuch needs were concerned. Why not? I'm sure it was not deliberate, but it happened. FIND OUT WHAT WENT WRONG."

We have spoken to any number of proffessionals and laymen and if there is one thing that everyone agrees it is that many (most?) times the parents are not at fault. Would you blame Yitzchak Avinu for having a son who came out like Eisav? Chazal tell us that both Eisav and Yaakov had equal opportunity -- they both got the same chinuch. Today, there are so many teens at risk. Much of the problem could be solved here in eretz yisrael if the educational system was willing to change and if our chareidi chug would be willing to do something different for these kids. Unfortunately, the basic consensus among the rabbonim here is that until a child is off the derech he cannot be taught anything other than limudei kodesh. Our chug cannot face the fact that some kids are just not made out to be kollel yungermen. And, since these kids want to fit in and be respected as much as their peers, they feel ashamed to even think of getting and education that would allow them to get an upstanding job which would make them "second class citizens". My son is still adamant that gemara is his favorite subject although he hasn't opened one in more than a year! These kids are going through teenagerhood with all that that entails at the same time that they are discovering that they are considered the "failures" of our society and that there is another society out there where they can feel successful. They only want to meet their basic needs: to fit-in and feel respected, happy, and successful! We, as parents without a tremendous lump of cash and resources cannot create such an environment. The only thing we CAN do is nurture our relationship with our children so that they still have an anchor. We can show them and instill in them the knowledge that we will always love them and accept them no matter what.

I also beg to differ with Nechama on her statement: "A kid who went off has severe issues with you, his parents, even if neither he nor you is acknowledging them." This is not true. Recently, we asked my son to write a list of the things that he would want to change in his learning environment that would make it ideal. We also asked him to make a list of the things he would want to change at home to make his home ideal. He came up with 10 serious issues on his yeshivah list (e.g., there should be at least one staff member who he can talk to and will understand him), but could only come up with 3 superficial items on his home list (e.g., the house should be neater). When he gave me the lists, he said that he felt it wasn't fair that I asked him to write a list of the things that he didn't like at home without asking him to write a list of the things he liked at home. So, while I would agree that my son has serious issues with his religiosity and with his outside-the-home environment, a child who turns to his parents for love and feels comfortable in his own home, though he may not always agree with his parents, most probably does not have "severe issues" with his parents.

What statistics have shown, baruch Hashem, is that kids who do feel comfortable at home, and have that good relationship with their parents that this person describes, most often do return to yiddishkeit as well. This is our nechamah for watching our son go through this difficult period of unhappiness and not really being able to do much more than daven hard as we just stand by and watch and try to kiss his tears away.

Chizku v'amtzu!


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48. Working with vs doing to     12/20/07 - 2:09 AM
Ak

Hi, Sheree B - I am not sure what you mean by ' Loving Tough' . The question I feel is where is the focus of your parenting , problem solving, working with the child, giving him a voice , supporting his autonomy, giving him respect , working towards mutual satisfying solutions or 'doing to ' a kid , manipulating behavior through praise , rewards , punishments or psuedo choices. Giving choices is still very much top- down parenting where the parent alone decides. So many books talk about unconditional love , yet their recommndations focus on be contigent, using consequences and other behavior modification techniques.

Kit - Thanks for sharing your experience . I think kids feel that fair does not mean equal and that some kids need more attention than others. Raising and living with a challenging kid is incredibly stressful for the whole family. It often means that the family can no longer socialize or go out to places as a family , besdides the constant stress and living in a dysfunctional family. This causes resentment by siblings to the parents and the challenging kid. I don't believe the whole family must go under because of one kid and an alternative placement which would serve the interests of the challenging kid , whether for eg a foster home, Therapeutic boarding schools, Residential treatment centers. Ideally one should have family therapy , individual therapy , mentoring , maybe meds and try to deal with problems , worrking with the kid , could be violence and stealing issues as well, before finding a placement and of course the most important thing is action with Tefilah


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49. It takes a village to raise a child     12/20/07 - 2:33 AM
Ak

Chana, I wish you every success with your child. There is an African saying - It takes a whole village to raise a child , but when your village is contributing to the problem , things are so much difficult. I don't blame parents , for the most the traditional methods of parenting are inadequate to address the challenges and can make matters worse. Maybe' homeschooling ' , doing a bagrut with the help of volunteer tutors may be the way to go. Maybe your child would be happy with thistype of arrangement


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50. volunteers     12/20/07 - 4:33 AM
Chana

Ak, thank you for your well-wishes. I'd like to respond to your post at the risk of taking this thread a little off the topic.

We all need to feel like we are trying our best but at the same time to always strive to find a new road that might help. Homeschooling would definitely be a better option for our son and for many others in his yeshivah. In fact, he is constantly nudging us to take him out of school and let him stay home. Many of us would consider this if we knew of such "volunteer tutors" as you mentioned or an organization that offers such services for a nominal fee. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not think such a thing exists for boys in this country -- let alone in the Yerushalayim area. Like most large families here, we do not have anywhere close to the budget it would take to homeschool him and pay full tutoring fees.

In addition, in order to make up for the lack of social "chevre" in a homeschooling program, he would also need to have a full-time mentor-mashgiach-friend who could help him get past and far away from the garbage his current friends are teaching him that is pulling him down into a pit. This person would also have to instill in him an excitement for his learning -- whatever he may be learning with his tutors. In order to be happy, every teenager needs to believe in what he is doing and be excited about how he fills his time, and they can only believe in the things they see themselves succeeding at. As mature adults, we can force ourselves to overcome the need for excitement in our jobs and daily lives when necessary, but that ability only comes with true maturity. Many of these kids have lost faith in their scholastic achievement, and to say that they are not excited about book learning would be the understatement of the year. To fill the void, they get excited about other things. In my son's case, that would be movies and soccer. And here is where he becomes at-risk -- both religiously and as a person. Because he knows that regardless of how well his family accepts him, within religious circles he will never be accepted as a "success" with these interests and goals. So, he has no other choice but to turn to the society that will look up to him for his social nature and agree with his priorities along with ignoring his scholastic failures. In my opinion, the ideal solution would be to create a system within our religious society that would look up to and accept him for his character and good nature despite and without degrading him for his interests and priorities -- with the long-term goal of changing them to something more in-tune with being a "Torah im derech eretz" type of Yid. This should not be an embarrassing thing!!! It would also demand a switch in the way our society views men who go out to work in non-chinuch-related jobs. (Hey, some of the biggest talmidei chachamim in past generations where cobblers and carpenters!) These kids need to see that they don't have to go all the way to the other side and throw away everything that they know and grew up with in order to gain a feeling of acceptance.

If anyone has any viable suggestions, I know a whole slew of parents who would be infinitely grateful!


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51. Part of the solution     12/20/07 - 5:37 AM
AK

Chana, I also live here - gush Dan area , identifying with one community paints one to one corner and really limits the possibilities of helping children. The starting point IMHO is to get your son's input on how he sees his future , what will help him transition into adulthood , what will help him become an independent , self supporting young adult that is caring and responsible. No matter where he is holding in Yiddishkeit , there is no getting away from becoming a functional young person. How old is he ? , what about the army? Maybe one can start small , have goals and start to work towards them. Maybe meet with a buddy-tutor , mentor etc study what he wants to learn. You may need a few people , maybe you can find them in your shul or maybe yeshivos like Aish Hatorah , Or sameach may have students who are willing to give your son some time. Your son has to part of the solution. The soccer in a sense is positive , it gives him a reason to get up in the morning. Hang in there


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52.     12/20/07 - 6:01 AM
yoni

sharri, being that I am at risk, I tend to respond to at risk issues by adressing what I would want addressed, the damaging dynamic that forces youngsters to be alone for long periods of time.

and, given such general statements as are present here, coupled with the assertion that he's otherwise a good kid, I tend to think based on what I've learned through experience, that the one thing that will singlehandedly earn a kid the "at risk" lable. is hanging around girls, or having a girlfriend, even if you're not trying to be promiscuous at all.

granted chana's treatment of the issue is certainly better than mine, but generaly my first response is to respond to what I see as a likely issue that could push someone to be at risk, without pushing them to drugs etc.

oh, and chana, if you want to address the needs of your teen, get a list of shulchan aruch, perkei avos and shulchan aruch quotes about the necessity of teaching a child a trade, and the evils of not persuing a trade. My suspicion is that for a child like that the self righteousness of doing what the gemorah says even though so many others are not doing what it says may well be enough to tip the scales vis a vis the childs occupying himself in something usefull. Also pointing out that if he does well in his studies, goes to college or something, and comes out a frum yid and gets a reasonably paying job, he will be the one people will be turning to for help.

either one of those may feed his ego in a way that will at the very least make certain that your child is busy, occupied and off the streets.


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53. going out of the chug     12/20/07 - 6:58 AM
Chana

I guess I didn't state clearly that we are perfectly willing for our son to leave chareidi lifestyle (even though some big names in kids-at-risk chinuch have told us that to send him out of the chareidi world would be doing him a tremendous disservice and our only chance is to hold him in the chareidi lifestyle at all costs). He is 15 and we have looked into other chugim for him. The Breslov/Carlebach society for instance is much more warm and accepting and some of their mosdos don't necessarily measure a boys' worth by how many dapei gemarah he has learned. Our son, however, is still stuck on an "all or nothing" binge. When we mentioned to him that we thought he might want to learn a vocation and leave full time yeshivah, he was emphatic that Gemara was his favorite subject and he didn't want to leave the yeshiva system. He has a hard time setting realistic goals for himself. He does not want to switch to another chug socially, is afraid that he will feel alienated from everything he knows and, as unhappy as he is, he is comfortable in the familiar and afraid of the unknown even though he knows he is considered and considers himself a failure in the chareidi society. Since I absolutely agree that he has to be part of the decision-making process to make a change toward becoming a mentch and a responsible human being, this is not something I can force on him. Until I have something better to offer him, such as taking a job-related learning track in a private setting where he doesn't have to publicly switch chugim and can gradually find his nitch and create his own personal relationship with Hashem (or lack thereof), I cannot do much. As parents, our current realistic goals for our son (based on where he is holding now) are that somehow he get through the next 2 years of his life without self-distructing or disconnecting with his family and then have him enter nachal chareidi. As unconventional as that sounds, we think it might be the key that opens doors for him to reality and the beginning of a road to happiness. The question is if we can help him move forward (or at least keep him from falling any deeper into the mud) over the next couple of years until he is old enough to enter the program. It is awful to think that he will be in the same situation, and very possibly worse, in two years time.


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54. RE # 43 and moving out     12/20/07 - 8:14 AM
Zachary Kessin - Israel - zkessin@kessin.com

There may come a time where it makes more sense for the child to move out and find his or her own place. But that can be handled well or badly. "GET OUT AND DON'T EVER COME BACK" is bad. "Maybe you will be happier in your own apartment, why do I help you find one" can be good. In that case a parent can provide support while the child looks for a place to live, room mates etc. Even showing up with a house warming present after the move. Then the kid is out of the *HOUSE* but still part of the family.

+


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55.     12/20/07 - 10:14 AM
yoni

chana, have you ever thought about introducing him to a nice, understanding bochur, and pressuring him to hang out with him a little bit? sounds like he's unhappy with his friends too if this is the story, and maybe he's just afraid of being rejected. Maybe since he likes gemorah so much you could set him up with a boy his age or a small bit older who's really solid in his yiddishkeit, and does not readily distain others, and see if it works out.

It sounds like he wants other friends but is afraid of rejection, and maybe you could mitigate that. especialy as you said he doesn't seem to be sabotoging anyone elses yiddishkeit.

it just sounds to me like he needs a friend who'll accept him for who he is. (and if he enjoys gemorah so much, I'll bet he has a good head for it, maybe he is just struggling with the language, and giving him an arameic and a hebrew grammar might help him? I mean, I really don't know, but perhaps it might help, I've known plently of others who couldn't learn gemorah because they couldn't figure out the language just by having it read to them.)


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56.     12/20/07 - 10:17 AM
yoni

sorry, ment set him up for a chevrusah


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57. Mentors forum     12/20/07 - 11:26 AM
Anonymous - spring valley - alizaydys@optonline.net

I heard that there will be a forum on your site for mentors to chat when is this taking place?


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58. definition     12/20/07 - 12:16 PM
Anonymous

If a child went off the derech, then by definition, he/she is not at risk. I find it annoying to see the term "at risk" used incorrectly.

Example - a person is at risk of getting killed if they cross Ocean Parkway against the light on a busy day, but that's not equivalent to being hit by a car!

"At risk" in our discussions means that a child has some factors working against him that make it more likely that they will abandon religious practice.


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59. s. belsky:     12/20/07 - 12:28 PM
M

anyone who is not "in the Parsha" can not give you appropriate advice because no matter how much they want to help, try to help or think they understand they are only peering through the windows. No one truly can understand your situation unless they have lived through it so the best people to turn to are those who have weathered the storms and lived to speak about it.

Are you saying then, that Rabbi Horowitz and Dr. Twerski, for example, are not people to turn to unless their own children have given them grief and have gone off the derech or have almost done so?

It is not about you and he is not doing it to hurt you.

Do you know the person who asked the question? How do you know it's not about them? How do you know it's not to hurt them? Whether hurting them is his conscious goal or not, he has to be aware that they are hurt.

you have to remember how much you love your child and never ever be embarrassed or ashamed of him

Is that reasonable? Is that normal? You think a parent should be just as proud of their irreligious child as of their religious child, both of whom were raised in a frum home?

and I don't think your chastising Yoni was at all appropriate


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60. In Response     12/20/07 - 2:59 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

To #58 definitions unfortunately "At Risk" is a term that was coined to describe our children in pain. It incorporates children at various stages of this dark journey all the way to the point where they are "off-the-derech". I usually use the term "parents-at-risk" because we are at risk of losing our children".

To # 59 M, Rabbi Horowitz and Rabbi Twerski have been working with children and parents for years. They have done something that other Rebbeim and therapists have not yet accomplished and that is to "listen to understand". That is a great accomplishment and there is something else that they have accomplished. They use Torah values of heart, compassion, kindness, warmth, generosity of spirit and soul. They leave the judging to Hashem and they take their job of "Ovdei Hashem" seriously. They truly understand that the job Hashem entrusted to them as "crisis intervention" counselors is to assist children and families with these very serious issues and not to judge them. With the tools that the Torah has given them and with the training that they sought in programs and schools, they have combined the best of what was taught them to work with children and families in the parsha. So although your post comes from an aspect of another "judgmental Jew", I am not offended I chalk it up to a lack of knowledge and understanding.

In the same vein let me address the issue of "Judgmental Jews who hold themselves holier than thou". This parsha can challenge anyone. It does not hit the poorest of the poor nor the lowest on the learning level. Hashem tests anyone and everyone. Boys and Girls in the parsha come from the poorest homes and the wealthiest of homes. They come from the most modern homes and the most chareidi homes. They come from the most simple homes and homes from the most well known and famous Rebbeim of our time. It can happen to a child from the most dysfunctional home to the most solid home. Hashem tests anyone he chooses to test.

Many people ask me why this happens. Aside from the explanation that I give above, people want something more tangible. So for those who had the nerve to judge the writer and take issue with her parenting skills I will share with you what I share with others.

Children have the two legs Hashem gave them and each one of them are firmly planted, one in the foundation of the home and the other in the foundation of the school/yeshiva. If there is a crack in either of these foundations their world starts to crumble. Parents and Educators must form an aliance and partnership for the wefare of the child. If that is not established from day one, and if it is not about the child from day one keep your eyes open for problems down the road.

For anyone who is looking to play the blame game there is no point unless you want to go back to the day the child was born. The point is "you" do not live in "their" home. You have no idea what their story is, so you have no right to judge anyone else but yourself. You have no right to determine someone's parenting skills except for your own. I have heard many a parent say "if that was my child, I would this or that..." only to find two years down the road that Hashem visited them with the same Nisayon. Be very careful about judging your neighbors.

To Yoni, I appreciate your input as "someone who knows" and feel your fire and a bit of anger and resentment too. You must also know that a 17 year old will not listen to a parent about who to be friends with, nor accept a mentor or "chavrusa". Anything a parent wants a child to hear in their teenage years must come from someone other than themselves. Anything a parent says is stupid. However if their words come out of someone else's mouth its brilliant.

Every child needs to be taught according to their own needs. Hashem has also gifted every child with their own individual talents and traits. Each one of these have to be developed and enhanced. And Yoni you are a thousand percent correct. Not every young man is cut out to be a Rebbe or can learn 24/7. Children are not robots, they are children and they will make mistakes it is their job to make mistakes because they are children. The reason they make mistakes is so that they can learn from them. They are living and breathing individuals. They must be taught the Torah "AND" the beauty of the Torah and Yiddishkeit. But they also must see how Great and Generous Hashem is and how and why we must be grateful to him for everything he gave us. Especially the personal gifts to each and every one of us. Some kids are athletic, some are academic, some are artistic and some are musical. These are all gifts from Hashem.

Each and every child is a gem that Hashem entrusted to us. How we, the adults, parents and mechanchem polish them will determine how they sparkle and shine. If we don't recognize the beauty in each of them we will never truly understand their individual value.

So I hope that everyone who is reading this post is understanding my message. It is our job to love our children unconditionally. It is our job to recognize the beauty in every child, and to love every single one of Hashem's children because they are all amazing. If you see a child in the street and he has long hair and grungy clothes say hello. Don't pull away from him and judge him. Because the goyim will embrace him. Your hello will mean so much more to him than the hugs and "hey mans" of 20 goyim.

And "yes" to the poster who asked if you should be just as proud of your irreligious child as of your religious child. Because you are not looking at his potential if you are not. Pride is a very dangerous attribute. It does not reflect on your children it reflects on you and your attitude. You have no idea today what your children will be like in 10 years or 20. Your child who is irreligious today can be a great sprititual leader 20 years from now. And your child who is religious today can be his gabbah, or just a regular "joe shmoe". So be careful about your own attitudes and what you teach your children about being a faithful and religious Jew. As Jews we must love our fellow Jews with all our hearts and souls kal v'achomer our own children.

Remember it is not our jobs to judge. It is our job to follow the Torah and be the best Jews we can be so that we can be good role models to others.

As far as understanding the difference between "tough love" and "loving tough". The concept of "tough love" giving your children ultimatums, throwing them out, showing who is boss and so on is the worst thing a parent can do. Choose to "Love tough". Choose to love them with all your heart and soul unconditionally and remember that they come before your judgmental friends and family.

As a coach I will share with you a coaching tool and technique: As far as "giving them everything"...children should be taught from a very young age that when they choose an action they are also "choosing" the reward or consequence that comes along with that action. That teaches them to be responsible and accountable. Rewards and consequences should be very clear from the start and should be set forth in "family rules" and should never be sprung on children after the fact. Rewards and consequences should be appropriate to the actions and parents should always follow through. If a consequence is known beforehand and it is appropriate to the action it is easier to handle when there is an issue. For instance if a child breaks a curfew and is grounded for the next day or for the next weekend it makes a lot more sense and easier to accomplish than yelling at a child and grounding them for life. You know you can't follow through on something like that. The child is also aware before they break the curfew that they will give up going out the next night or the next weekend it is their choice and they know you will enforce that. So they are in essense choosing the consequence when choosing to break the rule. Even if you have to give up your night out and stay home with the child, you must enforce the consequence.

If you do have to give a consequence for an unusual situation don't do it out of anger. Calm down first. Take two deep breaths before speaking. Allow the child to tell their side and listen to understand. Begin by repeating what the child said in an understanding tone. "I want to be sure I understand what happened...You this....then this happened....so and so did....the reason you did this was...". After repeating the story breathe and think for a few minutes. Be understanding and then say "I think I understand the situation, however you do understand that you and you alone are responsible and accountable for your choices and your actions. I can understand that there can be unusual circumstances but what do you think you could have done differently to have had a different outcome in this situation?" After the reply, you can point out that it was his choice not to do that and now he will know what the "right" choice will be in the future. Then ask what he thinks would be an appropriate consequence for the action. You don't have to choose his consquence but allow him to have an opinion and be part of the process. It is very important for a child to feel he has been "heard" and for a parent to really listen to understand. At that point when it is clear that you have each understood each other you can decide on a consequence.

One more thing. I don't have to know the writer to know it is not about her and her son is not doing it to hurt her. If he was trying to hurt her his behavior would show it. This is not the behavior of a child who is trying to hurt his parents. Adaraba he is very respectful of his parents and is not being mechalel in front of them.

Sherree Belsky Director Kids Count Foundation


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61. Forums     12/20/07 - 3:15 PM
Admin - Brooklyn, NY - admin@rabbihorowitz.com

I heard that there will be a forum on your site for mentors to chat when is this taking place?

We have just launched the general forums today. The mentoring forums, for Project YES mentors, will follow shortly.

You can access the forums by clicking on the link in the upper left corner of this page or by clicking here

We hope to meet you in the forums!

Admin


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62. Conditional parenting     12/20/07 - 4:20 PM
AK

Sheree B, Your coaching technique is what conditional parenting is all about. Accountability means making a commitment to the future , coming up with a better plan and making restitution. Consequences teach kids to ask what's in it for me The method of using consequences or 'punishment lite' is essentially negative: I can't communicate with you, and so I'll hurt you if you don't mind me. The positive counterpoint is: We all make mistakes, and you can trust me to help you do better in the future.

http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/content/excerpt.asp


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63. To improve the situation.     12/20/07 - 4:30 PM
Nechama

Chana,

I certainly didn't mean to upset anyone, and I guess I didn't word my comments sensitively enough for people going through this difficult parsha. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to lay the blame on you for where he is up to. I meant really that parents can often help in ways they never knew about.

For example, if you want to try calling me on Motzei Shabbos, or next week, I'll try to give you a half-hour with EFT on his behalf. He doesn't need to know about it. EFT is a form of energy healing, which can be done through the phone, and I have Haskomos from prominent Rabonim. I did EFT a few months ago (surrogately) for a young man who was not Davening. Within a few days he was Davening 3x a day, and now he even gets up for Vasikin. May he continue to improve. (I cannot prove that he changed as a result of the energy work).

Half an hour will probably not be enough, but it may be enough for you to know if it is a derech with which to proceed. My number is 02 9921821.


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64. PLEASE RESPOND/STEALING     12/20/07 - 5:32 PM
BT

Sorry to repeat myself, but does anyone have the experience of a child stealing from his family? We are in the position where our son has stolen large sums of money from us. When it was discovered, we immediately went to a therapist with him, (yes, another one). We tried to take the steps suggested to deal with it. At one point we needed to tell him he could no longer stay at home. This was very difficult, but we could not trust him in our own home. Can you imagine having to lock things up in your home? His brother hasn't trusted him for most of his life. Now our son is over 20 yrs. old, has moved out, in, out... > We just don't know how to handle it> There are issues of ADHD, as are in many of these type situations. However, there are adults with ADHD, and they have had to adjust their lives to accommodate for it. We are lost after approximately 10 years of lying, stealing, being mechalel most mitzvos we hold dear,although typically in a secretive way (so as not to upset us). He also is respectful of us, in that he isn't mechalel Shabbos in front of us, yet his thinly veiled stories have just made us always suspicious, and barely able to believe anything he says. I know this has run on, yet back to the very beginning question of this discussion.....When or if, do you tell your child to leave?


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65. re: stealing     12/20/07 - 7:26 PM
Chana

BT, we are still in the parshah and are far from the finish line with our 15 year old so I cannot pretend to know the answers. When I saw your first post on this thread I considered answering it, but I figured it would be better to wait and see what more experienced people would have to say. Maybe I would learn something, too. However, I see that your plea for help went ignored, as has ours over the years as well. Well, maybe I shouldn't say ignored... just that nobody has any viable answer.

Our son also started stealing and lying when he was about 8 (he is 15 today). It is an issue that we have tried to deal with in many ways. There are some people who will tell you that it means that he is lacking something in his life and that if you had provided it he would not be stealing today. Although this may be true with some kids, I do not believe it is the case with all stealing problems in kids. Our son began stealing as a way to make friends and gain popularity since he wasn't a high achiever scholastically, and baruch Hashem he doesn't have the personality to make antics and gain attention that way. However, friends was not something I could have supplied him with.

We spoke to rabbonim and professionals about how to respond to his stealing, but nobody could really give us any valuable information although we really tried every piece of advice we were offered in its time. Then the stealing and lying got worse. I could no longer differentiate between when he was lying to me and when he wasn't by looking him in the eye. He came up with a plethora of extraordinarily believeable excuses for all the things that would turn up in his pockets.

And then, the stealing wasn't for his friends anymore. It was a way for him to get what he wanted NOW and without having to put out an effort to earn it. This, more than anything else is his motto today. He has taught himself the terrible habit that everything can be obtained easily. (Terribly unrealistic view of the world.) I know exactly how you feel about having to lock everything up in the house. We've been doing it for as long as I can remember. And, as soon as we think we have everything under lock and key we discover that he has figured out a way to open the locks. We took to keeping only limited amounts of cash in the house and whatever cash there was had to be in my husband's wallet in his pocket. Our other children know that if they have pocket money and want it to be there when they want to use it, they had better either hide it well or turn it over to us for safekeeping.

There is no question that the feeling in the house of constant suspicion is debilitating for the entire family and ruins your relationship with your child as well as drains your patience and makes you more likely to overreact with your other children.

We were very lucky to have had the siyatta d'Shemaya to have met up with Mrs. Devorah Weiss through an article posted on Rabbi Horowitz's website. She is a M.S.W. and a certified parent/teen coach with loads of first-hand personal experience. We were getting to the point where we didn't know what to do with ourselves anymore. By teaching us the tools of Choice Theory, Mrs. Weiss has been a lifesaver for us, our son, and the rest of our family. She clearly showed us where we had gone wrong, gave us a lot of encouragement for having gotten as far as we had, and taught us how to love our son and not resent him. It's all a matter of perspective.

Today, I have internalized that I cannot change anyone but myself. I cannot force my child to stop stealing or any other self-destructive behavior. What I can and must do as his mother is provide him with a stable, loving environment where his relationship with his parents and his family takes presidence in any discussion we have with him. This means no criticism, no blaming, no asking where things came from, no checking up on him. And truthfully, what were we getting out of all the checking and blaming we were doing previously? 10 times out of 10 he made up a story about where he had "found" the item which we could not refute and we ended up with a hashovas aveidah box that was overflowing with expensive gadgets and cash. These reactions only served to sever our relationship with him.

There have been a couple of times in the past that we were able to prove that he had stolen something and we knew where it had come from. In these cases, we required him to return the item to the owner. We have paid literally thousands of dollars in cash to cover his stealing throughout the years. And, although there was a point about a year ago that he admitted that he had a stealing problem, today he claims that he has kicked it. Yet, it was just last week that I found a receipt and warranty for another electronic gadget that he had paid 400 shekels for in cash. My son doesn't have that kind of pocket money. However, this is his problem.

I can daven for him with a mother's tears. I can still love him and be as caring and sympathetic a mother as I know how to be. It cuts through me when I think about how horrible he must feel inside about himself. These are inately good kids. They know that stealing is wrong. Every time that they steal, they feel dirty and degraded inside -- even though they put on a "who cares" attitude for everyone around them. Can you imagine how devastatingly unhappy these kids must be?!

You don't have to tell me that letting go is not easy. I still need Devorah to remind me from time to time that I am trying to subtly control my son. However, you cannot imagine the relief of stress that dissapates over the house when you finally decide to stop trying to control him and just love him and respect him.

Of course, you need to protect yourself and there will be things you won't be able to do because of his sticky fingers. We have not gone away for Shabbos in a long time because we don't want to take responsibility for him stealing things in someone else's apartment. We also won't send him to a yeshiva with a dorm, because it is a sure way for him to get caught and expelled. Additionally, finding him a job is also almost impossible.

One of these days he is going to have to either decide for himself that he's had enough and he's going to be clean, or, alternatively, he will get caught, taken to jail, and will have to live with the consequences. With all my heart I hope that it is the former and not the latter. But that will be his choice.

So, to an extent you can say that I am just burying my head in the sand and ignoring the problem. My answer to that is: what is the alternative? I cannot change him. All my "confiscating" "educating" and "punishing" him is going to do is sever my relationship with him -- which is the only thing of value that we share...and it is priceless.

If you wish to learn more about how to apply Choice Theory to your situation, Mrs. Weiss' e-mail is devorah.weiss@yahoo.com.

Hatzlachah Rabbah!


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66. 62. Conditional parenting AK     12/20/07 - 8:31 PM
Sherree Belsky

Teaching a child to be accountable and responsible is not "conditional" parenting. It is teaching children to live in the world of reality and not fantasy. It teaches children to be aware of their choices because every action they choose in life will either bring them a reward or a consequence. That is reality. You can not live in the real world without adhering to rules and if you make poor choices, they do come with consequences.

Now let me explain something to you. Consequences that are fair and appropriate to the action teaches a child that mistakes happen but it does not end your life. A consequence has a begining and an end. And when the consequence is over the incident is put to rest. An incident is just that, one incident it should not alter your life and you should not be reminded of it ever day of your life. That is why throwing children out of Yeshivas is an inappropriate consequence because it has no end and it is not equal to most offenses.

House rules should be in place as well as the consequence. In the event of an unusual occurence, we discuss it and even discuss the consequence. We listen to understand and we make sure that we let our children know that we "hear" them.

Children thrive when they know they have rules and guidelines, this is how they know they are loved and cared for. The appropriate consequence gives them an opportunity to learn from their mistake. As I said "an appropriate" consequence. Hitting is never an appropriate consequence, nor is any kind of verbal abuse. Letting them off without holding them accountable for their actions is not guiding them appropriately. When the consequence is over you can tell them how much you respect them for handling the consequence maturely and appropriately.

"Conditional Parenting" means witholding "love" when we are dissapointed with our children.


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67. #65 Chana re: Stealing     12/20/07 - 9:13 PM
Sherree Belsky

You have stated things quite clearly and appropriately. I know Devorah personally and she is an excellent Social Worker and Coach. Your son is very young and is obviously suffering, it might be an illness such as kleptomania or he is just choosing to see what he can get away with.

As a 20 year old young adult who has been in and out of the household and is very respectful of his parents BT might be able to have a conversation with her son asking him how he feels about his situation and work with him from that perspective. Our Coaching instructor wrote a book "Parent as Coach" by Diana Hastings. It is available on Amazon.com and it will help her approach this type of conversation by learning how to coach her son.

I also insist that every one of my clients read "Choice Theory" by Dr. William Glasser which is very helpful in clarifying and delineating that fine line just as you said. The only person you can control is yourself, the only person you can change is yourself. By reading these two books it is possible for BT to gain some coaching tools to communicate with her son and help him make appropriate choices for himself. I don't think that she can help him to stop stealing, but I do think that she can help him to realize that he is loved and he has a support system. Knowing that, he can choose to reach out to that support system and get the appropriate assistance that he needs, whether that is seeing a pshychiatrist for evaluation, or medication for ADHD to control impulses or whatever therapy he needs to uncover what is motivating him to do what he does.

You have learned that each one of us are responsible and accountable for our own actions. Your son is accountable for what he is doing and you can not control him. However you have learned to be very realistic about the result of his actions. If he gets caught he can face charges and he can be placed in detention. I don't know if he is aware of this but he should be made aware of this.

Have you and your husband decided what you will do if he is caught and arrested? Will you run immediately to bail him out or will you allow him to sit it out? Have you spoken to your attorney to find out what you are responsible for as parents and what you should do if he is caught? It is advisable to have a plan beforehand and not to panic in the face of reality.

It is important that you and your husband be on the same page with this. If you decide with the advice of your attorney and therapist to let him sit it out, you should let him know that you love him very much and therefore you will allow him to suffer the consequences of his own actions if he gets caught. Surprises are not always "fun".

Hatzlocha, Sherree


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68. Sheree:     12/20/07 - 10:01 PM
M

So first you said that only someone who has been through it, can help, then you acknowledged that there are exceptions. You described them in depth. Do you know R' Horowitz and R' Twerski personally?

Rabbi Horowitz and Rabbi Twerski have been working with children and parents for years. They have done something that other Rebbeim and therapists have not yet accomplished and that is to "listen to understand".

I'm wondering how you know how they listen - by their comments/articles on this blog? And I wonder how you can dismiss other Rebbeim and therapists without knowing them.

[disclaimer - It could very well be that the rabbis referred to are exactly as you describe them. My comments do not reflect skepticism about them but skepticism about your statements]

So although your post comes from an aspect of another "judgmental Jew"

Hmmm. Yet another example of someone calling someone judgmental while being judgemental themselves :) You judged and criticized Yoni and didn't apologize either. I'd appreciate it if we could address the topic under discussion without personal remarks.

Hashem tests anyone he chooses to test.

Do I understand you correctly that you see having a child-at-risk as similar to having a child born or stricken, lo aleinu, with an illness, i.e. An Act of G-d?

I agree with you about parents and school though I didn't know who you were responding to.

As for pride, let me ask you. When are you proud about something about yourself? (and of course I don't mean arrogant) Are you proud when you've accomplished something, whether tangible like getting ready for Shabbos on time, or intangible like keeping quiet when you wanted to say something? Or are you proud of your potential to accomplish something?

One more thing. I don't have to know the writer to know it is not about her and her son is not doing it to hurt her. If he was trying to hurt her his behavior would show it.

I think plenty more has to be known about the writer and the son before declaring what his intentions are or aren't. In fact, I don't think the question posed to R' Horowitz (at the top of this page) can be answered, as it's presented.


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69. To Chana     12/20/07 - 10:27 PM
tb

Chana, I just wanted to say that I was very moved by your words here. I wish you much Hatzlacha. There is something so clear-minded about the way you write about your challenges, lessons learned, even your pain. I hope others may learn from you. I hope you get a "happy ending" of sorts. I have close relatives who are facing similar challenges with their eldest son in Yerushalayim. I can't begin to understand the whole Israeli/American Chareidi cultural challenges that many kids are facing there. I wish someone would do something about it. We are losing our kids (and I say it collectively because we are all responsible for each other).


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70.     12/20/07 - 10:50 PM
Anonymous

M,

Is there a reason that you are personalizing this so much with Sherree? As a close relative of teenagers going through similar issues discussed here, I am grateful for her insight and clarity of thought, and it has helped me already. What might be the reason for your taking apart everything she is saying in that way? I'm not sure why such a helpful thread needs to be personalized that way- the tone is way off.

I don't think Sherree needs to apologize to Yoni in exactly the way that you authorize- you made a comment, Sherree addressed Yoni very appropriately, and the tone of your comments way exceeding Sherree's short paragraph taking Yoni to task, which she later addressed.

Please, let us all learn from eachother, from people like R' Horowitz, B. Twersky, and Sherree. We'll have much to gain.


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71. consequences     12/21/07 - 12:48 AM
Chana

First of all, for anyone interested, the book Parent as Coach is by Diana Haskins (not Hastings as posted erroneously). Secondly, regarding consequences, although I agree in theory with Sherree, I would have to add an important note:

Consequences are a necessary part of a child's growth when he is still young and his parent is taking the role of "captain of his ship". If the child makes the transition into teenhood without kicking the idea of consequences, all the better. However, from my experience, once the child starts to become a teenager, he may begin to see consequences as controlling. And, if that teen turns into an at-risk teen, you are going to have to tread very carefully. My son has the additional problem that he doesn't value just about anything. Sometimes, when he is very upset, I wonder if he values his own life. It is almost impossible to set a consequence that will bother him enough to be a deterrent. He also has a flair for wiggling his way out of problems -- disappearing is one way -- so even if we do manage to set a consequence that means something, chances are we won't be able to enforce it. It all comes back to our mantra of "If it isn't going to build your relationship with your at-risk teen, don't do/say it." (And I would be so bold as to say it even applies to your not-at-risk teen in many cases.) The alternative anyways will probably not give you the result you seek and almost definitely will cause you agmas nefesh, frustration, and pain and your child to be even more frustrated than you are which will lead him to become more rebellious, disconnect, and be angry with you. So you will have gained nothing at the expense of putting another brick up in the wall between you and your teen. This is the most destructive thing you could possibly do.

Sherree, yes we have discussed what we would do if our son was incarcerated. The social services system here (and I get my knowledge from a very close friend whom I have been watching go through her own tunnel with her teens) is to a large extent corrupt. I do not say that they are completely unhelpful, but in many ways, and especially when it comes to kids, they social services are above the law. This means that if they decide that the parents should not have the privilege of raising their own child, they can fabricate stories, walk right into court, get a court order, and the parents don't have a squeaking chance of being able to fight it. It is extremely rare that a court makes a rule against the social system. This is very scary for parents like myself who are trying their very best but know that at some point their child might get involved with social services and get taken away to foster care. In the chareidi system, there is a safety net of organizations to keep these kids out of the hands of the social services at all costs. This has its own risks. What I am trying to say is that inasmuch as my husband and I have decided not to bail him out immediately were my son to be arrested, we also know that if and when the time comes that we have to make such a decision, a lot will depend on the reactions of the people on the case from the police/social services. We have done what we could to pre-prepare the situation. We have contacts in the social services department who know us well and we have a policeman who also is a good friend. However, there is no way to know if this protektzia will allow us to allow our son's arrest (chas veshalom) to teach him the lesson we want him to learn until the time comes and we see who we are dealing with.

To paraphrase AK's previous post, when the village is messing up the gears, it makes it difficult to raise the child even with the best of intentions. We can only raise our eyes to HKB"H and beg his mercy for the sake of our deeply unhappy children.


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72. THANK YOU     12/21/07 - 12:54 AM
BT

Thank you for responding, Chana and Sheree. It is true that many times we feel that no one can give an answer to how to help our son get on track. His stealing and lying have become so comfortable for him that he rationalizes it away. Through all the therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, MSW's, MD's etc.... ( not to forget Rebbeim, teachers, youth counselors, family members)...he seems so lost, and yet so loved. Every teacher that failed him , loved him. His personality is so engaging. His heart is so giving to friends and strangers, that it is hard to believe all the things he has done and gone through in his short life. My husband and I are on the same page, however right now the page seems empty. There are no more people to see, that we can bring him to. When I have checked to see if he attended meetings with the last counselor, I was told that I shouldn't really be involved in this (in a pleasant way(, but that my adult son should be making his own appts.and be responsible for his own actions. So we backed off on this, and daven that he will want to turn himself around. We are always here for him, supporting him, and being here for him when he wants it, and even when he doesn't. Hashem has given us and our son so many nisayonos that we hope they will soon allow him to learn from them, and to grow from them. We remind ourselves that "Hazorim b'dimah , B'Rina Yiksoru" Those who sow with tears, with happiness will reap. B'siyata D' Shmaya, we daven and keep looking for whatever can help him . Again, thank you for responding and for your encouraging words, and resources.


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73. to tb     12/21/07 - 1:22 AM
Chana

I thank you for your brachah and answer a resounding Amen! Although I don't have a lot of time that I can spend on the phone, if your relatives are interested, I would be happy to share experiences with them. As someone posted previously, often we can learn more from someone else going through a similar nisayon than we can from anyone else. I am actually trying to set up a small self-help group with an experienced, professional moderator for parents with at-risk teens who are seriously interested in making a commitment to being pro-active in whatever way they can to relieve their child's suffering. Besides the group participants learning from and giving support to each other, the moderator would teach skills that would allow the parents to help the teen help himself. If your relatives are interested, you can write me at chanah74@yahoo.com and I will send you my phone number.


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74. Regarding resources and counselors     12/21/07 - 2:16 AM
Chana

Just wanted to mention to anyone who may have gotten interested in investigating what Choice Theory has to offer, I would suggest starting with the book For Parents and Teenagers by William Glasser before all the others mentioned by Sherree. It is a sort of introduction to Choice Theory. First of all, it is a much shorter book. Secondly, it is easier reading. It is basically a book of examples on how Choice Theory was applied successfully in different situations along with a running commentary of the basic building blocks of Choice Theory used in the examples. It will give you a feeling for what Choice Theory is all about and how it works without getting bogged down with all the details, at the same time as it will give you some initial ideas of how to make Choice Theory work for you.

On another note, even with reading all the books and having the right intentions, there is nothing that can take the place of having a good counselor to support you. If I had read the Choice Theory books on my own, I probably would have been sold on the idea initially, but I know I would never have had the stamina to weather the storms of my son's ups and downs and stick to a new, unfamiliar way of chinuch at the same time without having the support and guidance of Mrs. Weiss. Every change is difficult and we tend to gravitate toward habit -- especially when our emotions are involved. Having an objective person out there who feels and cares so much that they will do everything in their power to help you keep on track and make your change permanent makes it expotentially easier and more realistic a goal. Our home was a different place within a week of implementing Mrs. Weiss' suggestions and the basic rules of Choice Theory. I wish everyone much nachas from every one of their wonderful kinderlach.


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75. re: # 68 and more about Choice Theory     12/21/07 - 6:13 AM
Chana

I am only going to reply to your questions that I think might be of assistance to a parent of another at-risk teen.

Do I understand you correctly that you see having a child-at-risk as similar to having a child born or stricken, lo aleinu, with an illness, i.e. An Act of G-d?

ABSOLUTELY! First of all, the basis of our emunah is that everything that happens to a Yid is "An Act of G-d"! And it is imperative that we believe that Hashem is a LOVING G-d -- not a vengeful G-d. Yes, things happen that cause us tza'ar and of course there is the whole issue of s'char v'onesh (reward & punishment) but we know that Hashem is a loving Father who only has our good in mind.

Taking into account the mind-boggling number of kids at risk out there today, it is impossible to place blame on individuals -- neither parents or children. Just as the Holocaust was a gezeirah on the klal and did not differenciate between tzaddikim and non-tzaddikim, this spiritual Holocaust is also a gezeirah on the klal and is not contained to only a specific "kind" of family or parents. These children belong to all of klal yisrael, and inasmuch as parents naturally feel more tza'ar for their own child, it is really a collective tza'ar and we all need to do the best we can to unite against this plague that has infiltrated our ranks. Of course, as a collective gezeirah, it is incumbent upon us to do a collective cheshbon hanefesh as a klal to see if there is something there that we need to change. I have discussed this above as have others.

Now, that said, regarding the child specifically, I have found it extremely helpful to regard my son davka as a handicapped child. And truth be told, he is -- emotionally handicapped. To put it in your words, he has been stricken with an illness: the exact formula of circumstances (character, talents, abilities, chug and time-period and place he was born in, schools he went to, teachers he had, parents he was given, placement in his family, influencial peers who had contact with him, etc., etc.) that brought him to where he is today. None of those elements alone would have made him at-risk. And it was HKB"H who mixed the formula. That is not to say that my son didn't have choices to make along the way. Only that for whatever reason HKB"H saw best to test him (and us) with these nisyonos. The only answer we can give to the big "Why?" question is that whatever the reason was, we can be sure it is for his own as well as our own good.

As for pride, let me ask you. When are you proud about something about yourself? (and of course I don't mean arrogant) Are you proud when you've accomplished something, whether tangible like getting ready for Shabbos on time, or intangible like keeping quiet when you wanted to say something? Or are you proud of your potential to accomplish something?

You are mixing up the good feeling a person has due to something he has worked for and accomplished with the loving feeling we have toward someone who is a part of us -- regardless of what they do. Yes, I am completely and absolutely proud of my son. To say otherwise would be like saying I don't like my right arm. I can walk next to him in the street and be proud that he is a part of me and my family. I may not always be proud of everything he does. But I am proud of his derech eretz, his good nature, his sensitivity and his talents. Every Yiddishe child has some character we can be proud of. I choose to see my child's positive accomplishments and truly feel tza'ar for the tza'ar he goes through due to the other things he does. I don't love him any less -- if anything I love him more!

From our experience, if parents would choose to let go, to stop being critical, to stop trying to control their at-risk teen, they would find that all of a sudden their teen is not manipulating them any more. The general mood in the house is no longer changing according to his/her tune. And most of all, they will be more open and able to show their underlying love for their child. This will happen automatically because then they choose to see his strengths and aren't fixated on catching him before he stumbles (which really translates into watching and waiting for him to make the next mistake).

I know that some of you know exactly what I am talking about and what I am saying sounds almost like an impossible dream. Believe me, I've been there. My son didn't make any conscious changes -- we didn't even talk to him about it -- it was my husband and I who chose to change. You can do it, too!

The difference in our home was so stark within the short period of a few days that even my other children noticed and were willing to follow our lead. All of a sudden their older brother wasn't driving them crazy and he was even pleasant to be around! I also had more patience and time as I was less involved with trying to follow my son's every move "so as to save him from himself".

No one can guarantee that the turnaround will happen this fast with everyone; sometimes there are other issues that have to be dealt with as well. However, if you make this first change in your perspective as parents, you can be sure that you will definitely see at least an improvement in a very short period of time.

The wonderful thing about Choice Theory is that there is nothing that it advocates that can possibly do harm. The worst that can happen is that you don't see the extent of change you are looking for. If you relate to some of the things I wrote above, do yourself and your child a favor and pick up a copy of one of the reference books mentioned in this thread. Or, find a counselor who follows the basic tennets of Choice Theory. I recommended our counselor above and I'll give her contact info again at the end of this post. We have the ability to control just one aspect of the formula that surrounds our at-risk teen. That aspect is ourselves. Just as in any recipe if you change one ingredient you can make an entirely new dish, the steps you take to change yourself could form the new recipe that brings your child to the path to happiness. Chizku v'amtzu!

Mrs. Devorah Weiss' contact info again: devorah.weiss@yahoo.com


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76. correction to previous post     12/21/07 - 6:15 AM
Chana

Sorry, only the first paragraph of the long excerpt above was a quote. The rest should have appeared in blue.


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77. Dr. Sorotzkin disagrees     12/21/07 - 10:16 AM
Anonymous

Taking into account the mind-boggling number of kids at risk out there today, it is impossible to place blame on individuals -- neither parents or children.

Dr. Sorotzkin, whose articles have been posted by Rabbi Horowitz on this blog, disagrees. Here's a link where he explains why he disagrees, at length:

http://www.drsorotzkin.com/role_of_parents.html


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78. Dear Anonymous     12/21/07 - 10:55 AM
M

Yoni was accused of using this forum to have "a halachic boxing match"; he was accused of diverting attention to his expertise; he was accused of being "terribly insensitive." I don't know Yoni and I have had my differences with him on this blog, but I rose to his defense against these baseless and mean denunciations of him. How about supporting Yoni? Perhaps you should ask Sherree about personalizing, since she set that tone here.

As for "taking apart" - She has made some strong statements. If she can back them up, wonderful. I find her tone off-putting but have responded to her statements that I think need to be supported, rather than stated categorically as Truth.


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79.     12/21/07 - 12:33 PM
Anonymous

Well, M,

I think you ARE personalizing this way too much, and am having a hard time even seeing your message for the unpleasant tone. But perhaps others don't think as I do, and I will try to gain as much as I can out of people who I see offering help here, without letting your posts take away from that.

Shabbat Shalom


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80. In Response to "M"     12/21/07 - 5:00 PM
Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids Count Foundation

Dear M # 68,

Firstly I think Chana did an excellent job of answering you as well as anonymous. But I will still try to answer your "attack". If you are not in the Parsha you can't possibly understand why Yoni was being insensitive by diverting the topic.

Secondly "YES" I know both Rabbi Dr. Twerski & Rabbi Horowitz personally, so I know of their work and their experience, and I have knowledge and experience with many other Rebbeim and Counselors who have done much damage to parents and children in the parsha.

As far as equating a child-at-risk to a child with any other affliction, again if you are not in the parsha and your heart is not torn apart by this particular "affliction" and you don't watch your child transform from someone you know like the back of your hand to someone who is almost unrecognizable to you, from someone who used to hug you and respect you to someone who sometimes screams profanities at you, who you used to see sleeping soundly in their beds before you went to sleep to not knowing if they are alive or dead when you try to fall asleep at night, you have no right to ask such a question. I will say even to you, that it is insensitive of you. Anyone who is not "in" the parsha or involved with the parsha is just not knowledgeable enough to understand the senisitivity of the issue. So your arguments and attack seems too tough and overbearing and it comes from a point of unintentional ignorance.

As far as the writer is concerned when you have enough experience with the parsha you learn to read and understand. The writer actually gave a lot of information.

In regard to "pride". As coach we choose not to use the word "proud" because it does not project on the accomplishments of our children it reflects on our own needs and satisfaction. We replace it with words like "respect, admire and appreciate". We respect, admire and appreciate each one of our children for each and every one of their accomplishments according to their own abilities and their own potential at any given time. It is not a matter of them pleasing us or dissapointing us. It is a matter of builiding self-esteem and self-confidence in our children. We can't judge them according to our own standards. We do the best we can to teach them and guide them. What make a concious effort to be the best role models we can be. And even if they stray we should understand that we planted a good foundation. It is still there and no matter how much they try to run away from it, no matter how much they try to shed it by taking off their "livush" or their tefillin, or their tznius clothing, it is still there underneath their skin and in their hearts and souls. Eventually it will surface again because it will never leave them, it is the foundation that you planted within them. If you continue to be the best role model you can be, you will continue to add to that foundation.

I want to thank Chana for correcting me on the author of "Parent-as-Coach". Diana now goes by her married name Sterling, so I get confused at times. I also want to mention that Devorah has a on-line support group for parents called Chizuk and Coaching.

I also would like to clarify something to Chana. I wasn't suggesting that you start giving your son consequences at this stage. I said that children should be raised with that concept and that he should be aware that that he is responsible and accountable for his actions. Whatever his choices are they will either bring him a reward or consequence. That is a natural occurence. That doesn't mean that "YOU" will give him the consequence, it means that it will happen according to his choices. In other words if he chooses to jump down a flight of stairs chas v'sholom it is most likely he will wind up with a broken leg. A poor choice that will end up with the consequence of a broken leg. That is the nature of things, and that is life. Life is governed by rules, rules of nature, rules of government, work, school, home, etc.

Chana you are an amazing student of an excellent coach and I believe you are and will be an amazing source of chizuk to others in this parsha.

Regards from Sunny Florida, Yes I even do this on vacation!

Gut Shabbos, Sherree Belsky


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81. in response to #77 and Dr. Sorotzkin's essay     12/22/07 - 7:22 PM
Anonymous

Anonymous, I wish to thank you for alerting me to Dr. Sorotzkin's paper. I read through it and must say that I agree with most of what he says. He is basically advocating Choice Theory parenting. To be more correct, I really should have written in my previous post: "Taking into account the mind-boggling number of kids at risk out there today, it is impossible to place blame entirely on individuals -- neither parents or children.

I think it can be understood from the previous posts I have made here that I feel that parents play a major role in their at-risk teen's present and future.

I do have to say that I disagree with Dr. Sorotzkin in that I don't think most parents of at-risk teens are abusive -- intentionally or unintentionally. This seemed to be an underlying theme in his article. I do agree that had the parents reacted differently to their child during their growing up, the child might not have become at-risk. However, I will repeat what I wrote above that what put the child at risk was an entire formula of circumstances. The parent-child relationship being only one of the ingredients in that formula.

And, since changing any one of the ingredients will change the outcome, I definitely agree with Dr. Sorotzkin that if the parents had reacted differently throughout the child's parenting, the outcome would have been different -- and we would hope better. But I would also venture to say just as certainly that if another factor in the formula had been different, it also could have drastically changed the outcome.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Dr. Sorotzkin is speaking from hindsight. I would like to think that the overwhelming majority of parents are not intentionally abusive of their children. In fact, that they only had the very best of intentions. Even Dr. Sorotzkin brings the following quote (in regard to emotional problems in adults):

...typically the destructive parenting experiences have derived from [the] unconscious defenses of the parent. The parents had no conscious knowledge or control of these defenses, and in most cases are very decent people who would never consciously hurt their child. Often they will go to great lengths to help their child...

The way that a parent reacted to the child when he was younger may have been the most logical way to respond. Most parents -- especially when inexperienced with the subject of at-risk teens -- don't think ahead to how their dealings with their child will translate when he/she becomes an adolescent. The parents usually just follow the rules of logic or the parenting that they grew up with or what they read in a parenting book.

According to Dr. Sorotzkin's assertions that parents are the real cause of this problem and the great increase in the numbers of at-risk teens today, one would have to say that the quality of parenting today is significantly worse than that of previous generations. Can we really say that? I don't have enough contact with enough people to say for sure, but it doesn't sound right to me.

My personal opinion is that parents today are actually much more educated educators than in previous generations. We have unlimited access to parenting books that are written in our own language by mechanchim galore. Many people additionally have a rav that they speak to on chinuch issues. In my opinion, one of the missing links is the clash between our culture (chareidi) and our parenting knowledge.

Chareidi culture (at least in Eretz Yisrael) is for the most part unbending. So, when we have a child who, for example, wants to play ball during recess when he is in 4th grade, but the school forbids balls, what are we as parents supposed to say? On the one hand, we are being told -- let the child be a child -- which we know is what the child needs, but on the other hand, the child is getting punished at school for bringing a ball. Okay, so the child has to listen to the school rules, but we can make allowances to allow him to play at home. Now, you take this 8-year-old who is having a hard enough time sitting through his long school day (8-6:30), and tell him that he cannot have any other outlet to let off energy during breaks other than to run around a tiny, fenced-in schoolyard packed with another few hundred kids or stand around the hallways talking to friends. Is it any wonder that he gets into trouble by finding more "exciting" things to do. Is the fact that his parents give him their full support going to change the fact that he is making himself a name as a troublemaker?

Dr. Sorotzkin says in regard to kids with learning disabilities or other handicaps:

...when Rav Dessler speaks of Eisav having a more difficult temperament, he also makes it clear that less was expected of him as a result (at least initially)

Can anyone say that this is the rule of thumb in our schools? Since our boys spend at least two thirds of their waking hours at school from the age of 8 or so, is it true that if the parenting changes it would mostly cure the problem? Inasmuch as a loving and accepting home environment should form the close bond between the child and the parents described by some of the parents of at-risk kids in this thread, that will only guarantee that the child will always know that he can come back home. It does not guarantee that the child's need to be accepted by his peers will not pull him to at-risk behavior and possibly going OTD.

Even Dr. Sorotzkin admits this (I added the emphasis):

Rather, it is only after a buildup of feelings of hurt, resentment, anger, rejection and alienation from family and community that they feel that they have nothing to lose by dropping out.

Okay, let's say your 8-year-old has done something wrong -- maybe he hit a sibling or stole money from his parent's wallet. We have learned in all our parenting books that there have to be consequences. But then we are also told that our children need to be dealt with with "unconditional love". Well, now we're in a bind! Are we supposed to ignore the child's infraction? Or maybe follow this piece of advice I once heard from a well-known mechanech: you tell the child "okay, you did XYZ. For that I am going to give you 3 slaps [obviously, not abusive ones]." Then, the father takes the child's hand and gives him 2 slaps and counts: "One, two." And then, as he lifts his hand to give the child the third slap, he drops his hand and instead embraces the child and says: "I am not going to give you the third slap because I want you to know that I love you." Is that unconditional love?

This, in my opinion is the second missing link between chinuch theory as we are taught and parenting in its l'ma'aseh form. The point I am trying to make here is that I don't think today's parents are worse than in previous generations. I DO think that today's parents are less prepared to deal with today's kids. We cannot just follow in our parents' footsteps vis a vis how to raise our children. It doesn't work in the long term. We grew up in a society where, even by the goyim, a parent's word was law. Our kids are growing up in a society where a child has the right to question his parents' decisions. The rules have changed. For the most part, most parents aren't aware that they need new rules, and therefore they don't have the parenting tools to deal with TODAY's kids. Most current, frum parenting books have not been given the overhall and complete update necessary for parents to properly deal with the outside-factors our kids are dealing with that their counterparts in previous generations didn't deal with.

It is interesting to note, that almost every article or book on chinuch written by a contemporary Rov, mechanech or frum clinician emphasizes the importance of a positive and warm parent - child relationship, acceptance of a child's individuality, and a reduction of excessive pressure and criticism, as the surest means of avoiding rebellious children. Yet, when children do rebel, we hesitate to draw the logical conclusion that the parents probably did not follow this advice.

Because I think they DID try their very hardest to follow this advice, but the chinuch books that I have read do not advise the parents on what to do when they hit a bump in the road. So the parent is left with a great idea, but not much information on how to implement it when there are problems.

Which brings me back to the question I posed above. One of the basic changes that has been made in chinuch is that we are now taught that hitting kids is wrong. (Although, in some educational mosdos in Eretz Yisrael, hitting is still an acceptible form of punishment - even for teens!) Instead, we are told that LOVE is the foundation to raising our children. And not just any love -- unconditional love! So, what does that mean? The dictionary definition is: "showing love towards someone regardless of his or her actions or beliefs". For the secular society, this means that kids should be allowed to do virtually anything they want without their parents interfering. I doubt that's what our mechanchim mean, though, when they use the term! I don't know about the other parents, but I was quite confused about the meaning of this term until I was introduced to Choice Theory. I never understood how "unconditional love" got translated when we had to react to a child's improper behavior.

Here is Dr. Sorotzkin's answer:

I suggest to the parents that, when it reaches a point where children rebel against the family and its way of life, then they need to show their children that they are more concerned with their feelings than with their behavior. If they can do this, there is a good chance that they can turn the situation around.

AHA! And here is the real meaning of unconditional love -- and one of the basic foundations of Choice Theory. I don't know if this will "turn the situation around" if you wait until the child "rebels against the family and its way of life", but it will definitely make the child feel that he has who to turn to in his parents and home environment. However, if these tools are applied from the very beginning of parenting, you have a good chance that your children will bypass the rebellious stage.

And then there is the other issue that our parents didn't have to deal with: the high standards of today's chareidi society -- again, I am speaking of what goes on here in Eretz Yisrael. Dr. Sorotzkin writes:

Rav Yitzchok Hutner emphasizes the crucial importance of maintaining a sense of satisfaction from everyday, average religious activities even in the face of rising standards and expectations.

Can we truly say that our society allows this leeway? Are our children really getting the message that even if they decide not to spend the rest of their lives in a kollel or a yeshiva they can still be good, upstanding Yidden who won't be considered second-class citizens? When I mentioned this belief to a good friend recently, I was told "You're too American!" We have a very good friend who, after 15 years in kollel, felt that he wasn't getting enough satisfaction from his personal learning and wanted to start teaching. He inquired into what it would take for him to become a cheder rebbe. After getting all his information, he sat down with his wife to discuss the issue. Her initial and final reaction was: "What do you mean "you're thinking of leaving kollel"!? I'm happy to live with less, but you can't give up full-time learning." Granted, that is an extreme reaction even among chareidi people for someone who wants to go into chinuch, but it is a sign of the times. Bais Yaakov girls are taught that nothing is more important than their husband's learning, but are all girls made out to be the wife of the rosh yeshivah? Can all girls handle raising their children single-handedly while running a home AND bringing in the parnassah? One thing our chumrah-keeping society of Yidden has done is to pull the emphasis away from Bein Odom L'chaveiro and put it on Bein Odom laMakom. Like someone once said to me: "Most of us today probably wouldn't have eaten in Moshe Rabbeinu's house -- his standard's of kashrus wouldn't have been up to ours!"

The assumption that parents succeeded with their other children is often based in superficial criteria, for example, the fact that the other children didn't rebel against yidishkeit. Often however, the other children have also been hurt, but in less obvious ways. Perhaps the other children lack self-confidence or suffer from low self-esteem. Sometimes some of the other children are quite depressed, but not to the point that it is obvious to other people.

I think that this is one of the main places I disagree with Dr. Sorotzkin. In my humble opinion, this statement smacks of the psychology that was in vogue when I was growing up and has become a part of the basic belief of most clinical psychologists. That is: "Just about every person alive today was abused as a child. Some people can recall the abuse and others hide it in their subconscious. It is those who hide it who are worse off." In essence, this translates into: "If you think you need a psychologist, you probably do. If you think you don't need a psychologist, you DEFINITELY do!" The definition of a "normal" childhood today according to the professionals is a "perfect" childhood -- no parental mistakes allowed! That's not how we grew up, and each of us could probably write a long list of our parents' chinuch blunders, but the number of at-risk teens was significantly less a generation ago! Additionally, some of the commentaries say that the reason the firstborn child is alloted a double portion by the Torah is because he suffered the most from his parents' trial and error as they gained experience in parenting. So even the Torah allows parents to make mistakes, though it still expects the children to stay within its boundaries.

[Regarding calling at-risk teens a "gezeira", Rav Mattisyahu Solomon] explained that he did not mean that this tragedy strikes at random, without rhyme or reason. Rather, he meant that the conditions that bring about this problem - and he emphasized the quality of the parent-child relationship as a major factor - are the result of the geziera of golus.

i.e., ALL the "golus" factors and situations that teens and parents find themselves facing contribute to the creation of the problem. I definitely agree.

And then, toward the very end of his article, Dr. Sorotzkin finally admits that our children's educational environment is equally a "major factor" in the kids-at-risk problem:

While I emphasize the role of the parents in the child's overall emotional health, it should go without saying that mechanchim play a major role in shaping a child's attitudes to school in general and to yidishkeit in particular. To many teens - especially those who either have parents who are less frum, or who are not so close to their children - mechanchim can be parent substitutes and they often represent the essence of yidishkeit to their students. When mechanchim are insensitive to their student's emotional needs it can undermine or even corrupt their emotional relationship to yidishkeit. Unfortunately, many adults still carry the scars of insensitive and even cruel treatment by mechanchim. This creates a negative association to yidishkeit - with many negative repercussions even if it doesn't result in going off the derech. Most of the observations and suggestions made here for parents are equally applicable to mechanchim and mechanchos.

Almost every single parent of a teen-at-risk that I have spoken to has a plethora of stories of the times that their child's teachers/schools failed him/her.

In summary, although I agree that parenting makes a big difference in the child's outcome, in my humble opinion, there are other major factors that also make a big difference. It is not any ONE factor that creates a teen-at-risk. It is the overall combination of factors -- which is a formula that HKB"H creates. As parents, and ONE OF the main ingredients, we have the power to influence the outcome, but not necessarily to ensure the "and they all lived happily forever after" ending that we would want.

May we all be zocheh to see the nachas we wish from every one of our beautiful kinderlach.


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82. Oops!     12/22/07 - 7:24 PM
Chana

Sorry, I forgot to fill in my name. I didn't mean to write the previous post anonymously.


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83.     12/22/07 - 7:42 PM
yoni

Mrs. Belsky, with all due respect, I think you are missing something. Not just one thing but alot of things.

I've lost friends to being at risk. For highschool I went to the first at risk yeshiva in the world. Origionaly it had been the first baal teshuva highschool yeshiva in the world (which it still is) but quickly as it gained steam it also became the first one for at riskers as well. Of the students in the yeshiva perhaps 5 or 6 were genuine baalei teshuva of a young age. I was in the middle, frum from birth but dangerously behind in my chinnuch because of bad circumstances in my family preventing me from going to cheder, and then the rest of the 40 students or so were genuinely "at risk". Many were local, others came from all over. They smoked, smuggled in radios and things far worse than this (including once, a couple of years before I got there, 2 girls) and did all kinds of stuff. Half the kids had LDs.

These, for two or thee years were my friends. Some of them are still my friends. Many of the behaviors they took part in I never shared with them, but I can tell you good and well what causes people to go off the derech, and those issues I brought up are one of many. I would tend to agree with our esteemed rabbi's thesis about LDs contibuting to it, but I would also tend to agree that it is also fostered by increasing stringencies. Torah clearly tells us "one who adds, subtracts". Granted in some cases gedarim are necessary, but as torah teaches us "tradition is a fence for the torah". Further our sages taught us that "it is forbiden to make a fence for a fence". These contribute rather mightily to the problem, as the range of outlets permitted them shrink ever smaller.

But another major issue is, quite frankly, the issue of the two faced hypocritical manner that our teachers show. They claim achdus is so important, and then turn and dispariage everyone from the modern orthodox to the reform and unaffiliated. they also humiliate youngsters looking to marry with rediculous and stupid questions of absolutely no value, even worse to people who do not properly know the person. They see opulent weddings when materialism is demeaned. They see girls encouranged to defy rules of tznius so that they can get married, and they conclude, in short, that the jewish community is a lie. This one claimed a girl who was very dear to me. They still tend to try and live, in their own way, with the ideas that were taught to them. That's why she joined the military after fleeing judaims to drugs, and then fleeing the drugs.

But do I understand the issue at hand? yes, intimately, probably better than you do, and what I brought up is every bit relevant to the issue at hand, there are others of course, and I would expect that it only accounts for a tiny porportion of those who go off the derech, but it does, on the other hand, account for some who are the best behaved, which might seem to be the case here, at least based on the information we were given. It also, unfortunately, seems to be declared the worst of the crimes at risk youth commit.

and yet so many wash their hands of the real causes and have the arrogance and gaul to declare that it is nothing more than a communal "gezera". Such people are directly responsible for the crises that they themselves have prohibitied with their arrogant violating the torah in the worst sense with their rediculous and arrogant additions in the name of "kedusha". Their additions and nothing but the worst and most vile of the sitra achera, and they are DESTROYING everything that I and so many others held dear about torah, and makes me really wish I had gone the way of my beloved, and the way of my brothers, and the way of so many others, because they are choking torah and judaism and killing it with their idiocies, and watching it die is the same as it felt watching my beloved harm herself with drugs, promiscuity, and driving herself away, and wondering every day indeed if she was alive or dead.


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84.     12/22/07 - 7:54 PM
yoni

"precipitated, not prohibited.


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85.     12/22/07 - 8:03 PM
yoni

and I suppose, to state it more clearly, is that if they want to fix this problem they need a serious din v'chashbon with themselves, and consider whats important, and how they are representing their stated values, and take part in undoing those things that are harming the society as a whole. Hopefully thier actions on behalf of yiddishkeit will help their child realize A that there is a disconnect between what people do and torah, and B that he will se that his perents care so deeply for torah that they are willing to fight for its sake, and perhaps it will induce him in to having second thoughts about things.

(oh, and the unconditional love thing is important as well, but I think that part of the problem is that we're putting our collective idols infront of our kids, instead of looking to torah for guidance, and loving them deeply.)


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86. To Continue Education the Olam....     12/22/07 - 8:54 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

Hats off to you Chana!! In continuation I wanted to go back to your answer to "M" and expand on it. For those peering through the windows and B"H are not in the Parsha let me educate you a little to be a little more sensitive in your questions and remarks:

There are no barometers that can measure one parents' pain to anothers. You can't possibly judge a parents', child's or siblings pain who is in the parsha to that of a corresponding family member of a child with another affliction. Pain is pain and loss is loss. A parent is a parent and when a child suffers parents suffer as well.

Look at your child. Now imagine if you can, that you will not see your child for the next 5,6 or even 10 years chas v'sholom. That you have been happily preparing for Yom Tov only to sit down at the table to be faced year after year with the reality of his/her empty and vacant chair. As you walk to shul alone you watch all your neighbors walk hand in hand, step in step with their children. As other parents kiss and shoo their children out of shul for Yizkor your heart is breaking not knowing whether or not to say Yizkor, Kel Moleh or even Kadish for your own child because you don't know if they are alive or dead.

Imagine considering yourselves the lucky ones when going to pay a shiva call to parents who lost their child to an overdose or suicide. Or visiting your child in the psyche ward because they failed at their suicide attempt or they fried their brain with drugs. Or again being the lucky ones visiting your child in rehab because they agreed to seek treatment or therapy. Or someone caring enough about your child to raise funds for them to get the drug rehab that they need.

Imagine now if you will, what it feels like when your child becomes Shomer Shabbos again. It is like a doctor telling you that their cancer is in remission. When you see your daughter shelving her minis in favor of her more tzniusdik clothing again, or watching your son gently and carefully putting his Tefillin on again for the first time. It is like a doctor telling you that your child can come home again, he is signing the discharge papers.

Do you understand now that pain is pain and loss is loss? Is there any possible way to compare the pain of a parent who has no clue where their child is or whether they are alive or dead? Do you know what its like to feel your heart in your throat when you wake up in middle of the night and go to check on your children and your child's bed is empty at 4:00am? Can you possibly imagine throwing your child out and watching the back of his head as he walks away from your door not knowing if you will ever see him again? Can you do that? Do you know the utter joy a parent in the parsha feels just to see their child walk through the door safe and sound? The same as any parent with a child afflicted by disease feels when their child walks through the door safe and sound.

The parents and children in this parsha did not ask for this nisayon anymore than any child with an illness or handicap did. It is a sensitive subject and must be approached respctfully and in a dignified mannner. If you "care to know" then keep that in mind when asking. If you are just curious, then that goes double for you. But please, please don't presume to judge or offer unsolicited advice because you have no idea how offensive and hurtful your words can be.

I have written many articles on the subject and have made many speeches as well. It is a very difficult concept to grasp when you are peering into a world that is totally foreign. Imagine having to live within it. At first parents naturally assume it is unbearable. It is a nightmare that they will never wake up from, something they can not recover from. They feel like they can't breathe, they want to get into bed and never crawl out. They are ashamed to be seen and even want to switch shuls feeling that everyone is staring at them and blaming them. Then they realize that Hashem is giving them the strength to handle it, to find the support they need and the support they need to give their children. They learn the tools to cope and move forward. They learn things that we are trying to teach right here such as "unconditional love", knowing that we can only control ourselves and not change others. That everyone is accountable and responsible for their own actions. That when you pull too hard on the apron strings your children pull harder, if you give them a little slack they will test the waters but still stay connected and eventually with Hashem's help come home. If you cut the strings they may be lost forever.

When we marry we have these wonderful dreams of having children, raising them and we literally have their paths laied out for them. Then they grow up and as they grow, they have their own dreams and choose their own paths. The more we try to pull them back into our dreams and the paths we laid out for them the more they pull away onto their own journeys. It is after all their life and they need to go on their own journeys according to Hahsem's plan for them just as we experienced the journeys that Hashem planned for us.

What we need to remember is this. "Vshivisi eschem l'negdi tamid". Always behave as if you stand before the King because I have placed you before me always and forever. If we raise our children both at home and in school on this premise. If we live our lives both as parents and mechanchim on this premise to behave and act as if we are always standing before the King melech hamelochim, we would conduct ourselves as the role models our children can emulate. We wouldn't have to fear which journeys our children were on because they would always understand that they too are standing before the King.

Hatzlocha to all those in the parsha, and those who are trying to understand it.

Sherree Belsky


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87. correction     12/22/07 - 9:25 PM
Chana

Sherree, I beg your pardon, but it is necessary to correct your quote. It's "Shivisi HASHEM l'negdi tamid".


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88. To Chana     12/22/07 - 10:05 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

And once again Chana you are correct, I should run my posts through you before I submit.


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89. To Sherree and Chanah     12/22/07 - 11:12 PM
Anonymous

Thank you, to both of you. Your words ring true, and resonate ever so clearly. There are too few who have the maturity and the understanding of the issues so sorely needed in today's world.

To Yoni, it is clear that you are in pain, which may obscure your understanding. I wish you all the best in your future, and a wonderful, blessed life in all ways.


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90. In Response Yoni     12/22/07 - 11:56 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

Yoni, I don't disagree with you. Obviously you are not aware of my articles, my speeches or my stance on the subject. When I begin working with a child that has been kicked out of school for speaking to the opposite sex I ask them to open their mouths to check if someone cut out their tongue.

I don't know how old you are, or when you got involved with your friend. I realize that it has been a painful experience for you. I agree with many of your points and don't understand why and where you got the idea that I was on the opposite side of the fence on these issues.

Where I don't agree with you is that it is OK to have boy/girl relationships till after high school and better yet when you are really mature enough and ready for marriage. During the teen years kids are just not mature enough to handle the delicacy and sensitivity of relatiionships especially the part of confidentiality and rejection.

Obviously I don't know you so I am not going to comment on you and your friend, but in general this is what I truly believe in. I do agree with you that Yeshivos do not address issues appropriately with our kids and their parents and in most cases their hypocricy is unashamedly blatant.

When working with teens I explain that it is normal to have an interest in the opposite sex. Their bodies are changing phisiologically, physically, emotionally, etc. Its chemical, its hormones. Hashem makes you that way. But he is preparing you slowly for the future, for when you are older and ready to get married. It is a slow process, a work in progress. Imagine if you felt like a child one day and the day you turn 18 you woke up and you looked different, you felt different and you thought differently. One day a child and the next a full blown adult.

Just like you learned and trained yourselves to control your urges about not eating milk after meat, about not turning on lights on Shabbos, or not riding in a car on Shabbos, etc. so must you restrain yourselves and teach yourselves to control these urges and impulses as well. As teenagers use your time to make good and lasting friendships with your classmates. Concentrate on your education, be a kid and leave the romance for when you are old enough and mature enough to respect and handle all the responsibilities that come along with it.

A true Jewish Marriage is designed and based on the ultimate and most intimate of connections between a husband and a wife. Because we hold very dear the uniqueness, personal, private, and beautiful special bond between each individual couple. Where the secular world changes partners like we change outfits, the Jewish marriage is a sacred one-on-one relationship. Why would anyone want to bring ghosts into that?

When we have this discussion and I explain it in those terms and answer their questions, we also speak about how they need to be respected. No one ever asked them this question before. After delving into this topic and an understanding of the above coupled with the concept of respect in any given relationdhip they usually choose to start backing away from those situations not because I told them that it is assur and they will go to gehenom, but because they had a better understanding of how they needed to be respected and what kind of relationship they wanted in the future.

It is very rare that that any of the girls I knew at 15 who swore up and down that their boyfriends were "the one" they would marry "for sure";that their boyfriends loved them so much; and they just had to sleep with this guy who was giving them all these gifts because he loved her and was going to marry her...ever wound up with that guy or married him. And B"H some are married.

As far as the boys are concerned. Ask any 22 or 23 year old boy who has B"H healed from his parsha and has put his life back in order what he would have done differently. He would tell every kid to stay away from drugs and cigarettes. He would also tell them to be careful of ruining a girl's reputation.

Kids are kids and as mature as they think they are they talk too much. Everyone just tells one person who is sworn to secrecy who just tells one other person who is sworn to secrecy until everyone knows the same well known secret. They find out very quickly what a small world they live in and how everyone knows everyone else.

You yourself are still pining over a lost love who has been forced to move on. Obviously you have been very effected by it and sound very hurt and bitter.

I honestly believe that children should be prepared for the changes that are happening to them. They should be aware that this will happen to them and how to handle the emotions and nuances that come along with the changes. Kids have questions and those questions should be answered. Parents and mechanchim should not be afraid to discuss this with kids and prepare them. Yelling at them that they will get kicked out of school for breaking this rule, kicking them out or telling them they will go to gehenim is really not working.

In addition if our schools would teach the beauty of tznius instead of chasing the girls down the hall with a ruler (just kidding), or changing rules every day, "wear longer skirts, these skirts are too long, your hair is too pretty, your eyes are too big, etc.", we would have more compliance out of understanding and willingness rather than fear. Teach Torah and Yiddishkeit from an aspect of love, from an aspect of mitzvos aseh not mitzvos lo taaseh. Of course everything has to be taught "the do's and the don'ts" but emphasize the "do's" the joy of Yiddishkeit. A Yid darf zein b'simcha.

So Yoni, if you learn one thing about me learn this. I am a student/child advocate. I will go and have gone head to head and toe to toe with anyone standing in the way of a child's success. I have called Rebbeim and schools and walked in straight to the principal's office. My articles have been criticized by some as being too controversial because I take Yeshivos and Mechanchim to task for their responsibility in our children's issues. "We are not equipped" is not an acceptable answer. I believe that every Yeshiva/school should have a staff/teacher/Rebbe handbook as well as a student handbbook. I believe that "Mutual Respect" is the basis for any relationship whether it is parent/child, Rebbe/student or employer/employee.

So although I can't agree with you on everything you said just for the sake of agreeing, I do agree with most of it and I do admire you for your obvious convictions.


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91. at-risk: the entire picture?     12/23/07 - 7:31 AM
Yardena - EY

To Chana and BT,

I really admire you both. You are so sincere, and come off as so intelligent and clear-minded. You also must have tremendous strength of character to persevere for so long in such a difficult situation. I can imagine few things as difficult to live with as stealing. I really wish you all the best.

Sherree, your paragraph that started off with "Do you understand that pain is pain..." brought tears to my eyes. It really drove home an essential point.

I'm going to look up the Choice method discussed here. It sounds promising.

I agree with Chana that we aren't necessarily parenting worse than previous generations. It's a popular claim, but is it true as a generalization? The people who talk about the "superparents" of yesteryear are generally from really amazing families (Twerski,Jungreis, etc.) and likely associated with other really beautiful families, so that is what they knew. Healthy people are usually not attracted to relationships with unhealthy people. They may have seen unhealthy families, but those families wouldn't form their main impression of the "yesteryear Yidden" because that wasn't their primary experience.

However, people who come from families in which everyone in yesteryear went happily flying off the derech hear a different story--though NOT always. Also, if you read writings from the Jews of yesteryear, you hear about quite a lot of bad parenting. The now over-romanticized "simple Jew" was (and still is) often a poor parent, though not ALWAYS, and certainly not all of them! However, there are many sad examples. One is Chaim's story in The Cantonists, a truly heartbreaking glimpse of heartlessly faulty parenting done by Jews of "pure and simple faith".

Regarding at-risk kids and possible reasons: I've read interviews with people who work with at-risk kids, and although there are many different kinds from many different kinds of families, the one thing found in common was that the kids were from homes with poor shalom bayis. Does everyone find this true?

PLEASE don't take this as mud-slinging or an accusation! One could even argue that an at-risk child can be the CAUSE of shalom bayis problems as the parents struggle, possibly in different directions, to deal with the crisis.

Examining parenting techniques is vitally important, however, no one can ever be perfect and it's hard to believe that Hashem set up a system in which He made intrinsically imperfect beings have to be perfect in order to achieve success, an obvious impossibility. Obviously, parents should be able to make chinuch mistakes, even big ones, and still have their kids turn out well. There has never been a parent who DIDN'T make at least one major mistake.

This issue is personal with me because due to in-law interference combined the extremely low emotional intelligence of my husband's highly regarded rosh yeshivah and other esteemed rabbonim, we had a lot of tension in our early years, and our oldest bore the brunt of it, because his formative years were during that hard time. Dr. Sorotzkin mentioned that many oldest children go off the derech and the rest of the children are fine.

I can't help but wonder how much the shalom bayis factor affects the whole thing. My oldest is my most challenging child, and I see this in my friends' families,too. I also see that their oldest was born into a tense home, but as time went by and they learned to deal with each other, the following children are born into a harmonious home. Dr. Sorotzkin gave other reasons, which I think are valid, but I can't help wondering about this, too.

I am not trying to blame Chana or BT or others in their situation. I can blame myself, too. If my oldest does eventually go OTD, people will ask what we did wrong in the home, and I'll have to say, "Well, the shalom bayis was off during his formative years, but I was 20, BT without any support, and everyone was against me and pounding me down all the time, I really tried to be as calm and mature as I could, but it's hard to be wonderful when so many people are tearing you apart, and anyway, I had no clue what I was doing because I'd never been married before." I was a patient, loving, idealistic mother, but my marriage wasn't.

Let me repeat: I am NOT trying to fling blame or accusations, but I'd like a look at the WHOLE picture by people who've worked with families of OTD kids, and those in that parsha. Although the schools can be harsh, a harmonious Jewish home is such a beautiful and powerful influence, I would think it could be able to overcome the schools.

In SOME situations, I think the strong focus on parenting techniques is to avoid the shalom bayis issue. Therapists and rabbonim\rebbetzins can certainly tiptoe around this issue, not just the couple itself. As painful as it is to discuss the wrongdoings of one's child, people seem even more reluctant to admit their marital problems. It's embarrassing for adults to admit that they argue over petty things, or nitpick or yell or verbally abuse (or are the victim of a spouse who yells, etc.) or worse.

My experience in the frum community is that it is very sympathetic and understanding of tired, frustrated, overwhelmed mothers, but it is totally intolerant of tired, frustrated, overwhelmed wives. I imagine the same is true for men, on the flip side.

This is funny because a frustrating child often cannot control its frustrating behaviour (not before a certain age, anyway) but a frustrating spouse certainly could, making it even more frustrating!

I think if we're going to hold parents and schools accountable for this problem, we must include rabbonim and rebbetzins. I know an entire BT family that went off the derech, and it wasn't from just one reason, but one of the reasons was their rabbonim, one of whom is considered a wonderful rav for BTs, and has a lot of experience with BTs. This has been touched on already in some of the previous contributions here, but IMHO, it should be explored just as much parenting techinques, shalom bayis, school, and organic problems such as LD and ADD. Because rabbonim and rebbetzins are considered Religious Authority, they have an extra ability to totally destroy people that your average Yid, and even your therapist or parent, doesn't have.

Of course, I do not refer to rabbonim such as Rabbi Twerski, Rabbi Horowitz and others of their ilk who are the real thing, and may there be many more like them b'Yisrael, b'ezras Hashem.

I just want to end by saying that I am getting a lot of good advice from this discussion, and thank you to everyone.


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92. to Yoni     12/23/07 - 8:17 AM
tb

Yoni, thank you for writing about some of your journey. I always knew that people had a lot to learn from you here. What is interesting is that already someone responds that you are "in pain" and wishes you well. I know that is heartfelt, but what I find in Chareidi society and what I found in my high school years 20 years ago and my current life is that whenever a person who speaks about the ugly in this world speaks out passionately, it scares people. They think that that person is exaggerating due to their "pain" and overwhelmed by pain so much so that others can only hope the best for them and wish them well. Occasionally, they are even labeled "bitter" as I have been at times. And the reality is--and they will probably never admit it--that people like you who speak with such passion of the things going wrong in Chareidi society/frum society are not speaking from cloudy, subjective, personal pain. No. That is just the jumping off point. People like you are speaking truth. Period. The pain is actually more strong with regards to Frumkeit in general and the decline in proper values in Frum society today, the hypocrasy, the overemphasis on Chumros, as you state. The pain is shared by many of us who do see the truth and the doom and gloom. It should be a "wake up call", but instead it garners-- at best--pity for you as a person, at worst--comtempt. You speak the truth. I join with you in the hope that something, somehow will change in Frum society. That Cheshbon Hanefesh that you speak of is so long in coming.


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93.     12/23/07 - 9:41 AM
yoni

sharree, children are not a monolith. even teens. There are certainly teens that are mature enough to have a relationship with the opposite sex at that age. I would agree that most are just rationalizing their desire to sleep with them, but there are a handfull of others who are not, for various reasons. Research tends to show that the brightest of boys and girls start looking for true companionship as early as 8 or 6 years old. Not just a playmate, but a genuine, loving companionship, with the intent to grow together and for it to last a life time. Obviously at this age they could care less about those "special joys" attainable with the opposite sex, they are simply looking for the depth of companionship. I personaly know at least one such person, and being frum, in his early twenties he has been lonely for so very long at this point that he is in deep pain, because noone believes that this is what someone of that age is looking for.

I believe firmly that you can and should destinguish the between the two. I believe that this, in all likelihood, causes alot of very bright childrem to go off the derech. in the end, the joke is on us, because these are our future gedolim. these are the kids that are so bright they chap tosefos the first time they read it, and practicaly memorize the gemorah after only reviewing it a couple of times. These are the self same kids who could litteraly complete and understand the entire gemorah by the age of 18 or so, and instead, if anechdotal experience is any evidence, they are being driven straight off the derech because the frum world cannot, or will not acknowledge that this feeling they have is real, legitimate and not childish. Instead they are blamed for being imature and unable to contol themselves, which doesn't tally with reality. The bochur I mentioned, dispite all his contact with girls has never even kissed because he intends to save that for his real besheret, on their wedding day, although he is aware of how overwhelming ones feelings for a loved one can get, and that it can potentialy cause even the best intentioned to mess up.


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94. to Yardena     12/23/07 - 11:04 AM
Chana

You sound like you have had your own bumpy road. I salute you for continuing to press on and look for a solution.

Firstly, to answer your quesion, I am extremely fortunate to have one of the most laid back, understanding, calm, mature, respecting, supportive husbands that exist. Although we had the normal altercations expected from two people from different backgrounds learning to live a joined life, I would have a hard time describing our marriage as anything of a shalom bayis issue -- even at the beginning.

However, as I have said previously, every factor that is part of a child's upbringing and environment is going to play a part in influencing how that particular child views the world as well as his emotional health and maturity. The more "bad" influences during his upbringing, the more flaws you will find in his emotional health. We don't have control over all influences, and even the "bad" ones that we gave our children were most likely not done maliciously.

The period of a child's adolescent years is the time in his life when these faults in his emotional health are going to be the most obvious. This is because he is changing into an individual and asserting his own self. Until this point, he was a product of his environment coupled with the character and talent that HKB"H blessed him with. Now, he is starting to assert his mind and thoughts over his character and so this is when his strengths and faults will be more obvious.

As he becomes more mature, he will learn to hide certain parts of his personality and cover up feelings he doesn't want others to see. But during his adolescent years, he is still learning who he is and developing his own self. So, in this way, the teenage years are when a child is most transparent for those who wish to really look and see them instead of judging them for not being an exact image of the parent's dream child.

Due to this tranparency, adolescence is when a child is also the most vulnerable. I believe that this is the reason why teens are so sensitive and "overreact". When a burn victim's first thin layer of skin starts to grow back, would we say that he is overreacting if he screams out in pain when someone just barely brushes up against the wound?

Teens are feeling, living, and thinking much more intensely than they did as a child and probably more than they will as a mature adult. When we say something that judges/criticizes/blames them, their reaction is going to be in proportion with their intensity -- severe. This is also why a parent recognizing, acknowledging, and voicing their teen's feelings and thoughts out loud, is one of the most effective ways to calm a frustrated/angry teen down. Even if the parent doesn't see eye to eye with his teen, just making the child understand that you understand where he is coming from will make it easier for him to listen to you. (But speak fast, with love, and using fewer than 15 words to get your point across -- most teens have a hard time seeing objectively for longer than that even when they are calm!)

Inasmuch as I find it helpful to try to identify as many of the factors that influence my child both as a youngster and specifically as a teen, my sole purpose is to do a cheshbon hanefesh and see if there is anything that I can change in that factor to help my teen feel more secure and loved and connected.

Most factors fall into two categories: public domain and private domain. It is incumbent upon every parent of an at-risk teen to make an honest, personal cheshbon hanefesh of the factors derived from the home environment. If I can identify a factor that is in the public domain, then I can try to garner public awareness of the fault and hope that collectively we can rectify the problem.

Digging for the causes of kids becoming at-risk or going OTD, for the sole purpose of "placing blame where blame is due" is IMHO counterproductive. If there was a shalom bayis issue and it has since been rectified, then leave this factor alone and find something that still needs changing. Dwelling on it and worrying that maybe the experience left your child with a scar is only going to give you feelings of guilt. This will diversely affect your ability to be positive and happy -- a necessary frame of mind throughout your quest to make your child's life more positive and happy.

One more thing: rabbonim, rebbetzins, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. all have the power to build or to cause devastating destruction. They are working with, molding, and changing the thought patterns and emotional responses of the people who turn to them for help. If you think about it, you are literally putting your life in the hands of these individuals.

After watching several of my close relatives get messed up by one therapist after the next, I am very wary of turning the interpretation of my problems over to another human being. This is one of the things that made me trust in the ideas behind Choice Theory. There is nobody but me involved. I choose what I want to change in me and I judge the result of the change from my own first-hand feelings. I don't have to describe how I feel to someone else who will interpret what is "really" going on. Nobody else is fiddling around in my psyche and I am not fiddling around in my child's psyche. Just the same, the result is all-encompassing and touches each and every person I have contact with -- first and foremost...myself! I must say that it is one of the most satisfying (and powerful) feelings I have ever had in my adult life -- to watch the evolution of those around me as a result of the positive change I have committed myself to. Working on this together with my husband and eventually my children served to strengthen our family bonds as well.

B'ezras Hashem, if you keep your eyes focused forward, you will find the answers you seek. Hashem helps those who make the effort to help themselves.


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95. Yoni     12/23/07 - 1:07 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

I do not intend to detract from your sincerity or your feelings, however when you say "Research tends to show that the brightest of boys and girls start looking for true companionship as early as 8 or 6 years old." I would like to see that research for myself and make sure it is not taken out of context.

Again life experiences can determine a person's maturity level, and unfortunately kids are not allowed to be kids today. Many young adults are forced into adulthood way too soon. Due to these circumstances they do feel the need to search out companionship and "love" to fullfill their two basic needs one is to "love and be loved" and the other is "to feel accomplished or be prodcutive". These are two major basic needs that everyone posesses from they youngest of ages. It really has nothing to do with a romantic relationship it has to do with fulfilling their basic needs. This is best explained by Dr. William Glasser in his book "Reality Therapy".

This is one of the reasons that our kids are in so much trouble today. Our school system destroy our childrens' self-esteem and self-confidence basically eliminating fullfillment of their needs to "love and be loved - self confidence; and accomplishment and being productive - self-esteem". That is one of the reasons that children seek out relationships to fullfill these needs.

There is another issue I wanted to address. I am second generation survivor. My parents walked through the fire and survived. My mother and her sisters lived through the horrors of Auschwitz. My whole upringing was based on survivival instincts. "I can't" is just not in my vocabulary and I teach that to my clients, "you can and you will accomplish everything you set your mind to." My parents also taught me never to judge anyone till you walked a mile in their shoes. They told me stories of the frumest of the frum who walked into the camps and lost their faith by the time they walked out angry at Hashem that he could let this happen. And then there were stories of the most secular Jews who became the most faithful because they saw the hand of Hashem in every single miracle he produced and couldn't believe and were so grateful that they were chosen to survive and continue the Legacy of the Jewish People. They came out the frumest of the frum. No one knows how they will react when they are tested.

One more thing about the difference between the second generation after the war and this generation. One thing was that we, the children, would never ever hurt our parents no matter what; whether they were good parents or bad because they walked through the fire. They suffered enough and we had the utmost respect for them. We had the most compassion for them, and yes we feared them. Some of us feared their wrath and violence, and some of us feared they would melt down and we would lose them. Some parents spoke of the war all the time and had nightmares and some never said a word.

Family meant everything to us. We savored our relationships with our aunts, unlces, grandparents and cousins. They meant everything to us because if you had extended family you were the lucky ones. Not everyone that came out of the war had anyone at all. If you couldn't speak to your parents about an issue, you had extended family or even your friends parents who were willing to sit and listen to you. And yes Yoni, it wasn't taboo to speak to your cousins of both sexes. Yom Tov was a time for everyone to get together, we even had family cirlces or melave malkas so we didn't lose contact with the family whether they were frum or not.

We don't have that with this generation. Families are so large most cousins wouldn't even recognize each other if they passed in the street. We chose to raise our children differently according to Dr. Spock and Dr. Brazelton. They were the experts. The society praised "permisivenes". We were stupid. The best parenting book is the "Torah".

We wanted to give our children everything we didn't have, every toy and luxury our parents couldn't afford. From Barbie dolls to sleep away camp. In my day if you couldn't afford it you didn't go. In my day nursery was a luxury. My parents were so proud of me because I was tested for Kindergarten and I passed. I didn't need to go to Kindergarten so I waited another year to start first grade. This saved them a year's tuition. Today if you don't send your kid to nursery at 2 you are a bad parent delaying their learning.

In my day, mothers where home when children came home from school and those children whose parents where not were pitied, they were called "latch key keys". Cleaning help was for the wealthy. I actually spoke to a special ed evaluator and we discussed why there are so many kids with this "label" today. We discussed the games special ed teachers are playing with the kids and they include: colors, shapes, numbers, etc. These are all things that as stay at home mothers we naturally did with our kids on a daily basis without even thinking about it. She concurred that since most mothers are working today, and babysitters or daycare workers do not stimulate or work with the kids they just don't have these skills. How sad is that? We are spiraling out of control to the detriment of our children just to keep up with a lifestyle that even our yeshivas are forcing us to keep up with $17,000 per child tuition.

There was another issues in the "60's and early 70's". Yeshivas were pulling kids into school. Many parents couldn't afford it and public school was an option. But there was this new phenomenon and threat in the public school system, drugs. Yeshivas were working overtime to convince parents to bring their kids in. When a parent came into school they were given the utmost respect. Not today, no way unless they have millions in their pocket.

If my parent came to school with a problem they treated them with the utmost respect and actually sat down and listened. (Even offered a cup of coffee). Today parents are afraid to bring an issue into school, because the response is usually "if you don't like it here you can take your child to another school". It is no longer about the child, it is about the school. They are looking for the best only. Well the definition of the best is "better than the rest" so how many can be the best? One or more than one? Is it singular or plural? And what happens to all the just regular normal kids.

I wish someone would open a Yeshiva for just regular, normal kids, who want to just be kids while still getting a good education. I bet they would fill up in a day and a half. Mind you I don't believe they would all come with issues or LD's, they would just be normal kids doing their best to meet their own individual potential.

I would like someone to explain this concept to me. There was a family in the neighborhood sitting shiva. I called two local yeshivas and asked that they sent some boys mincha time for a minyan since men were sitll at work. The response "We can't it would be a bitul zman Torah" doing this mitzvah would be a bitul zman Torah? A few days later I received a call from a distraught mother whose child played a prank in school. His consequence? He was suspended for three days. Let me get this straight. Davening mincha in the house of an avel is a Bitul Zman Torah. Suspending a child for a minor infraction for 3 days is not a Bitul Zman Torah? Someone please explain that to me.

My son went to Bais Moshe (Chana if I messed up the name chalk it up to another senior moment) in Scranton. Not only did they give back to the community that supported them by helping in the house of Shiva they also sent the boys to the cemetery to help with the burial, chas v"shalom that a Jew should be buried by the goyish staff of the cemetery. What do you think the boys learnt from these experiences? How to act like proper Jews and how to put the mitzvos that they learned to practical everyday use.

As teenagers we were very aware of drugs and we chose to stay away from them. If there was a few girls who fell victim we pitied them and had compassion for them. We did our best to help them not join them. We worked for causes, Triple S J, Rabbi Meir Kahane was a constant on our campus. Some of the juniors seniors where dating and there was a Kallah the night before graduation. No one was ever thrown out, but my Principal A"H did offer to arrange a transfer to another school for anyone who did not wish to follow the rules. Most girls complied after the "chat", one or two agreed to the transfer.

Tznius was adhered by way of "fire drills" the Principal and one other teacher was posted at both exits to the building and both were face down looking at skirt lengths not at faces. If they saw a skirt length not adhering to the rules, they would look up and send the student to the office to arrange to go home and change. No one was picked on, it was really very fair. No one had the nerve nor was it the style to wear non-tzniusdik tops.

The principal knew every student by name and his office was always open for a "chat". If you needed a break from a teacher he managed to need you to help him for that period. He alwasys listened to both sides of the story and perferred to work it out within the walls of the school before calling in the parents.

He himself taught the students how to daven and how to take notes. He made the students feel that he cares about each and every one of them and that made a big difference in their educational experience. He was one of a kind.

That was then and this is now. What can we learn from this. There has to be involvement between the mechanchim and the the students. It is not just a job. It is a job that requires love, warmth, understanding and most of all connection. If the connection is not there you are not going to see them meet their potential. They have to connect with you in order to accept information from you. In all honesty, I understand the teaching is difficult, I have been there. But excuses is just not acceptable. You wouldn't accept it from the students and it is unacceptable from the staff. You chose to be mechanchim so you have to put in the effort and the histadlus to find a way to do your job and reach every one of your charges. Ask other mechanchim, do research. Just as students say that teachers don't care that they have 3 tests the next day, they are told to "manage". Your job does not necessarily end when you shut the lights in your classroom. That child's self-esteem and self-confidence is in your hands for the entire year. You have the ability to make or break that child. That is a huge responsibility so don't take it lightly. Another thing it is OK to be wrong. It is also OK to apologize to a student whether you are a Rebbe or a teacher. What does this teach a child. That we are all human and we can all make mistakes. And if the Rebbe or Teacher apologizes for a mistake Kal V'chomer if they make a mistake they should apologize and move forward from there.

So again, I gave over a lot of information and once again nothing to do with the initial topic. Sorry.


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96.     12/23/07 - 4:13 PM
Anonymous

we have looked into other chugim for him

Chana, since you have shared details of your life with us, I hope it's okay to ask you two questions: Have you raised your children in Israel all along or have you made aliya at a later point? What is your and your husband's yeshiva background?


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97.     12/23/07 - 5:01 PM
Anonymous

Just a thought- part of the miscommunication we are having here is the mixed participation- we have pained parents from an adult, mature perspective of those who have been through the mill and learned important truths, those who have the experience and insight to provide help and support (R' Horowitz, S. Belsky, B. Twersky, and other helpful posters), and then some individuals at risk themselves, going through their own pain, or others who are younger and more easily relate to their place of pain and frustration, not necessarily from a place of objective clarity, but certainly providing insight to parents and coaches who strive to understand their pain.

The casual reader might be taken aback at some of the comments, such as the visceral, angry condemnation of gedolim for being "part of the problem", or the snide response to someone's heartfelt wishes to an individual in pain for resolution and a fruitful life. But in truth, all this is part of the kaleidoscope of heavy feelings, confusion and pain that so characterizes the difficulty of these issues. And it does add to the picture- without some sentiments needing to be "right" or "wrong". We can validate the feelings without necessarily agreeing to them.

Thank you again to Sherree and Chanah for your crucial insights, and also to B Twersky and Yardena.

One additional point, that perhaps was written here already but I missed: as a previously difficult teen myself, and knowing many more, the personality and character of the teen needs to be factored into the equation as well. Let's take a hypothetical family of 6 children, all of them remaining frum, happy to be frum, etc. However, they are all not clones. Some are nice, caring individuals who excel at perspective taking, empathy etc, and others are more self-centered and me-focused. Some know how to respect authority whilst developing their own healthy independence, whilst others in the family have a difficult time with any authority, disliking being given directions in a variety of settings. Let us assume that the parents have excellent parenting skills, and supported the healthy development of each of their children, so that each child developed as best as possible given their innate character and personality, leaving room for growth along the journey of life to continue working with their individual yetzer hara's and fostering better middot.

Carrying over this analogy, teens who are "at risk" are also individuals, and not every scenario is the product of faulty parenting and yeshivot. Yes, those are huge factors, and deficiencies in these areas can stack the odds against even the most "wonderful" child. But just like in any situation, without the hoopla surrounding the "at risk crisis", the teen him/herself needs to be accountable as well, to whatever extent is applicable in the particular situation. Accountable to no one but themselves, because ultimately, each individual leads the way on their own journey. But in all the excellent articles and talk about problems in parenting, problems in yeshivot, problems in the community, we must remember that not all of us are alike, and if 100 years ago those with more difficult middot to overcome manifested these in other ways, today they might be manifested in going OTD, or another, more current, manner. For example, very arrogant teenagers who are convinced that they know best, and easily put down any and all authority, most especially religious authority, might not be a product of fault parenting, yeshivot, or community, but a manifestation of personal middot which need work. Today, when someone lashes out at the community etc, we say, oh, what a pity; there must have been a terrible dynamic in this child's life to produce such chutzpah. Perhaps, but perhaps not. We need to include in our analysis the concept of accountability on the part of the teens themselves- not EVERYTHING is environmental, even though community, yeshiva, and parenting finger pointing find a ready and sympathetic ear, and an almost "easy" answer to a complex dynamic that MAY also include some poor middot and tendencies on the part of the teen that is not a product of anything external to the teen.


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98.     12/23/07 - 7:18 PM
yaffa - New York

I am another "client" of Devorah Weiss'. I cannot stress enough the value of having a coach/mentor in dealing with, for want of a better term, an "at-risk" teen.(I really hate that expression.) I have been working with Devorah for more than a year and I must say that her guidance and insight have gotten me through some very rough and potentially relationship-shattering moments with my son. There are times I've felt justified in wallowing in self-pity ("I don't deserve this") or savoring the taste of (of course, pyrrhic) victory("I got him this time"), but Devorah has always gently nudged me back to my higher self and to improving THE RELATIONSHIP. She has taught me to ask myself "Is what I am about to say/do going to bring me closer or farther away from my precious son?" before acting. She has helped me give up the "7 deadly habits" (Read the Choice Theory books)and to try to listen, to understand and to respect my son, no matter how way out he sounds. And maybe most importantly, she has given me hope again--in myself and in my child.


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99. to anonymous     12/24/07 - 12:36 AM
Chana

In response to your questions:

Have you raised your children in Israel all along or have you made aliya at a later point? What is your and your husband's yeshiva background?

Our children were all born and are being raised in Yerushalayim. I grew up an FFB, though my parents are ba'alei teshuvah from traditional/7-day-work-week-so-I-can't-take-off-Shabbos American homes. We only crossed the fine line into "yeshivish" when I was about 10. I attended Bais Yaakov throughout my schooling and went to an Israeli seminary where I first came into contact with Israeli chareidi society and acclimated without problems or culture shocks. My husband was raised in Eretz Yisrael in a yeshivish home, though he is from an American family who made aliyah in the middle of raising their children. I made aliyah when we got married.

Hope this information helps you.

Kol tuv, Chanah


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100. Choice Theory     12/24/07 - 1:52 AM
AK

Yaffa, Thanks for the reminder. There have been several articles here - Coercision is not chinuch and a similar one the neccessity of choice , Competition and rewards = Dr Sorotzkin which reflect on the importance of choice or to use a term coined by Deci and Ryan - being self dtermined , making choices independent of external control and extrinsic motivation. This is not about the 'psuedo choices' that parents give children - you chose to be grounded or choose the consequence but kids acting in an autonomous way , expressing their values and reflecting who they are , what type of people they want to become and not just what others want them to do or because they will be rewarded or punished. A correct choice would be one that would reflect on the type of person they are trying to become. Giving choices is still top- down , the parent saying I am giving you a choice to do it this way or other, it is not a decision eminating from the child. The word consequences is really a nicer way to make your kid suffer , sounds more acceptable than punishments , but it is the same thing. Parents also have a choice to move a way from external controls , consequences , ' doing to kids 'etc move towards working with them , problem solving , being accountable by making restitution, fixing relationships, coming up with a better plan , making a commitment to be the type of person a Torah Jew should aspire to. When we do this our relationship improves , there is a trust , if you need rewards and punishment - you don;t trust your child to act appropriately, and it promotes the important life skills of building relationships , working and getting along with people. I am very busy with my business , end of year now in EY , I wouldd like to elaborate more especially on the ' meme ' expressed here that punishments and rewards prepare a kid for the real world. It is just another way to convince those parents who all they want is that kids will be compliant and do what they want irrespective of the child's own felings and needs, that there is merit .

Here is a quote from Jane Nelsen on consequences Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children DO better first we have to make them FEEL worse? When people first hear this quote from “Positive Discipline,” they usually laugh as they think about how it doesn’t make sense. However, when it comes to application, it seems that parents, teachers, and students have difficulty accepting that people do better when they feel better. here is a summary of Unhappy Teenagers http://www.explosivekids.org/dcforum/DCForumID2/158.html

There is no reason why this approach should used for younger kids . As Myrna Shure says when you talk to your kids and problem solve when they are young, they will talk to you , trust you to help them with their problems , become good problem solvers as well when they are older If William Glasser speaks to you , Alfie KOhn will also http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/content/excerpt.asp see his site as well


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101.     12/24/07 - 6:07 AM
yoni

I would point out that I would tend to think that if perents are consistantly helpful in solving problems, and are sensitive to a child's needs (and are amiable when solving problems), when they become teens they are likely to still bring you their problems. If you are not such a good problem solver, likely they wont.

And especialy if you don't judge them for their problems, which admittedly can be pretty hard when you're emotionaly involved.

Oh, and another sugestion, if at somepoint your child does pick up a friend who is helpful rather that a partner in crime, please facilitate said friendship, and show a friendly disposition towards him/her, even if the child isn't otherwise entirely ok. They may surprise you sometime by giving you heads up about what is going wrong in your child's life, or you may be able to ask the friend if there is genuinely anything you can do to help him/her. (I would not, however, sugest prying by asking details, just ask exactly that, express concern about your child, and ask them if they think there is anything you could really do to help. Details likely are not forthcoming unless the child volenteers them, and doing so will only earn you aninymity of both.)


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102. friends     12/24/07 - 7:20 AM
chana

Yoni, you wrote

...a friend who is helpful rather that a partner in crime, please facilitate said friendship ... even if the child isn't otherwise entirely ok

I'm interested in understanding what someone from your perspective would consider a friend who was "helpful but not otherwise entirely okay".

I ask because although, in theory, I agree with you, I can't think of an example of such a person unless you are refering to someone who has a healthy view on life and is mature and responsible toward himself and those around him -- regardless of his religious affiliations (assuming he isn't missionizing another religion).

If this IS the type of person you are referring to, my experience is that most teens at risk don't usually have the blessing of making such friends.

Thanks for helping me understand.


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103.     12/24/07 - 7:39 AM
yaffa

Chana, I think I understand what Yoni means. My son has a good friend who exhibits the same arrogance and cynicism toward most of society as my son and affects a similar "swagger"and condescending "drawl" (you'd have to hear it to get it) in speech to my son's; we were worried that together their "us against the world" stance was dangerous and we expressed concern about the friendship. My son defended the friendship, explaining that if it weren't for this friend he wouldn't be putting tefillin on. Yes, in some respects they reinforce negative traits in one another but on the other hand they support one another--e.g. they do some drinking together but are both opposed to smoking...


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104.     12/24/07 - 7:42 AM
yaffa

one more thing...this friend of our son's doesn't let him get away with his outlandish antics when they're together at our home.Also, he defends our younger kids when our son bullies or taunts them...He truly keeps our son in check, I believe.


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105.     12/24/07 - 8:14 AM
yoni

I would suppose that would count. In particular I was thinking of a girl I knew/know (I haven't spoken to her in years). She is a wonderful, kind, caring and often considerate person, but she is also rather, shall we say, "not tznius".

But at the same time she would never have influenced me to be likewise, and I don't quite know how to express it, but she helped. She was constructive. (although perhaps other than being depressed, struggling sometimes with davening, tefillin, and frequently talking to girls, I never engaged in many of the other at risk behaviors like drinking, smoking, drugs, mechallel shabbos (ok, exactly twice, and I still wince when I think about it, and felt bad about it even when I did it. Nor were they under the most healthy of circumstances) stealing, real promiscuity, etc.)

Basicaly in my case, she listened. She cared. Once when I was suicidal she came to sit with me. This is dispite her being "not tznius" (although she is respectfull of tzniut in shul, and I'm certain i've never seen the worst of what she wears). She would have never encouraged me to engage in similar behaviors, or done anything like that

basicaly all I'm trying to say is that if the friend is having a positive impact on your child and not a negative impact, my sugestion is to facilitate the friendship, even though there may be character traits that you may object to. (like being loose, provided they don't encourage it in your child. Some people might object to a modern orthodox friend or non-observant friend. Sometimes, I suppose, the objection may simply be that its the opposite sex (in which case one qould expect as a prerequisite that the child is not misbehaving with said friend)) If you encourage friends that are contributing to a solution of some kind, you may be able to apply positive selective pressure to limit contact with friends who are contributing to the problem, by facilitating friendships that are contributing to the solution, and thereby making it much easier for the child to spend time with said friend, which will likewise lead to spending less time with others.

(although in my case in particular it should be noted that I was the little elementery schooler who hung out with the girls, and ignored the "cootie question", so perhaps the boy girl side of said issue doesn't apply to most people, I have to admit I simply do not know.)


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106. got it     12/24/07 - 8:39 AM
chana

Thank you Yaffa and Yoni for explaining. I would say that both your son, Yaffa, and you, Yoni, were among the lucky ones to have someone when in crisis and going through difficult moments who didn't try to encourage bad behaviors and were supportive as well as davka encouraging positive behaviors. I do wish my son had someone like that. It would make HIM so much happier.


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107.     12/24/07 - 9:04 AM
yaffa

I wish for your son the same, Chana.


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108. Behavioral Issues vs At-Risk     12/24/07 - 12:18 PM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

I just wanted to make a distinction between children in the parsha that are in turmoil because of a real and overwhelming pain they are burdened with and children that have a behavioral issue.

Selfish attitudes, viloent behavior, and other behavioral issues can and should be able to be diagnosed in early childhood or as a child develops. If not treated or addressed appropriately it can turn into an at-risk situation because the child is truly hurt within because they feel that they are not "loved and cared for" because their needs are not being met. They usually feel ignored or given up on. Their need to "love and be loved" or "feel accomplished and productive" is not met and therefore they lose their self-esteem and self-confidence sometimes hidden by a false bravado.

We have a responsibility to our children to be alert and aware of all their issues. It is a 24/7 job and it is very hard and very tiring. Children do not come with instruction books nor with guarantees. No one promised it was going to be easy, but B"H we do derive much nachas from them.

To AK, you are very adimant in your beliefs and although I am a big believer in what I say and it has worked very well for my clients, following the Choice Theory method of responsibility and accountability. And understanding that life is governed by rules and what every action you choose will naturally bring you either a reward or consequence throughout your entire life. I don't understand the permissive attitude not holding children accountable for their actions and just discussing things with them. If children do not have to do anything in the form of correction for their behavior what will keep them from repeating a poor choice in the future? I can't believe that when they are together with their friends ready to make a poor choice they will say "oh, if I do this I will have one of those discussions again with my mother."

Consequences do not equal torture. When a consequence is appropriate to an offense and especially when a child is involved in choosing the consequence they learn to make better choices. If they break curfew and they can't go out the next night I don't understand why you would see that as "torture" or suffering. It does not extract a pound of flesh, deny them of their sustenance, or effect their health or emotional well being. It teaches them that if you take advantage of a privilege you are at risk of losing those very same privileges.

In "real life" if you decide to speed excessively you will have your drivers license suspended. Driving is a privilege and if you don't respect that, it comes with a consequences. That's life.

I would ask you to please give examples of how your premise has worked in raising your own children and the outcome of never offering any consequences or rules to be followed.

Thanking you in advance for sharing the outcome of the practice of your theory and not just your theory.

Sherree

PS. I do apologize if my posts come out sounding fierce. I do fiercely defend the At-Risk population both parents and children due to the lack of sensitivity, understanding and unrelenting judgment of them and their decisions. It is a heartbreaking experience visiting your clients in detention, standing with them in front of a judge in family court, at an ACS meeting, convincing a child that their parents do actually love them, a parent that a child needs to hear that they love them, and then defend them to the outside world.

Teaching a parent to see things through the eyes of the child from their point of view and vice a versa takes tremendous patience. Teaching outsiders to understand that the parents and or children did not ask for this nisayon and they can't fix it by following "their" particular advice is draining and exhausting. Again there is just so much that one can't possibly understand unless you are willing to get involved in the parsha. Please accept my apologies if I offended anyone.


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109.     12/24/07 - 1:22 PM
Anonymous

Are you saying that you


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110. Sherree: and your story is?     12/24/07 - 1:27 PM
Anonymous

Are you saying that you have personally experienced the agony of your own child going off the derech, drugs, suicide-atttempts etc.? There are lots of comments on this page and maybe I missed it. Since you have made this point, that only those who have experienced it have the right to say anything, and you've been saying a lot, I was wondering about your own experience. And if this has been your experience, what did you do to turn it around and is your child frum today?

I think these are fair questions, given what you have said and your challenge to Ak to provide personal examples.


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111. Wow     12/24/07 - 2:28 PM
Anonymous

I don't agree with anonymous that those are fair questions. Sherree has been quite clear that those with appropriate skills and experience, such as R' Horowitz and R' Twersky, are suited to the task. It is clear from Sherree's insight that she is in that category as well.

R' Horowitz or others may also caution against going to those with inappropriate experience- would you have the chutzpah to ask him about his own children too? I think you're missing some basic derech eretz. NO ONE, should EVER, ask someone point blank this question. It reflects terribly on the questioner, and no one should feel obliged to answer such blatant rudeness.

If you don't agree with Sherree's ideas or insights, don't, I'm sure there are many who disagree with R' Horowitz or R' Twersky. That's the way people are- we're all different. I myself have gained tremendously from her words, but we don't have to be alike. But your question? Way, way out of the bounds of civil decency.


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112. Different approach     12/24/07 - 3:07 PM
Ak

Hi, I don't have the time , Sheree you have not understood what I have written about choice theory or accountability . Just to take the example of a kid coming late after curfew time - I assume this time was mutually agreed upon and addressed both parent's and child's concerns. So the kid s come late , if it is a rule and since the kid has broken a rule , Sheree says you have to teach a kid a lesson for abusing a privelege ( in my home I tried to support my kid;s autonomy and don;t give them the feeling - that everything is conditional , a privelege ) so you give a consequence and even better , the kid chooses - and as if the kid really chooses , this is psuedo choice , I don;t think William Glasser of choice theory is thinking your way . What would I do ? In my home we don;t have rules but we have expectations and when my expectations are unmet , I am not forced into punishing , but I can ask myself how can I help my child come up with a better plan , help him reflect not what will happen to him if he comes late , but how coming late impacts on the family , his ability to cope the following day , the values being late out at night expresses etc So we address the concerns and try to problem solve and come up with a plan that will ensure behavior which is intentional , meaning eminating from himself and not because of might be done to him by parents who may have set limits without consulting him. You see rewards and punishments , consequences , earning privelegs reflect a relationship with is an economic one , a tranactional one and in the real world - William Glasser asks a parent do you use consequences on your friends and spouses. The method of withdrawing privileges is essentially negative: I can't communicate with you, and so I'll hurt you if you don't mind me. The positive counterpoint is: We all make mistakes, and you can trust me to help you do better in the future. Gordon Thomas says PET - every time you use ' power' you miss out on a learning opportunity .The question is why not use inductive discipline , explainin consequences , not what will happen to you , but how one's actions impact on others and reflect on the type of person you want to become. If what I say speaks to you check out books by Alfie KOhn , William Glasser - Unhappy teenagers , choice theory , Deci and Ryan - self determination theory on extrinsic motivation , Ross Greene - The explosive child , Myrna Shure series - raising thinking child , preteen etc , thinking parent, thinking child. What this offers is being respectful to children, giving them a voice ( not choosing consequence), working with them , caring about their sensitive neshamas, bonding, perspective tacking, promting cognitive skills through problem solving and of course promoting the relationship. Kids don;t hit because they are afraid of consequences , they don;t hit because they have empathy and feel for the others . That;s is what we do in problem solve is to reflect on issues. The chazon Ish says that kids need more than love their parents respect. Unconditionally loving a kid and at the same time being conditional , contingent, withdrawing priveleges , giving the kid the feeling that he chose to be grounded and the kid caused you to do to him these not to pleasant consequences , doses not make sense to me . It is not compassionate and honestly it makes me sick when parents instead of dealing with issues , helping a kid repair damage , give him a vision for the future , a better plan give a consequence or punishment


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113. manners     12/24/07 - 3:16 PM
Anonymous

Oh, but sherree's question to Ak:

I would ask you to please give examples of how your premise has worked in raising your own children and the outcome of never offering any consequences or rules to be followed.

is polite and fair.

Puleeze

This is R' Horowitz's blog. I am finding the responses to this segment annoying. It's nice when disparate people have insights to contribute, but I am not enjoying the take-over of the comment section, not by Alfie Kohn material, not by Sherree's perspective as presented in numerous, lengthy, and abrasive comments, even when I agree with some points.

I don't think the comment section is a place for people to present their personal challenges (as nice as Chana and Yardena and others sound) for others to respond to.

Too many of the comments are digressions from the topic to a dialogue among strangers about personal problems.

If I am reading material on this website, it is because I think Rabbi Horowitz is worth my time and the comments are sometimes stimulating. If someone wanted to speak to him personally about a chinuch problem, I think it would be wise to find out how he did with his own children.


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114. Chinuch     12/24/07 - 4:12 PM
Ak

Anon, I think I have answered your question. It is called concensual living , talking in the plural , being concerned about all members of the family , being accepting even when they screw up. You have expectations and not rules , when they are unmet , you problem solve , work with the kid so he trusts you to address his concerns and be fair and at the same time address your own concerns. Trust your kids to do the right thing , they will meet your expectations , run your home with rules and consequences - you are making a statement , I don;t trust my kids . Check the parenting forum here for the resources that have helped me . IMHO my approach is more about chinuch , getting a kid to reflect not on what's in it for him , but explore outside of himself


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115.     12/24/07 - 4:40 PM
Anonymous

You know what? From your words, it is apparent that the blog part of this site is probably not where you enjoy being.

You enjoy R' Horowitz's articles- so do we all, or we wouldn't be here. A blog is a place where others may contribute, and all are free to take or reject opinions, as they are just that- opinions. Of course, R' Horowitz's articles are opinions as well, but they carry more weight, as this is his site, which obviously attracts us all.

If you don't like parents coming here discussing their painful issues, if you don't like AK's discussion on Alfie Kohn, if you don't like Sherree's insight gleaned from her experience, why are you reading the comment section? Are there ANY comments you do like? It is apparent that R' Horowitz feels commenters are gaining from the dialogue- he rarely inserts a comment among the discourse, and leaves it up to the readers to discuss the themes, including tangents that readers segue into.

And yes, it's OK for Sherree to ask AK for some concrete examples of his theory- that is not PERSONAL, even if it relates to his own children. It is examples of a theory. I actually thought AK answered that one very well, and it shed more practical light on the ideas he presents. It is NOT Ok to ask Sherree if she had a child who WENT OTD or on drugs and if became frum because of her theories- if you can't tell the difference, that is astounding.

Apparently not you, but many of us are here because we DO have "personal problems". It's very sad that you don't see the value of real life parents sharing their pain and sharing their experiences and strategies which worked- although I am happy for you that this does not interest you. It is good that you enjoy the intellectual stimulation that R' Horowitz provides- reading the articles in the Mishpacha might be a better choice for you. The nature of a blog is different from a magazine, and opinions, so long as they are within the bounds of civil discourse, don't pose any problem to most people who read and gain from blogs.

This statement was the most puzzling of all:

"If someone wanted to speak to him personally about a chinuch problem, I think it would be wise to find out how he did with his own children"

Every written question that precipitates an article from R' Horowitz on this site was someone "speaking to him personally about a chinuch problem". With more anonymity, of course, and perhaps with less detail than optimal, but they didn't post these questions on the nearest train station billboard, to be randomly picked off by R' Horowitz. They were specifically directed at him, because they (and many of us) believe he has the experience, expertise, and knowledge to answer the chinuch problem they pose. Have you seen anyone preface the question by saying, "Rabbi, before addressing my chinuch problem, can you please give me personal details about your own children, if they were on drugs, and where exactly they are holding now?" I assume that with a wonderful father as R' Horowitz, they are doing well, but it is none of my, or anyone's business!! If you want his expertise, ask for it. If you don't trust it, don't! Same with bloggers who have more experience than the laymen here. If you like R' Twersky's opinions on the subject, take them to heart. If not, disregard them! If you like Sherree's opinions on the subject, take them to heart! If not, disregard them! For that matter, if you like AK's presentation on Alfie Kohn's ideas, take them to heart! If not, disregard them! You can ask someone for more practical examples of application in their family on the theories presented. But no, and it is SO SAD that I even have to say this, it is NOT appropriate to ask if someone's child went off the derech, and how they are doing now frum-wise.

If you go to a speech on parenting for children at risk, do you raise your hand and ask personal questions regarding the frumkeit of the presenter's children, to "verify" if they have adequate experience to coach others? Hopefully not! Hopefully, if you don't like what the person is saying, you either sit quietly until the end, or leave just as quietly. On a blog, you didn't make the decision to go to a speech, but you did make the decision to visit the blog. You don't have to like everything, and it is perfectly appropriate to debate away, and question whatever you'd like to question. WITHOUT asking if someone's children are frum or have had problems!!! You can ask Sherree, "I'm not sure that what you are saying is appropriate in a typical family setting (or whatever your point of contention is), can you give me some examples of how you have carried _____ out in your own family, and the outcomes of these, or real life examples of other families you've coached, so I can judge for myself if your theories bear out?"

You asked, and I feel sick even reprinting it here, "Are you saying that you have personally experienced the agony of your own child going off the derech, drugs, suicide-atttempts etc.? ... I was wondering about your own experience. And if this has been your experience, what did you do to turn it around and is your child frum today?"

You asked if someones children went off the derech! You asked if someone's children have been involved in drugs or suicide attempts! Do you do that at dinner parties, if someone offers their insight into parenting at risk children?! I am glad that you find it hard to relate to parents going through this agony, and prefer not to see their comments on the board. But please think next time, before asking someone such personal, deeply rude questions. The internet isn't the politest place to hang out, but there ARE some basic lines of decency.


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116. Kudos to Chana, AK & Yaffa     12/24/07 - 9:12 PM
Dasi

Kudos to Chana, AK and Yaffa who have read, studied, discussed, embraced and internalized the simple yet deep and life changing concepts of Glasser's Choice Theory. Your posts demonstrate a clear understanding and implementation of CT into your lives. It seems the original letter writer too understood the importance of relationships.

I, too, am familiar with Devorah Weiss's focus on parent-teen relationships. Giving up controlling behaviors - Glasser writes there are more than just 7 Deadly Habits (nagging, punishing/consequences, confronting, criticizing ETC) and replacing them with the tools and skills from the "Parent as Coach" approach is a winning combination. Discussing these ideas and principles with a professional who applies these skills and tools (how to respect, listen and understand etc) to each person's unique family situation is essential.

Unfortunately, coach and director Sherree Belsky - you have seriously MISrepresented Choice Theory. Your posts (several of them) demonstrate a lack of the most basic understanding. Please consider a full week of CT/RT training (contact WG Institute)for starters. It is a disservice to all of Rabbi Horowitz's readers to write your expert OPINIONS of consequences, responsibililty, accountabilitly and pass them off as Choice Theory. Perhaps you'd consider some additonal training before posting again.


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117. Dasi     12/24/07 - 9:42 PM
Jay

Did Ms. Belsky pass off all of her coaching ideas as choice theory? I don't remember that. I think her ideas are extraordinarily helpful, and stand on their own merit.

I appreciate the concepts underlying choice theory. I also appreciate Ms. Belsky's extraordinary ability to 'cut to the chase' and understand what teenagers and parents are going through.

Truthfully, I'm sure many of us would benefit from a week's training with Ms. Belsky.


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118. AK     12/24/07 - 9:48 PM
Sherree Belsky

( in my home I tried to support my kid;s autonomy and don;t give them the feeling - that everything is conditional , a privelege ) so you give a consequence and even better , the kid chooses - and as if the kid really chooses , this is psuedo choice , I don;t think William Glasser of choice theory is thinking your way .

I don't know how and why we got into this conflict which seems to be taking on a life of its own. You don't seem to understand what I am saying. We both seem to respect and admire Dr. Glasser and I do consider him my teacher. I am reading his books one after the other and I do base my coaching and mentoring program on the tools I learn from him.

You misunderstood me. Children do not "choose" their consequence however they are involved in the discussion and thereby are listened to, heard and understood, and have input. Conversations and communications are vital to any relationship especially to a parent/child relationship. When a child makes a poor choice and "suffers" a consequence it is a learning tool and he/she understands via discussion that when they chose the choice they made they also chose the results of that choice. The consequence is never harmful to the child because parents should never do anything intentional to harm a child and again there is the same discussion that you have with the child as to "what do you think you could have or should have done differently in this circumstance to bring about a different outcome". The next time the child is faced with a similar situation they will remember to choose differently.

Privileges and rewards are something earned according to one's actions and it could be as simple as feeling really good about oneself as a result of one's actions. It is a natural result of a good choice or action. It is not a bribe. I don't understand why you are reading my words and interpreting in this manner.

In addition I firmly believe and we can agree to disagree, that children need guidelines and boundaries to feel loved and cared for. As they get older, they mature and prove to be more responsible, these boundaries can and should be renegotiated accordingly. We have to teach our children to live in the real world and guide them in their choices before the fact and of course correct them after. In my humble opinion it is unrealistic to believe that we can allow our children not to be accountable and responsible for their actions because when they step into the real world they will have to face the reality of priveleges and consequences. The judge, boss, cop, professor, doctor, etc. will be very happy to explain the concept of privileges and consequences very clearly in the real world for anyone who doesn't get it.

But that is what I believe in and the platform from which I work. If what you do works for you, as they say "different strokes for different folks".

As to "anon" who asked for my personal info. I agree that it was rude and unfair to ask about my personal info since unlike yourself I am not protecting neither myself nor my family by anonymity here. I used my own name and title to assist and share my knowledge and experience with those who were interested. I will say this though. In the past 13 years, I have had 11 boys at various times, for various periods of time and for various reasons living in my home. B"H they are all doing well now, some are married and some have completed college. They are all Shomer Torah and mitzvos today, and two became Breslov. I already have "4" marrieds from these kids, "3" babies and one on the way.

I have one boy that I have been connected with and mentoring for the past 5 years that I consider my son. He lived in my home 3 times. I also have 2 "daughters" that I have been connected with for the past 5 years. One married with a one year old, and one in the shidduch parsha.

I have been involved in 3 suicide preventions (all girls), and often tease my friends when speaking shidduchim...if you make 3 shidduchim you automatically get "Gan Eden". If you save 3 lives do you also automatically get "Gan Eden"?

I have raised money to send kids to rehab, Yeshivot in E"Y and send kids to summer camp. I do have my own way of doing things and as I said everything I do is based on the "survivor's" instinct. I do it because I love and respect each and every one of these kids and they respect me back.

Can you imagine walking into an At-Risk Yeshiva and the boys whispering to each other to put their yarmulkas on because Mrs. B is in the building? They did this out of respect for me, because they knew how it hurt me to see them walking around in a makom kodesh without their yarmulkas. I didn't tell them to, but because I respected them they always respected me and didn't want to hurt me. That is because they knew I would never ever intentionally hurt them either. I opened my home to them, I fed them, I listened to them and even helped with their homework. At midnight my husband sent them home.

At times I would get a call from the Yeshiva in the morning that they were missing boys could I please check my bedrooms. When I looked I found six or seven boys sleeping in the back bedrooms, on the beds and carpet. They went upstairs instead of back to the dorms. I told them to please get up the Rebbe needed them for Shachris and would be here any minute to pick them up. This happened at least 5 times during that year.

I have had very extraordinary experiences in the past 5 years. I have had tremendous nachas from my clients. I have also never charged anyone a single red cent for my services. I have always worked only for chessed and for the success of these children and their families.

I hope this satisfies your need for information and curiousity. And again when a person is not "anonymous" please be courteous enough to not be too curious.

Sherree


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119. Reminder to anon #113     12/24/07 - 10:48 PM
Jay

In regard to:

"I don't think the comment section is a place for people to present their personal challenges (as nice as Chana and Yardena and others sound) for others to respond to.

Too many of the comments are digressions from the topic to a dialogue among strangers about personal problems."

"Personal problems" are what this blog is all about. Collectively, many "personal problems" translate to community problems. The original article itself centered around a "personal problem", R' Horowitz's cogent response to a personal question. Parents who contribute their own experiences to this blog are the most valuable of all, and I as a parent read every word of Chanah, Yardena, and others very carefuly. I think they are the point of this blog.

Parent/teen issues are not "digressions from the topic"; they, quite frankly, are the topic. I hope you come to realize this.


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120.     12/24/07 - 11:05 PM
yoni

I know its chutzpahdik of me, as this is rabbi horowitz's blog, but please, I know that emotions run high on this subject, but please, can we all (my self included) calm down a bit? It would not do any good to have a truly at risk kid (not just someone who is simply stubborn as a badger who refuses to let go of somethin he wants that his causing him pain, like my self. I'll die before I let go of my judaism.) to come accross this thread and see such acrimony? I am thankfull that this thread is uncensored, but I am asking and pleading for some sense of loving, warm decorum. It would probably do us all a great deal of good.

And my appologies for having sort of started this, as I was the source of mrs. belsky's complaint, which irked M (to whom I am greatfull for the support. It is something I have received precious little of) and which set the tone ratcheting up.

please?


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121. Yoni     12/24/07 - 11:42 PM
Jay

Yoni, good point!

I have been reading all the comments, and I don't think you were the source of anything, but it certainly is darchei shalom to say it in that context!

I do hope that commenters will take your (very respectfully worded) plea to heart, and refrain from disparaging the nature of comments, the ideas of others, and certainly, from expressing themselves inappropriately to others. This has been such a civil blog- everyone should be welcomed to participate in this important discourse.


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122. to Sherree     12/25/07 - 12:51 AM
Sarah W

While your desire to help and your contribution of time, emotions, and energy is quite commendible, and your list of successes is quite impressive, I think all of us know that it is much easier to raise/help another person's child than our own. I hated my controling, abusive mother passionately for most of my life (until I learned to forgive and accept her with her limitations), but one of my best friends found in her a most warm, comforting and attentive mentor. This is mainly because we treat "outsiders" differently than we treat our own children. The expectations are not there. We also don't try (or feel we have the right) to control friends, etc. This is part of the reason why some counselors are at loss when their own children give them problems -- despite an overwhelming success rate with their clients.

I have to agree with Dasi and AK in that the opinions you have expressed here regarding consequences and responsibility are of a controling nature and will not work with most teens -- especially those at risk. Chana pointed this out quite clearly in comment #91 above. In fact, in most cases following this advice will hurt the parent/teen relationship. If you used these tactics with your clients, the only reason they worked was because you weren't their parent. Often outsiders can get away with more than parents can in regard to dealing with teens with issues. Most of these teens will tune out the parent before he/she even starts talking. If I say to my daughter, "Maybe check in the mirror, I think that skirt might be too short to wear out of the house." I'm just stupid and don't know what I'm talking about. But if her mentor says it to her, even in a more forceful/controlling manner, she'll run right home and change.

If you did use these tactics with your own children, did you find that they were all as respecting and responsive as you describe your clients to be? I find it hard to believe that the answer is yes. However, if your answer is affirmative, I would have to say that your kids are extraordinary and your parent/child bond with them must be amazing -- well above the average blogger on this site.


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123. Sarah W     12/25/07 - 1:26 AM
Jay

"Privileges and rewards are something earned according to one's actions and it could be as simple as feeling really good about oneself as a result of one's actions. It is a natural result of a good choice or action. It is not a bribe. I don't understand why you are reading my words and interpreting in this manner."

Sarah, could it be that you too are interpreting Sheree's understanding of "consequences" in a way that is familiar to you, and not in consonance with Sherree's intent? In response to AK's excellent question, she explained (as written above) that a "consequence" is what follows an action, not something a parent "imposes on child". As Sherree explained, a consequence can be something like a child feeling good about their choices. She is labeling what occurs after the action, not recommending the parent "do" something "to the child" following the poor choice.

For example, if my child fails to study for an exam, she may not receive the grade she was hoping for. She might be feeling regretful that she did not put in appropriate effort, or some other not great feeling. Her grade, as well as the accompanying feelings of regret, are consequences of the lack of adequate studying. A discussion regarding this, which I personally label cause and effect and Sherree labels "natural consequences", can be very helpful in supporting a child as he/she tries to problem solve and sort out concrete steps that might help in bringing about a more desired outcome articulated by the child for the future.

Sherree, please correct me if I am getting you wrong- this is how I understood your concept of consequence.


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124. in response to Jay     12/25/07 - 3:09 AM
Sarah W

Jay, I do agree and support the points you are making. However they are not pro-active advice for parents with troubled teens in the sense that they state a fact of nature: "natural consequences" or "cause and affect".

Sherree's previous comments state her opinion of how parents should be pro-active with consequences -- and not just when their children are young, also when they are old enough to be "breaking curfew". That sounds to me like a teen. As Chana wrote in comment #71 (sorry, I gave the wrong number in my previous post), "...once the child starts to become a teenager, he may begin to see consequences as controlling. And, if that teen turns into an at-risk teen, you are going to have to tread very carefully."

Here are some of Sherree's previous remarks above in this blog:

In comment # 66:

"Consequences that are fair and appropriate to the action teaches a child that mistakes happen but it does not end your life. A consequence has a begining and an end. And when the consequence is over the incident is put to rest. An incident is just that, one incident it should not alter your life and you should not be reminded of it ever day of your life."

"The appropriate consequence gives them an opportunity to learn from their mistake. ... Letting them off without holding them accountable for their actions is not guiding them appropriately. When the consequence is over you can tell them how much you respect them for handling the consequence maturely and appropriately."

In comment #60:

"For instance if a child breaks a curfew and is grounded for the next day or for the next weekend it makes a lot more sense and easier to accomplish than yelling at a child and grounding them for life. You know you can't follow through on something like that. The child is also aware before they break the curfew that they will give up going out the next night or the next weekend it is their choice and they know you will enforce that. So they are in essense choosing the consequence when choosing to break the rule. Even if you have to give up your night out and stay home with the child, you must enforce the consequence."

"...ask what he thinks would be an appropriate consequence for the action. You don't have to choose his consquence but allow him to have an opinion and be part of the process. ... when it is clear that you have each understood each other you can decide on a consequence."

#108

"Consequences do not equal torture. When a consequence is appropriate to an offense and especially when a child is involved in choosing the consequence they learn to make better choices. If they break curfew and they can't go out the next night I don't understand why you would see that as "torture" or suffering. It does not extract a pound of flesh, deny them of their sustenance, or effect their health or emotional well being. It teaches them that if you take advantage of a privilege you are at risk of losing those very same privileges."

IMHO, the above form of consequences is completely controlling in nature.

So, for the sake of knowing if this shitah is applicable to one working with their own child who is a teen at risk, I still ask if Sherree used this form of consequences and responsibility with her own children and if she found that they responded as respectfully and positively as her clients.

Respectfully yours, Sarah


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125. clarification     12/25/07 - 4:46 AM
Sarah W

Just to clarify, we are talking about using this shitah of consequences and accountability/responsibility from the time the child is young throughout his/her childhood and into and through the adolescent years until adulthood. Not starting to use the shitah from when the teen starts "asserting himself".


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126. Kudos     12/25/07 - 6:55 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Dear All:

True story: Last night I had a Yeshiva meeting in the home of a parent in our school. When I entered the house, the mother of my talmidim commented to me that her housework is a bit behind because she was reading all the comments posted on this column!

I would like to compliment all of you for your thoughtful and meaningful comments -- on this column and all others.

This validates my lifelong trust in 'we the people' to self-regulate and do the right thing. I ran my classroom that way all my teaching years and try to run this website in that manner -- stepping in from time to time when needed, but mostly trusting all of you to keep things civil and decent.

As you can imagine, many or most people told me that I would never be able to keep this site open to unscreened comments for more than a day or two. Well, it's almost a full year, and I am proud to say that I never needed to close the comment capacity.

That is a tribute to all of you and I am grateful for your participation.

Parenting is more challenging now than ever, and these discussions are most important.

I encourage all our readers to participate in our parenting forums -- you can find a link on each page of this site. Use it to post questions about any parenting matters that come to mind.

Once again, my thanks.

Yakov

BTW; I am speaking this morning at 11 am at the OU parenting conference in Passaic if any of you would like to attend. YH


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127. Control destroys relationships     12/25/07 - 8:57 AM
Dasi

"As Chana wrote in comment #71 (sorry, I gave the wrong number in my previous post), "...once the child starts to become a teenager, he may begin to see consequences as controlling. And, if that teen turns into an at-risk teen, you are going to have to tread very carefully."

Chana and Sarah W highlighted the essence of Choice Theory (taught to me by Devorah W). EXTERNAL CONTROL - consequenses as described by Sherree - DESTROYS RELATIONSHIPS! (One wonders where all of Sherree's OWN children are holding ?????) And as the original letter write communicated - they have an excellent relationship with their irrelgious son. Kol hakavod. Giving up controlling behaviors (such as destructive consequences outlined by Sherree) will resuscitate the relationship and everyone will get along better immediately. Parents who "control" become disconnected from their precious teens. Consequences imposed increases resentfullness, confrontation and power struggles. We all learn best from natural consequences - if I choose to speed, I'll get a ticket, if I choose to eat brownies all day, I'll gain weight, if I choose nag, blame, and punish (impose consequences) I risk damaging my parent/teen relationship. Our INFLUENCE on teens is much stronger when based on a meaningful and loving (and mutual) relationship.

TO the parents who wrote the letter: BH you have a loving relationship with your son. KEEP IT UP - there's nothing more powerful than authentic NONcontrolling UNconditional love. It sounds to me like you are doing everything right!


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128. Thanks Jay - you got it!     12/25/07 - 11:11 AM
Sherree Belsky,Director Kids Count Foundation

Wow it is interesting how people read the same thing and "choose" to interpret it differently. Here we go I will explain my own content and hope that everyone understands me this time:

IMHO:

Children should be raised with boundaries and guidelines, they need this to feel loved and cared for.

From the time they are small they should be raised on the premise of reward/privilege and consequence. This is not a form of external control this is called "parenting" and preparing them for the real world; teaching them to be accountable and responsible individuals.

I never said to start when teens are in the parsha and I never said to be "pro-active" with consequences. I said it is not fair to "spring" consequences on kids. I did say to have "house rules" so everyone is on the same page and everyone knows what the rules are. When a child chooses an action they should know what the consequence of that action will be and it should be fair and appropriate.

Understand that not every child is "At-Risk" and when children are brought up with unconditional love, good role modeling, and the concept of accountability and responsibility this is not a foreign nor unfair controling concept to them. This does not cause them to be "At-risk" because they have a healthy relationship with their parents and have a means of communication with them. Parents who have such a relationship with their children will spot problems and issues and if a child stops communicating with them as teens tend to do they will adjust to what that child needs out of love and respect to that child, as they adjust to what all their children need throughout the growing process.

As children grow and develop their needs change according to their age, development and maturity and your level of guidance and teaching changes as this occurs. Adjustments have to be made and rules need to be changed and renegotiated as this occurs. Obvioiusly a child's thought processes and input as a 4 year old is different and will not be as considered as that of a 13 or 15 year old. However at any level a child's need to be heard an understood is still important whether they are at-risk or not.

I also want to point out that when children become teenagers and begin to pull away they rarely accept anything a parent says. Parents are dumb and stupid and anything they say the same. However, if you write down everything you want your child to hear and you give it to your neighbor or your child's friends parent to say, it comes off as being brilliant. Because the friends parent is always way more cool, smart, chlled, and anything else better than you. And you should know that the friend thinks the same about you.

Choice Theory teaches us that we can't control anyone but ourselves. We can't change anyone but ourselves. This is true. But if you read Dr. Glasser's "Reality Therapy" you will understand that you must get involved with the other person and show that you care. He teaches his clients to live in the "real" world and be responsible and accountable for their own actions. If they work hard they will succeed in life and gain privileges and rewards that they work towards. If they mess up and make poor choices for themselves they bring upon themselves consequences. This does not mean torture, but it does mean a loss of privilege in some cases or whatever natural consequence that comes along with an action. If you choose to smoke you run the risk of lung cancer, that is the consequence. If you choose to depress and miss a days work you will lose a days pay, that is the consequence. As Jay said if you choose not to study for the test, you will not get the grade you wanted. If you choose to eat the box of chocolate, you will gain weight. It is your choice and you will have to deal with the results of your choice. That is reality.

Having rules or teaching them responsibility is not controling. Having consequences is not controlling. "if you don't bring the laundry down to the basement you will have to do it yourself" How is that controlling? That is a consequence. If you choose not to follow the rule of bringing the laundry down to the basement, you have the counsequence of doing your own laundry.

Some of you got on the tangent of "control" and "cruelty" and I don't know why you chose to interpret my words in that fashion.

IMHO and from my own experience as a parent breaking curfew is a very big deal. It happens to be very selfish and inconsiderate. Especially because of what can happen to a child at night out on the streets. If a child does not come home when they are supposed to, and they do not call for permission or in advance that they will be late, a parent is out of their mind with worry imagining all sorts of horrible scenarios from car accidents to abductions and worse. We worry about our spouses when they are late and expect them to call out of consideration why not teach, train and expect the same of the children. Again it is not controling to offer a consequence to a child for breaking curfew. It is very important to teach a child responsibility and consideration on this very important issue. Again when you are dealing with an at-risk child this won't work because they won't listen to you anyway, but if you are not, or until you get to that point it is a very important lesson in accountability and responsibility.

Last year I was at the pool and a mother was yelling at her child that if he "did that again" she was going to put him right back on the plane all by himself and send him home. Of course he kept doing it and she kept yelling at him. It became unbareable. I asked her how old the child was. He was only six but very tall for his age. He knew very well that his mother doesn't let him go anywhere by himself and would never ever put him on the plane by himself so he kept on doing whatever it was he was doing.

I explained to her that she was offering a consequence that she would never follow through on and he knew it so he was ignoring her. I suggested that she offer him something that she would actually do like take him upstairs for half an hour and sit with him or go to the table and chairs and sit there with him for half and hour so he would miss half and hour in the pool if he didn't stop. And she should say it calmly so he could hear her since he tuned her out when she yelled at him.

When she offered this consequence he looked at her, realized this is something she actually could and would do and stopped his inappropriate behavior. The rest of the afternoon was very pleasant because she stopped yelling at her son and her son and daughter had a great time swimming and making friends in the pool. This six year old made a choice. He realized that if he continued to choose the inappropriate behavior he would also choose to spend half hour outside the pool which he didn't want to do. He wanted to stay in the pool and have fun. So he chose to stop behaving inappropriately.

A few years ago a 15 year old at-risk client had a fight with his parent and broke a telephone. The parent took away his ipod. The child was devastated. He saved his own money to buy the ipod and wanted it back. I asked the parent when it would be returned and I couldn't get a concrete answer. The parent was still furious. I tried to explain the concept that this one incident should not destroy their entire relationship and that a consequence should have a beginning and an end. The parent should say when the ipod would be returned so the child could deal with it. The parent wouldn't and was holding it over the child's head. It became a battle with conditions. I drew up a contract and asked the parent what the conditions were. I finally calmed the parent down and convinced him that the child will be in charge of the parents conditions. We would write a contract that if the child followed the conditions for 3 days he would not only get the ipod back but I would buy him 2 accessories (minor cost). I printed out pictures of the accessories and dated the paper. He was holding the paper and calling me every night letting me know how the day went and telling me 2 more days till I get the ipod back, etc. He was able to deal with it knowing there was a time frame and the consequence will have an end.

The parent was being unreasonable but I had to come up with a solution to calm the fury. This particular solution worked for them. No one incident is worth ruining an entire relationship. But incidents need to be addressed so they can have the value of learning from them and then they must be put to rest.

With my own children I have always taught responsibility and accountability. I taught them from an early age how to apologize sincerely and how to communicate and stand up for what they believe in. I was always an advocate for them and always listened to both sides of the story. I did not fear going into the school/yeshiva system and advocate for my child. I had no problem confroting a teacher or Rebbe asking to hear their side of the story after hearing what my child said and clearing up the issue. I always got involved with the PTA and felt that if you want to have a say in what goes on in the school, get involved and know what is going on with the school. My kids always volunteered me for trips and school events.

I am a big proponent of writing notes and cards. On birthdays one card is never enough and although we always say it with humor I always stick in one or two very sincere cards and write a note of my own telling them (yes even my in-law children) how much I love them and respect them, how much I admire them for their accomplishments and how beautiful and handsom they are.

We always had kids over and no matter which room I went to for privacy my kids and their friends seemed to follow me. We always had an open house and my kids always had their friends over. We always knew who my kids' friends were. And if I can give anyone advice that is the greatest of parenting tools. Know who your children's friends are. Don't be afraid to be the home they gather in.

My children are grown and B"H I have beautiful grandchildren. My children know the art of accountability and responsibility. I respect, admire and appreciate every one of my children and in-law children. They are amazing. Hashem is very good to me. Even with my grandchildren I say "If you choose to whine and kvetch Bobby has to leave." It has become a big joke in our family. I ask the kids (the oldest is 5) "Do we whine and kvetch for Bobby?" and they say "Noooooooooooooooooo only for Mommys and Daddys" If they start whining I look at them and say "Are you whining for Bobby?" and they start laughing and say "No not me".

There was an incident a few months ago. I was in my office showing something to my daughter on the computer when her two year old daughter (my princess) walked in whining and crying. I looked at her and said "We don't cry for Bobby" she put her chin up and put her arm through my daughter's, stopped crying and said "I not crying for you I crying for MY MOMMY!". See its a matter of choice!!

I hope that this clears things up for all of you. I have explained my meaning and my intentions. I can't help if you read this and sift through this with a fine tooth comb looking for things to jump on, quote, misquote or misrepresent. Or take things out of context. That is also a matter of choice

Sherree


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129. Sarah W     12/25/07 - 11:25 AM
Jay

I see what you are saying- I saw "the other side" of Ms. Belsky's approach, but she also, as per the quotes you brought down, also supports parental intervention and discipline in the form of action-consequence. I will wait to see how Sherree responds.

As a parent, I personally don't believe that it's an either/or regarding parenting approach- I have seen successful happy families that use the "clear consequence" approach in a respectful manner (discussion, joint problem solving, child generated consequence, etc) and I have seen families that terribly misuse this approach. I am personally intrigued by choice theory, at least from what I am reading on this blog, but I don't think it is THE only way to raise happy, healthy, successful children. I am curious to hear what Sherree's opinion is on how she stands regarding this. I also appreciate the way you explained your position and your questions on Sherree's- that is a very respectful manner of interaction, and my position is that any child who sees their parent engaging in dialogue with respect to, and genuine interest in, their communication partner is quite a worthy role model for any teen (or adult!), at risk or not.

An aside to Dasi:

A statement such as "(One wonders where all of Sherree's OWN children are holding ?????)" is merely an indication of a problem concerning respect and communication skills on the part of the questioner. I give you full benefit of the doubt in that we all have our challenges, and some need to think twice and edit more than others, before offering responses. We all have areas that need effort, and I myself certainly have my work cut out for me regarding my own deficiencies. Please, in the future, try to refrain from hurling personal comments and juvenile implications regarding another poster's children.


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130. Sherree     12/25/07 - 11:27 AM
Jay

I see our comments have "crossed in the mail"! :)

I will read through yours now, and hopefully gain added clarification.


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131. Consequences     12/25/07 - 11:42 AM
Sherree Belsky

Just out of curiousity I would like to know how many of you give your children desert if they don't eat their meal. That happens to be a consequence. Is that controling?

Sherree


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132. Parenting     12/25/07 - 12:18 PM
Jay

Sherree, I have read through your comment, and deeply appreciate it. Although I feel bad that you needed to add personal details in order to satisfy other's curiosity, you did so with dignity and not in a defensive manner, and I appreciate that.

I am hearing different things about Choice Theory, from Sarah W, and others, and from Sherree. Sherree seems to feel that the proponents of Choice Theory believe in a practical application that seems to differ from that as presented by Sarah. Since reading is never an obstacle for a bookworm like myself, I plan on reading Dr. Glasser's books on choice theory and reality theory asap, to get a first hand handle of the theory, its underpinnings, and practical application.

My feeling here is that there are multiple nuanced shades of the word "consequence", and I would like to see how Dr. Glasser defines and applies it.

In my own family life, my tendency is to see things as Sherree does, and my children too are brought up with a clear understanding and appreciation of accountability and respect for others (aka house rules). Of course, I don't mean that others who bring children up differently don't encourage respect for others. For example, my children know what time supper is. If a child comes in late because he chose to finish shooting basketball hoops with a neighbor, he is aware that he will have to wait awhile until I am ready to serve, perhaps 15-30 minutes (if it is something that needs serving). I will be pleasant, say "Hi_____, I'll let you know when supper is ready", and that's that. He may be hungry and be less than beaming that he needs to wait, but he doesn't grumble, because he knows this is a clear house rule with a consequence. As stated previously, I call this cause and effect rather than consequence- if we come in late, we don't have supper right away. This was discussed at an earlier time in a pleasant, open discussion, and he was a reasonable, contributing participant in this.

Now of course, the above example can seem "natural", in that I may be truly involved in an activity that cannot be postponed, thus unable to serve a late supper upon demand, similar to- if you eat too much cake, you gain weight. No external involvement here. But to be perfectly honest, we do it in other types of areas as well.

Example: One of our children is more "active" than the others. We have worked hard to modify the environment such that he has ample outlets, as well as support and encouragement, for his activity (activity can make for a very productive human being!). At the Shabbos table, he is expected to participate for a specified amount of time. At times when he gets "the urge", he picks fights with the nearest sibling, mostly to get a rise out of them and "spice up" the environment. We are cognizant of his needs, and organize our meals accordingly. Nevertheless, throwing challah at his sister or kicking another child's ankles is not acceptable. We tell him, "____, if you choose not to participate now, you will need to leave the table and may not play with your stuff" (until the specified Shabbos table time is over). This is an imposed consequence. Yes, it wasn't sprung on him. He was a participant in the setting of the house rule, and fully understands it. And yes, the time required for him to sit at the table is minute, and not made arbitrarily. But we would like him to feel accountable for his actions, and understand that there are boundaries that need to be adhered to despite temptations. No, this doesn't sound like the choice theory as presented by Sarah W and others. But it does work for us.

I also think that it not only works for us, it is important in the raising of Torah Jews, who have an Authority and Torah to listen to. The concept of accountability, which is taught in different ways according to age and developing independence, seems indispensable to preparing a child for their Torah responsibilities. After all, we are not only accountable to ourselves, we are accountable to Hashem.

My apologies for the personal examples- I have presented them to get a reading from Choice Theory proponents on the blog as to what they think about Choice Theory versus teaching accountability.


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133.     12/25/07 - 2:38 PM
Jay

Getting back to the original article, I think the following point is the most precious of all:

"2) Please review my Mishpacha column, “Leaving The Door Open” for profound guidance that I received from one of our leading gedolim, who told a father in your situation to inform his child that he ought not feel disenfranchised from Hashem’s Torah and its eternal lessons just because he does not fully understand it all at the young age of seventeen – for growing close to Hashem and comprehending His Torah is a lifelong mission. You, as parents, can be most helpful in reframing your son’s ‘no’ to a ‘not yet.’"

This is an attitude that we can use toward ourselves, our children, and other individuals we interface with. Thank you R' Horowitz!


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134. clarification for Sherree     12/25/07 - 4:02 PM
Dasi

Just out of curiousity I would like to know how many of you give your children desert if they don't eat their meal. That happens to be a consequence. Is that controling? (from Sherree)

Sherree, Please reread the 1st two chapters of "For Parents and Teens". If your methods work, that's really wonderful, but please don't promote them as something they are NOT - Choice THeory. Yes, consequences as described above are controling.

From an article in the Journal of Reality Therapy - based on Choice theory: For a long time, when our society talked about discipline we meant consequences, both positive - (rewards) and negative -(removal of privileges). However, consequences are external discipline or sanctions. They are something we do to others or have done to us. COnsequences are about learning to please others or to stay out of their way, and they are both positive and negative "pay backs". This is not self-discipline.

Will continued consequences (maybe some threats and punishments as well) in a teens' life generate warm, loving feelings towards his/her parent OR anger, resentment , frustration and resistance? Which feelings will bring about a more connected relationship?


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135. Caring kids - Alfie Kohn     12/25/07 - 4:37 PM
Ak

Hi, Is accountability taking a consequence or is it doing teshuvah , making a commitment to be a better person and not just avoid punishment ?

DoesHillel's teaching ' do not do unto others , not apply to children - how about applying the same consequences to a spouse when the laundary is left on the flooor

Here are four approaches to changing behaviors and attitudes, presented in ascending order of desirability.

1. Punishing. A reliance on the threat of punishment is a reasonably good indication that something is wrong in a classroom, since children have to be bullied into acting the way the teacher demands. Apart from the disagreeable nature of this style of interaction - which cannot be disguised, incidentally, by referring to punishment as "consequences" - it is an approach distinguished mostly by its ineffectiveness. Decades of research have established that children subjected to punitive discipline at home are more likely than their peers to break rules when they are away from home.

Isolating a child from his peers, humiliating her, giving him an F, loading her with extra homework, or even threatening to do any of these things can produce compliance in the short run. Over the long haul, however, this strategy is unproductive.

Why? First, at best, punishment teaches nothing about what one is supposed to do - only about what one is not supposed to do. There is an enormous difference between not beating up one's peers, on the one hand, and being helpful, on the other.

Second, the child's attention is not really focused on the intended lesson at all ("pushing people is bad"), much less on the rationale for this principle, but primarily on the punishment itself. Figuring out how to get away with the misbehavior, how to avoid detection by an authority, is a perfectly logical response. (Notice that the one who punishes becomes transformed in the child's eyes into a rule-enforcer who is best avoided.) Social learning theory tells us that this attention to the punishment is also likely to teach the child to be punitive and thus exacerbate the behavior problems; a teacher's actions do indeed speak louder than words.

Finally, punishment breeds resistance and resentment. "The more you use power to try to control people, the less real influence you'll have on their lives," Thomas Gordon has written.(12) Since such influence is associated with helping children to develop good values, the use of power would seem ill-advised.

2. Bribing. There is no question that rewards are better than punishment. On the other hand, what these two methods share is probably more important than the respects in which they differ, and herein lies a tale that will be highly disconcerting to educators enamored of positive reinforcement.

Psychological - and particularly developmental - theory and research have come a long way since the simplistic behaviorism of the last generation, but many well-meaning teachers continue to assume that what works for training the family pet must be appropriate for shaping children's actions and values as well.

Gold stars, smiley faces, trophies, certificates, high grades, extra recess time, candy, money, and even praise all share the feature of being "extrinsic" to whatever behavior is being rewarded. Like sticks, carrots are artificial attempts to manipulate behavior that offer children no reason to continue acting in the desired way when there is no longer any goody to be gained. Do rewards motivate students? Absolutely. They motivate students to get rewarded. What they fail to do is help children develop a commitment to being generous or respectful.

In fact, the news is even worse than this. Not only is bribing someone to act in a particular way ultimately ineffective, but, like the use of threats, it can actually make things worse. Consider the effects of rewards on achievement. Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg recently summed up what a growing number of motivation researchers now concede: "Nothing tends to undermine creativity quite like extrinsic motivators do. They also undermine intrinsic motivation: when you give extrinsic rewards for certain kinds of behavior, you tend to reduce children's interest in performing those behaviors for their own sake."(13) Once we see ourselves as doing something in order to get a reward, we are less likely to want to continue doing it in the absence of a reward - even if we used to find it enjoyable.

Readers of the Kappan were first exposed to research demonstrating this phenomenon more than 15 years ago,(14) and the data have continued to accumulate since then, with some studies concentrating on how extrinsic motivators reduce intrinsic interest and others showing how they undermine performance, particularly on creative tasks.(15) A number of explanations have been proposed to account for these remarkably consistent findings. First, people who think of themselves as working for a reward feel controlled, and this lack of self-determination interferes with creativity. Second, rewards encourage "ego involvement" to the exclusion of "task involvement," and the latter is more predictive of achievement. Third, the promise of a reward is "tantamount to declaring that the activity is not worth doing for its own sake," as A. S. Neill put it;(16) indeed, anything construed as a prerequisite to some other goal will probably be devalued as a result.

What is true for academic learning also applies to behavior. A little-known series of studies has pointed up the folly of trying to encourage prosocial behavior through the use of extrinsic incentives. Children who received rewards for donating to another child - and, in another experiment, adults who were paid for helping a researcher - turned out to be less likely to describe themselves in words suggesting intrinsic motivation to help than were people who received nothing in return.(17) In another study, women offered money for answering a questionnaire were less likely to agree to a similar request two or three days later, when no money was involved, than were women who had not been paid for helping with the first survey.(18)

The implication is that, when someone is rewarded for prosocial behavior, that person will tend to assume that the reward accounts for his or her actions and thus will be less likely to help once no one is around to hand out privileges or praise. Indeed, elementary school students whose mothers believed in using rewards to motivate them were less cooperative and generous than other children in a recent study.(19) Such findings are of more than theoretical interest given the popularity of Skinnerian techniques for promoting generosity in schools. A recent New York Times article described elementary schools where helpful children have their pictures posted in hallways, get to eat at a special table in the cafeteria, or even receive money.(20) Such contrivances may actually have the effect of undermining the very prosocial orientation that their designers hope to promote.

3. Encouraging commitment to values. To describe the limitations of the use of punishments and rewards is already to suggest a better way: the teacher's goal should not be simply to produce a given behavior - for example, to get a child to share a cookie or stop yelling - but to help that child see himself or herself as the kind of person who is responsible and caring. From this shift in self-concept will come lasting behaviors and values that are not contingent on the presence of someone to dispense threats or bribes. The child has made these behaviors and values his or her own.

A student manipulated by currently fashionable behavioral techniques, however, is unlikely to internalize the values underlying the desired behaviors. At the heart of Assertive Discipline, for example, is control: "I want teachers to learn that they have to take charge," Lee Canter explained recently.(21) I don't. I want children to become responsible for what they do and for what kind of people they are. The teacher has a critical role to play in making sure that this happens; in criticizing manipulative approaches I am not suggesting that children be left alone to teach themselves responsibility. But the teacher ought to be guided less by the need to maintain control over the classroom than by the long-term objective of helping students to act responsibly because they understand that it is right to do so.

I will have more to say below about strategies for facilitating this internalization, but first I want to mention a version of this process that I believe is even more desirable - the ideal approach to helping children become good people.

4. Encouraging the group's commitment to values. What the first two approaches have in common is that they provide nothing more than extrinsic motivation. What the first two share with the third is that they address only the individual child. I propose that helpfulness and responsibility ought not to be taught in a vacuum but in the context of a community of people who learn and play and make decisions together. More precisely, the idea is not just to internalize good values in a community but to internalize, among other things, the value of community.

Perhaps the best way to crystallize what distinguishes each of these four approaches is to imagine the question that a child is encouraged to ask by each. An education based on punishment prompts the query, "What am I supposed to do, and what will happen to me if I don't do it?" An education based on rewards leads the child to ask, "What am I supposed to do, and what will I get for doing it?" When values have been internalized by the child, the question becomes "What kind of person do I want to be?" And, in the last instance, the child wonders: "How do we want our classroom (or school) to be?"

*


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136.     12/25/07 - 4:44 PM
Anonymous

My feeling, after reading many of these comments, is that teaching accountability and responsibility in a normal, loving, and warm family setting is healthy and produces healthy, happy children. Choice Theory (I've read the excerpts on bn.com, although it will take a few days for the book itself to come) seems to be of an alternative approach for those who have already been damaged by controlling parents/others.

Hashem gave us Mitzvos, and told us we will get "punished" for disobeyal. Obviously, there are more positive ways to guide today's children in loving and upholding Torah. But the concept still stands, and on some level, must be understood at some point in development- consequences for our actions. Loving, caring, and in the context of positive support and guidance to bring out the best in all of our children, and scaffold them to independence and an individual sense of accountability. For children at risk, because of a myriad of unhealthy factors (possibly home, possibly school, possibly personality disorders, etc etc), another approach is needed. I hope parents understand that Dr. Glasser is not Torah, and his ideas and word are not final on the concept of parenting, but represent one approach that may well be viable in appropriate circumstances.

One prevalent mistake I have seen repeatedly here: Teaching the concept of consequences does not translate to "controlling behavior"!! I myself was brought up with clear guidelines and boundaries, and I would never refer to my parents as controlling! They knew how to guide each child 'al pi darko', and we grew up with a clear idea of responsibility, accountability, and right and wrong as seen in light of Torah values. We always came first in our parents' eyes, and their loving guidance and wise way of encouraging us to make independent decisions when appropriate age-wise helped us all become productive, creative, and happy adults. So please, it's so important not to be simplistic on the issues of concepts such as consequence! Take what you feel important from Dr. Glasser, as I intend to, but don't lose sight of good parenting and common sense!

As an aside regarding "practical application", Dasi, you didn't answer Mrs. Belsky's question. She didn't ask a philosophical question, she asked a practical one. Do you or do you not offer dessert to a child who has not eaten of their meal? Can they say, 'no thanks to everything else, but I'll take the dessert'? I am also curious as to what your answer is regarding this.


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137.     12/25/07 - 4:45 PM
Jay

I wrote the previous comment, but neglected to fill in my name.


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138. a few thoughts     12/25/07 - 4:53 PM
Anonymous

From the time they are small they should be raised on the premise of reward/privilege and consequence. This is not a form of external control this is called "parenting"

Having rules or teaching them responsibility is not controling. Having consequences is not controlling. "if you don't bring the laundry down to the basement you will have to do it yourself" How is that controlling? That is a consequence. If you choose not to follow the rule of bringing the laundry down to the basement, you have the counsequence of doing your own laundry

I agree with Dasi's previous comment. It seems we all agree on the importance of a quality relationship between teens and their parents. The definition of external control (according to Choice Theory) is trying to get someone to do what YOU want them to do.

Jay - I admire your determination to learn more about CT. I agree with Chana, For Parents and Teens is an excellent first book.

May we all have Yiddishe Nachas from our children and teens regardless of which method we find most effective.


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139. AK     12/25/07 - 5:06 PM
Jay

AK,

Please remember that Chazal tell us to give children sweets so they will study Torah. No matter how beautifully and artfully ideas are packaged and presented, they are not Torah.

The concept of reward and punishment is intrinsic to Judaism, although there are wise ways of conveying these concepts. But to say that the very concept of reward and punishment is extrinsic and contrary to healthy life is simply not in consonance with the true reality- the reality that we are all accountable to Hashem.

One doesn't need to rely on the well articulated theories you espouse in order to facilitate the internalization of the values underlying desired behaviors. Although this era may require different chinuch techniques than yesteryear, in light of a myriad of environmental, societal, and individual changes, the theories you present are not necessarily THE best approach, although they may be excellent options for some.

Please remember the concept of Schar V'Onesh, which emanates from Hashem Himself. We need to guide our children wisely, with an abundance of love and positive support. Some families may need options such as your theories to remediate already damaged circumstances, but for the average, loving, and wise setting, see R' Wolbe for chinuch guidance that resonates with Torah values.


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140.     12/25/07 - 5:56 PM
yoni

I will point out that torah clearly states that focusing on reward and punishment is a way of looking at things only suitable for extremely young children and the mentaly and emotionaly incompetent. Torah further informs us that to hit a child with whom you can reason is expressly forbiden because it is a "stumbling block". Past this age one may only reason with him, one may not punish him, and I have seen numerous sources that state that all punishments are included under "rod" and are therefore forbiden past this age.

The question is, why? Because ultimately, like torah understood long ago, reward and punishment are not enough. One has to learn to follow mitzvos because of ahava and yirah. Yirah does not mean "fear" (pachad) it means "awe". Children are to do mitzvos because A they are in awe of g-d, and B because they love him. Torah recognizes that this is the ONLY way to ensure that he will not depart from it, even when he grows old, and it is to this direction that he should instruct him "l'phi darko".

This age is given as younger than thirteen in anycase. Some children reach it at older ages, and some and younger ages. However, all are considered capable of rational thought by the age of 13 for boys, and 12 for girls. Younger than this age (what ever it is for a particular child) a child can be quite difficult to control, because they cannot properly internalize the feelings of another, empathize with them, and predict their feelings in a proactive way. At the point where the child knows that they are making you unhappy, and they do it anyway, without outside forces coercing them (pain, etc) you have already lost the fight.

ANd that, I suppose, is where love comes in. IF you love the child, and are fair to the child, and are wise, answering the child's questions, being upright, and generaly someone whom the child can respect and be very proud of, without recourse to justifications, and your child feels and knows that they love you, then they will not disobay you, and further, with the right instruction, they will generalize this feeling to hashem and the will feel like hashem loves him, cares about him and that he is a wonderfull "person" worth serving and having a relationship with.

This feeling has to be taught to the child from his very youngest days. Mistakes need to be owned up to and appologized to the child, (as I saw on a poster once, thne he will know that its ok to make a mistake, and all he has to do is try harder next time, and he doesn't have fear admiting to an error, or fear it, and therefore it does not have to control him.) and above all one has to have a sense of fairness, control, kindness, love, and everything else. I know I'm not a parent, but I beleive very firmly that it is important to give your child lots of hugs when they're still under your roof. Not for doing anything right, not even just because you saw them for the first time after a while, but just simply because. And while your at it, tell them "I love you" and mean it, not just in a prefuctory way. Clear your mind, focus on the child, look at him or her, and say it with all your heart, focusing on the child as your sole attention for those few moments. Touch is, after all, one of the most basic ways we learn that we are loved, from birth till death. When they tell you something, listen to them, don't just brush them off. Turn your entire attention to them for that moment, and don't think of anything else whatsoever (unless of course your little ADHD accidently upsets the dishes in the counter and topples the pile and shatters half of the on the floor, or some other emergancy, and even then if you can ask your spouse to handle it.) and just listen. Listen to them talk, ramble or what ever. When you're in the car, please, please, use it to talk to your kids if you can, and have a conversation, not to listen to the radio talk show. Thank them and generaly show you appriciate them.

And the other thing you need to teach the child is empathy. Once your child can proactively sympathize with other peoples pain, they will not do things that violate it, if they have any sense of decency what so ever. I'm not really sure how you teach empathy, although I suspect cuddling them when they're crying, or hurt, or giving more than a prefunctory kiss to a boo boo are key, but also validating their feelings, and when they do something inconsiderate, don't just yell, take them aside privately for a second, and talk to them about what they did, and ask them if they understood that it was wrong. Ask them to tell you what they made the other person feel. If they can't just say it, help them. Doing this each time they do something inconsiderate will probably increase their awareness of it. (even with ADHDs, I know this from personal experience, it just takes mountains and mountains of paitence, and occasionaly a pillow to scream in to and beat your head on. [and I know it because I was the ADHD, not the one talking to him] I'm not sure my mother would agree with me).

Other than this I'm not sure, but for instance, if he does something thats a sin, talk to him, and encourage him to imagine what hashem would feel like when he does something that hashem doesn't want him to. And when you do, steer him away from angry responses, because those indicate the child still hasn't gained empathy. Talk about how you feel when your children don't do as you asked (hint, if anger is your first feeling at someone you love in such an instance, then you have serious problems and need a big cheshbon hanefesh. The healthy response is hurt, and pain, preferably for the good of the child, not anger. anger is a extremely wicked trait and never acceptable. frustration is ok, but outright anger is not, although frustration should be sublimated in some other way than beating your fist in to a pillow. For little kids thats ok, and for an adult if that's the only way one can deal with it I suppose do what you have to, but idealy you should be dealing with it in less violent ways, because violence even against inanimate objects can be a problem. Diaries are great.)

and do I think I could do this as a parent? I don't know. I sure hope so. But I do firmly think that it would go a long way to helping our children stay both with us and with torah.


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141. Jay     12/25/07 - 6:05 PM
Ak

Hi, Please refer to the articles here Coercision is not chinuch , the neccessity of choice , Dr Sorotzkin on the dangers of competition and rewards. I once asked Rav Wolbe daughter about consequences , before I could finish my sentence , she asked what about chinuch. Dr Srotzkin quotes Deci and Ryan , the researchers who have shown the negative impact that extrinsic motivation has on intrinsic motivation . Rewards motivate kids to get more rewards , nothing more. I have discussed Kohn with my Rabbis - 2 Charedi Rosh Kollelim and Rosh kehilot in Israel and they are impressed. Kohn wrote a book Beyond discipline , moving from compliance to community . If you read the introduction of reb Shimon's Sha'arei Yosher , you will see a that his definition of kedusha is just that , that one's actions should be for the benefit of the community. WE are great at producing ' introjets ' , the important thing is behavor , chitzoniyus , externalities , with very little refletion or internalization of values. When you are dealing with children , we are dealing with their perceptions - Rav Wolbe says if a kid is likely to respond rebelliously to a punishment or any consequence , you are liable for lifnei Iveir and that applies to a kid at the age of 3. By the way there is no shachar and Onesh in this world and even in the world to come , your reward is essentially what you have made of yourself. I can assure you that most people are frum , not because of reward and punishment , most people have intrinsic motivation because they love Torah , it is an unconditional love irrespective of how tough life is , you have free will and you have to internalize the concepts of reward and punishment. Rav Horowiitz , I think it was he that said , a conditional and contingent parent will convey a message that Hashem is conditional and contingent , so how do you expect a kid to develop a relationship with Hashem , that Hashem cares and loves him. One can provew any parenting method from the Torah and I have read a letter from a "Ram ' here in Israel espousing punitive discipline with many proofs. His view of children is different to mine. Jay , I have never dismissed some idea I have read because it was written by a Goy , if the idea is correct I can find proofs for it if I want to. IMHO Kohn is the most Jewish parenting book I have read , he deals with chinuch in a profound way. You have asked a legitimate question about rewards , in reality do they have long term benefits . No Check the Dr Sorotzkin article.


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142.     12/25/07 - 6:48 PM
Jay

Yoni,

" will point out that torah clearly states that focusing on reward and punishment is a way of looking at things only suitable for extremely young children and the mentaly and emotionaly incompetent. Torah further informs us that to hit a child with whom you can reason is expressly forbiden because it is a "stumbling block"

Of course. A focus on reward and punishment is not Chinuch. That does not negate the concept of ultimate schar v'onesh (which I assume all of us believe in here). Not a method of chinuch! But the concept is not evil, or "bad", and age-appropriate accountability, in conjunction with fostering and facilitating a desire in the child to make good choices in life, is appropriate and proper. At least from my perspective here.

And absolutely, hitting is not a form of chinuch. Chas V'shalom that hitting should EVER be part of the "educational" dynamic. I'm not sure how this relates to our discussion or to the concept of accountability, though.

AK,

What you say regarding R' Wolbe is correct. I am glad that you turn to other sources, in order to gain perspective and temper the "one approach" dogma. And absolutely, coercion, and focus on reward and punishment, is not Chinuch.

And of course, wisdom from a gentile may be wonderful indeed (not to mention that the name Kohn at least leads me to suspect that Mr. Kohn is Jewish, but this is irrelevant here). As someone involved in higher education, I have gleaned wonderful knowledge from a myriad of sources. That is unrelated to the issue of how Chazal taught us to "entice" our children with sweets when they are young, or Torah values.

I see my "plainly written" words are being distorted and misinterpreted, I assume unintentionally. Philosophy will never replace good, loving, and wise parenting, no matter how prettily packaged.

I will sign off here, and hope that parents who are reading the blog have gained from a broader perspective of parenting than an approach limited to the latest, name brand "gurus".

I hope to join other discussions, but for this one, I have said what needs to be said, and feel no need to draw this out further. I intend no disrespect- I certainly will read any responses carefully, but I think my own perspective has been presented clearly enough, and needs no belaboring. I am confident that parents exploring how to improve their parenting philosophy and methodology will look to vibrant and successful real-life families as mentors in this delicate task, in addition to reading up on the many "theories" (which I like to do as well)that abound in our generation.

I have enjoyed this stimulating dialogue- thank you to all, and especially to the parents who have shared their insight, experiences, and helpful suggestions.


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143. PS to Yoni     12/25/07 - 6:52 PM
Jay

Yoni, I failed to point out in my last comment- your parenting ideas are beautiful and practical, and with your insight, I think you would make a very thoughtful, loving, and wise parent, G-d willing!


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144. jay     12/25/07 - 7:04 PM
yoni

talk is cheap.

lots of people mouth great sentiments and do something else entirely. As yet I stand unproven, and I see no demonstrative as to why I would distinguish myself in the annals of parenthood; I have problems, serious ones, and certainly I am alarmed enough by my difficult relationships with my family, which tend to corrolate very well with how one is as a parent, much more so than the qualities as one is. As I said, doing such a thing in the face of the high emotion that comes with parents is entirely different and unrelated to the relm of thought.

But I am appriciative of the praise for my thinking and ideas, very much so.


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145. jay     12/25/07 - 7:14 PM
yoni

talk is cheap.

lots of people mouth great sentiments and do something else entirely. As yet I stand unproven, and I see no demonstrative as to why I would distinguish myself in the annals of parenthood; I have problems, serious ones, and certainly I am alarmed enough by my difficult relationships with my family, which tend to corrolate very well with how one is as a parent, much more so than the qualities as one is. As I said, doing such a thing in the face of the high emotion that comes with parents is entirely different and unrelated to the relm of thought.

But I am appriciative of the praise for my thinking and ideas, very much so.

oh, one other thing, It would probably be a good practice to record at least ten things your child did that day to make you proud, for each child in your diary with other things. It will probably increase your feelings of love for the child and pride in the child's good traits, and this will show to the child. Also mention regret for times you've failed the child and how you can do better, this will hopefully encourage more forward thinking of you and encourage you to focus on them, and as an added bonus, if the child should one day find the diary filled with praises of them and their siblings (and be carefull that the number of praises should at least feel equal), it will not only encourage their love for their parents, but if said child shows it to an at risk child (Cv"SH) (who possibly might steal the diary just to spite, although at that point you've done something seriously wrong) then hopefully it will act as a testiment to how much you do love the child, even if you're struggling to show it.


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146. yoni and jay     12/25/07 - 8:25 PM
tb

Well put, Jay. Yoni, it's very interesting how self-aware you are and I guess I just want to say to you with regard to parenting that--you never know with it. You could be the "textbook" pattern-repeater or it could just go well. Sometimes, as we've read here and as we know, the people from great backgrounds still mess up.


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147. Accountability without consequences     12/26/07 - 12:13 AM
Ak

Hi, IMHO there is a lack of understanding of what it means to be accountable. Most people only reflect on the fine , consequence and punishment , what eas done to them and not how their behavior impacted on others In all the egs Sheree brought , the message was - if you do this , this will happen to you - focus on consequences for you , not problem solving the issue at hand , not reflecting on how the behavior itself impacts on others. When we use consequences rarely they are more effective , but it is still not chinuch

Accountability is owning up to ones mistakes, admitting doing wrong , apologizing, making resitiution etc .In CPS - colaborative problem solving approach, this takes places IMHO at the end of the problem solving process , where the child has a vision and a commitment to the future , which is taking resposibility for the future and can then reflect back and then make an aplogy etc. There is a very different quality to the apology of a thief who has stolen and then said sorry , to a person who was a thief , changed himself on the inside and with remorse and regret apologizes. The apology of the thief would be more ' saying the words ' , rather than remorse and true commitment to become a different human being. Vidui comes at te end of the Teshuva process , when we have new perceptions and then reflect on the past , our regret and remorse is on a different level Most approaches which are based on punishment and consequences have accountability , you must pay the price at the beginning. This has little impact on internal change as they say in my parts about traffic fines having no impact on drivers because they go laughing all the way to the bank. If you have paid the fine , served your term , it is enough , you don't have to change , that is why some kids like consequences , it absolves them from change , the resolve is not to get caught again


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148. Creativity and coercision     12/26/07 - 12:26 AM
Ak

The desert ?

I try to find creative ways , educate my child on healthy eating , let him participate in planning meals before resorting to coercision if it was a ' 10' issue , so I don't force my kid to finish his food before he gets desert . I would not do it to an older kid or my wife. It is humiliating , disrespectful , a way I would not liked to be treated. Chinuch is getting the kid to reflect on the issue , that his behavior becomes ' intentional ' reflecting values not fear of punishment or going for the reward. Problem solving has nothing to do with permissive parenting , it is about chinuch.


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149.     12/26/07 - 12:50 AM
Anonymous

Sherree, Please reread the 1st two chapters of "For Parents and Teens". If your methods work, that's really wonderful, but please don't promote them as something they are NOT - Choice THeory. Yes, consequences as described above are controling.

Dasi, once again you are misquoting and misinterpreting. I said I use the tools that I learned from Dr. Glasser and I am a proponent for Choice Theory and that I insist that all my clients read it, however I never said that all my methods are "coaching" methods and that I stick to it exclusively. I haven't had the luxury of experiencing that all my clients were coachable and I worked very hard with them before they entered the coaching arena. Most of which were parents not children.

"From an article in the Journal of Reality Therapy - based on Choice theory"

Dasi you didn't mention if Dr. Glasser, in fact, wrote that article that you quoted.

"Will continued consequences (maybe some threats and punishments as well) in a teens' life generate warm, loving feelings towards his/her parent OR anger, resentment , frustration and resistance? Which feelings will bring about a more connected relationship?"

Once again Dasi, it seems that you did not read what I wrote or choose not to understand me (threats and punishments as well). Why are you not quoted me as saying "you must keep the lines of communications open" why did you not copy "discussing what you could have done to bring about a different outcome" or "loving our children no matter what and not witholding love because we do not like what they do, or what they wear"?

Where did I ever speak about threatening a child? Raising a child with unconditional love, advocating for them, keeping an open home where they feel comfortable bringing their friends, teaching them responsibility and accountability. Giving them a clear understanding of the rules so everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion promotes a warm and loving relationships.

Why you choose to describe my methods or my opinion in a tone that makes it sound barbaric is beyond my comprehension. It is as if we are not speaking the same language. Would you also allow your children to walk in front of a car or put their hands in the fire? Is it also their choice to just do that with out any guidelines or bounaries. Should they also go to sleep whenever they please or eat as much candy or fat that they choose knowing it will make them ill? If there is beer in the fridge, is it ok for them to partake at any age (let me be very specific and clear, I am not talking about an at-risk teen)? Is it their choice? Would it be controlling to stop them? Where do you draw the line? There is a difference between being controling and doing your job as a parent. As I said earlier, as a child develops and matures their need for you to be their teacher and guide them changes and adjustments are made accordingly. But they develop and mature with your help and guidance, because of what you taught them.

There are just not enough hours in the day to keep this up. I had a client that came to me for Shalom Bayis issues. No matter how much I tried to point out to him his wife's perspective, no matter how much I begged him to go to shiurim on Shalom Bayis given by the most well known experts, no matter how many times I suggested he learn with a chavrusa, no matter how many articles I sent him or books I suggested he read. No matter how much information I brought back for him from lectures I myself went to on his behalf, he just twisted everything around to make his wife the villain and justify and quilify his stance.

After working very hard on this case with members of his family, his wife, and two of his Rebbeim. We came to the obvious conclusion that his need to be "rignt" superceded his need to succeed and his need to be happy.

It would seem, since you ignore my meaning and written word, that your need to be right is much stronger than my need to be understood. So be right! Kol Hakovod.


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150. # 135     12/26/07 - 1:21 AM
Sherree

That is an amazing thesis. The only thing that I would like to comment is that children need to be reached and guided on a level of their understanding. I agree with you that threats and bribes are not a good option but I don't agree with you that trained, qualified and educated teachers are still using these concepts. There are many, many wonderful teachers that have complete control and maintain respect in the classroom. They have also implemented rules and guidelines in the classroom, however they are involved with the children and the children know this and are connected to these educators. Of course there are others who don't get it and do harm to our kids.

My point is that your concept will work for some age groups but not for all, because the minds and brains of children are not capable at all ages to follow these concepts. As children get used to doing good things and getting rewards and the rewards at the right age can be praise or discussion about "don't you feel so good and special about helping your friend? You are such a mitzva girl!" You can step it up and lessen the material rewards into the more emotional or social reward. By the same token a consequence of an action can be explained not as a vicious act of punishment or degradation but simply as the result of that action which when a child is very young usually consists of a "time out" for a five minutes and an explanation that "so and so will not want to play with you if you keep taking toys away from her, or if you hit her. Please think about what else you could do if you want to play with the same toy while you are in time out."

I don't consider this "controling" behavior because to me this is guidance and teaching and that is necessary for a child's development. I call this consequence. There are basic rules and guidelines in life, in school and at home. These rules must be taught and explained.

There are many ways in which a parent or teacher can be controling when they don't allow a child to enjoy the freedoms appropriate to the child's age and ability. Putting out a child's clothes each morning when they are perfectly capable of choosing their own clothes is being utterly controling. Obviously when a child is no longer in pre-school and you are still choosing their friends for them, there is a problem.

And yes AK, being responsible and accountable means that you acknowledge your actions and what you need to do about them, whether they affected you or others. Its about doing a cheshbon hanefesh and see where improvements need to be made and/or giving yourself credit for a job well done. And yes your spouse is also required to be responsible and accountable it is not a requirement reserved for children, it is for all of human kind.

S


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151. #149 For some reason my name didn't come up     12/26/07 - 1:41 AM
Sherree Belsky


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152. In Response     12/26/07 - 1:59 AM
Sherree Belsky

AK,

You haven't answered the question about desert, your answer was double talk. The question was do you give your child desert if he doesn't eat his meal, not if he doesn't finish his meal. So you are still sidestepping and doing a tap dance around me. I have no more time or strength for fencing.

Yoni,

You won me over. I don't know how old you are, but I have the utmost respect for you. Had I read your response first, I wouldn't have bothered to stay up this late to compose the last replies. I truly feel that you have tremendous insight, experience and knowledge and you also possess chessed and companssion. There is a lot you can teach both parents and children whether they are in the parsha or not. And I know that you are also willing to learn. So I don't feel that I need to be here any longer. I agree with Jay, I have said what I needed to say. I have given of myself, I have spoken of my experience, shared my knowlege, voiced my opinion, explained, re-explained, over and over to the point of defending my misread and misquoted words.

The original question was "Should we keep our at-risk child at home?" and I hope I helped the writer in some way with her issues. I also hope that I have helped other readers in some small ways. For those who do not understand my methods, we will just have to agree to disagree. Much Hatzlocha to you in your work and if your methods work for you Kol Hakovod may you be zoche to help hundreds of children through your methods, as I will continue with the help of Hashem to help anyone that he sends my way.

Sherree


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153. Sheree     12/26/07 - 5:54 AM
Ak

In plain English - I give desert You did not answer my question - do you give your husband a consequence and refuse to do his laundary , I know women who don't problem solve when their husbands don't behave but give them a consequence , they don't go somewhere . Check the parenting forum here - my resources


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154. AK     12/26/07 - 10:47 AM
Sherree Belsky

Although I signed off, I will answer your very rude post and end with that.

Firstly you did not say you would give desert in your first answer "I try to find creative ways , educate my child on healthy eating , let him participate in planning meals before resorting to coercision if it was a ' 10' issue , so I don't force my kid to finish his food before he gets desert . I would not do it to an older kid or my wife." So plain English is a nice change, and your second answer differs from your first.

Secondly I did not question whether you would "do it" to an older child or a spouse who is perfectly capable of choosing to eat whatever they wish.

In addition, this is a forum on Parenting and not Shalom Bayis. Asking me what I personally do in regard to my spouse is ridiculously rude and invasive. You asked me if accountability and responsibility holds true for a spouse as well and I answered you in the afirmitative that it holds true for everyone. I would add at this point that I agree with other posters, especially for Yiddin. Marriage is 100% committment to our spouses and we are responsible and accountable in that relationship. If there are issues in that relationship they should be addressed and worked on.

Again I will tell you AK you have no right to ask me, or anyone else who is not hiding like yourself behind anonymity, what is going on in their personal lives and to freely share and talk about any personal issue that might be going on within their own personal daled amos. That is crossing over the line of common decency and courtesy which was already explained in this thread.

If you were to discuss a personal issue between yourself and your wife, and you signed your name to it, would your wife be comfortable knowing that over 2,000 readers now know about that particular issue? Would your wife be comfortable knowing that, for instance that you don't mention her participation in the child rearing or even, meal planning? It sounds like you are superman doing everything yourself. If we were to ask you how your wife feels about that, and what your wife does, and what part she plays in all this knowing who you are and thereby knowing who she is, how would that make her feel?

This is no longer about different means and methods. As I wrote to Dasi this is about the need to be right.

So I did the best that I could here and hope that whoever wished to understand what I had to convey did. I have no wish to repeat myself again and argue with others. Posts that bait and provoke arguments and responses to misquotes are controling.

I will continue working as I have because it has proven to be effective and I have had much hatzlocha and nachas from my clients.

Hatzlocha to all!

Sherree Belsky Director Kids Count Foundation


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155. Ohev shalom v'rodef shalom...     12/26/07 - 12:35 PM
Anonymous

To Sherree,

In my opinion, AK's question regarding your spouse was completely rhetorical. He/she wasn't asking you to answer the question directly, rather to explain -- according to your extensive opinions and the derech you have been pushing and defending through thick and thin on this posting, -- WHY you (obviously) would not ask your spouse to do this when you seem to say that the derech of accountability/consequences is applicable at least all the way through adolescence. If so, AK was asking, then at what point and according to what signs do you decide that this derech is no longer applicable?

AK stated very clearly that the derech of chinuch that he follows begins when the child can begin to reason and think rationally and that it is applicable from that point on for the rest of the child/parent relationship throughout life.

Additionally, when you originally asked your question regarding dessert, it was understood -- at least by me -- that your question was rhetorical and you were just trying to point out a situation where you felt AK's derech chinuch would not be able to stand. However, you were just as rude as you claim AK is being here by forcing the issue and pushing him/her into giving an answer to a question that should have remained rhetorical.

Regarding "hiding behind anonymity" I find it just as degrading to keep seeing your title and qualifications every time you write a post. It is as though you are trying to say "I'm the expert -- so don't question me." This has also become the message between the lines in your later posts. When R' Horowitz, shlita posts a blog, he doesn't even use his title as a Rav -- not to mention the fact that this is his website that is hosting our "conversations". Neither does R' Twersky mention his qualifications or titles. These blogs are meant to be a sharing of information. It is not necessary for one to bare himself by name and in some cases, not even advisable. Some of us have kids who surf the web and don't need them to find that their mom or dad posted their life to viewers around the world. Those who choose not to expose themselves completely are not less knowledgeable and do not have less worthy opinions. Some of the best information on this thread I got from parents who only introduced themselves by their first names or initials.

Most of the bloggers here are not trying to judge one another -- they are just to learn from one another, to make some sort of sense from the mess they find themselves in -- and find answers -- regarding their children's chinuch. There is no reason to become defensive or pushy about one's own derech or opinions once they have been stated. Questions and queries should be worded respectfully and can be answered equally as respectfully without bad feelings. It is such a shame that this blog turned into such a mud-slinging match since there is so much good and helpful information in the first three quarters of the posts. As adults, one would hope and expect that we could discuss these critical issues in the spirit that Rav Horowitz, shlita intended when he gave us the gift of this powerful tool.

I have tried to be firm and not rude in making my point here, but in the case that I have hurt someone, I do apologize in advance.

In the hope that we will learn from our mistakes and future posts will not have to end in such controversy and bad feelings.

Kol tuv and much hatzlachah to all.


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156.     12/26/07 - 12:46 PM
Anonymous

"Ohev shalom v'rodef shalom" is something you should practice, not just put in as a subject title while at the same time continue the poisonous barbs like a kid trying to make a "shtuch".

I also agree that this thread had "controversy and bad feelings" but to point to Sherree as the culprit is laughable.

Although there has been some interesting talk here about interesting theories, Sherree has been among the few that actually spoke common sense. The most hurtful, degrading, and inappropriate comments came from other posters who felt threatened that their 'creme de la creme' theory might not hold up in real life against basic good parenting skills.

Shame on you for putting down such an altruistic woman- you should apologize.


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157.     12/26/07 - 1:29 PM
yoni

can we please write nicely and just all say sorry for being not-nice to each other? Please?

lets forget about blame for a moment and just appologize for hurting other peoples feelings.

ok?

would that work?


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158. Apology     12/26/07 - 1:39 PM
Ak

Sheree, I should have reframed the question better . I am not interested in asking you how these methods work for your children or your clients or your relationships within your family. I have been trying to make a point - that being conditional and contingent , imposing consequences , firstly has got nothing to do with accountability , at most a kid will do a cost-benefit analysis , but more important the same reason that one is not conditional in one;s relationship with one;s spouse or friends , the same goes for our kids. So when a spouse or an older child makes bad food choices , I will try and problem solve and educate , help them to find ways to eat healthy and still enjoy their food . I won't say , you won't get desert if you don't eat salad. Young kids deserve the same treatment , they have their own tastes and this needs to be respected . Most situations are a long way from ' force 10' to desrve manipulation and coercision The mishnah says that the honour of your talmid should be dear to you as your own honor , or as Hillel says ; don't do to others etc - imposed consequences or asking a kid to choose his consequence IMHO is coercision and disrespectful. Why not problem solve , empathize with the kid, validate his feelings , ask him to put his concerns on the table , put your concerns on the table , define the problem and together look for solutions , rather different from - if you continue to do this , this will happen to you and usually in most cases what happens is some imposed consequence , external controls , being judgemental and that is what rewards and punishments are all about , is being judgmental. I understand the behaviorist position that you express , but to say that this is what choice theory is about or that conditional parenting promotes relationships is a contradiction in terms. I once challenged an ADHD doctor , he recommended the importance of one on one time , why , because this would help you be more effective with your rewards and punishments , so keeping the lines of communication open or any other techniques is to serve the purpose of kids becoming more compliant and doing what you ask them to do, to understand that they have done something serious and broken a rule and the right thing is to take reponsibility and bear the consequence , serve your time. When you are small you get time-out , when you are older you are grounded and of course the kid chose to be grounded ! For younger kids , there is a more respectable and chinuch focused approaches the Behaviorism . Kids as early as 3+ have the vocab for problem solving. Follow the advice of the haggada , kids learn through dialog questions , thinking and reflecting . Check these links For younger kids Here is an interesting link http://www.journal.naeyc.org/b...lanning&Reflection.pdf by Ann Epstein

http://www.explosivekids.org/d...m/DCForumID2/163.htmlBy the way , I am not so anonymous - I am Allan , the summary of William Glasser's Unhappy Teenagers is mine. A good sign whether an approach is good , is the follwing - the more you are dialoging and problem solving , you become a better problem solver and relationships improve . the more you use rewards and punishments , you have a problem. I know quite well behaviorist approaches like Barkley's 8 steps, the Nurtured Heart approach. I know all the tricks that help parents get back into control , get compliance , but the danger when I share these approaches , parents begin to rely on these methods at the expense of problem solving , I want them to become better problem solvers and not rely on external control like consequences.

I apologize for not framing my question approriately and than you for the dicussion

(Allan) AK


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159. Consequences vs Problem solving     12/26/07 - 1:40 PM
Ak

http://www.positivediscipline.com/articles_teacher/NO%20MORE%20LOGICAL%20CONSEQUENCES.html

NO MORE LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES At least hardly ever! FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS by Jane Nelsen

During a class meeting, students in a fifth grade class were asked to brainstorm logical consequences for two students who didn't hear the recess bell and were late for class. Following is their list of "consequences:" Make them write their names on the board. Make them stay after school that many minutes. Take away that many minutes off tomorrow's recess. No recess tomorrow. The teacher could yell at them. The students were then asked to forget about consequences and brainstorm for solutions that would help the students be on time. Following is their list of solutions: Someone could tap them on the shoulder when the bell rings. Everyone could yell together, "Bell!" They could play closer to the bell. They could watch others to see when they are going in. Adjust the bell so it is louder. They could choose a buddy to remind them that it is time to come in. The difference between these two lists is profound. The first looks and sounds like punishment. It focuses on the past and making kids "pay" for their mistake. The second list looks and sounds like solutions that focus on "helping" the kids do better in the future. It focuses on seeing problems as opportunities for learning. It other words, the first list is designed to hurt, the second is designed to help.

In the first list, the kids try to disguise punishment by calling it a logical consequence. Why do they do that? Could it be that this is what they are learning from adults? The Four Rs of Logical Consequences (Related, Respectful, Reasonable, and Revealed in advance) were conceived in an attempt to stop the trend of logical consequences sounding like punishment, but they have not totally eliminated this problem.

Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children DO better first we have to make them FEEL worse? When people first hear this quote from "Positive Discipline," they usually laugh as they think about how it doesn't make sense. However, when it comes to application, it seems that parents, teachers, and students have difficulty accepting that people do better when they feel better.

For example, many teachers like Nos. 2 and 3 on the first list above, ("Make them stay after school that many minutes," and "Take away that many minutes off tomorrow's recess.") It is true that those suggestions are related, reasonable, and could be enforced respectfully and revealed in advance. However, they all focus on making the child pay for the past mistake instead of finding a solution to solve the problem in the future. In other words, they are designed to make the children feel bad in the hopes that that will motivate them to do better. Punishment often stops misbehavior, but it hardly ever motivates children to do better in the future — unless they are approval junkies. Instead, they are motivated to rebel, get revenge, or to be more careful about getting caught.

Kay Rogers, a recently retired teacher from Sharon School in North Carolina said, "After I heard about the possibility of focusing on solutions instead of consequences, it was the hardest habit for me to break. All my life I had believed that kids learned from punishment -- or at least from consequences. I can now see that my students and I both tried to disguise punishment by calling it consequences -- even though the consequences weren't as harsh as blatant punishment. I had to learn about the effectiveness of focusing on solutions right along with my students. We were all surprised by the difference it made in our classroom. The level of respect and caring for each other was raised ten fold. Students became pleased to find their name on the agenda because they knew, as Jane Nelsen had told us, that we would have a whole room full of consultants to give them valuable suggestions. And, the solutions they found were much more effective in changing behavior than anything we had done before."

This does not mean logical consequences cannot be effective when properly understood and appropriately used. Hopefully the chapter on Natural and Logical Consequences in the newly revised edition of Positive Discipline will help. However, logical consequences are rarely necessary and are only one possibility. Rudolph Dreikurs taught that logical consequences are effective ONLY for the mistaken goal of undue attention (and are only one option even for that goal) . Too many adults look for logical consequences "to punish" every behavior. Looking for solutions is more effective in most situations.

Many teachers have switched and now teach the Three Rs and an H for Solutions: Related, Respectful, Reasonable and HELPFUL. Once students have brainstormed for solutions to a problem, it is extremely important to let individual students choose the solution he or she thinks will be most helpful. A vote should be taken only if the problem involved the whole class.

Of course, focusing on solutions instead of consequences is more effective in homes also. On parent said, "I can't believe how many power struggles I created by trying to impose ‘logical consequences'. We have so much more peace in our home now that we focus on solutions."

The chapter on logical consequences in Positive Discipline explains when and how to use effective logical consequences. However, in most cases, it is much simpler and much more helpful to focus on solutions.


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160. Comments     12/26/07 - 2:26 PM
Ak

Oheiv Shalom, Thank you for presenting my view point so well

Anon - You say inappropriate things have been said when posters feel threatened that their theories ' might not hold up in real life against basic good parenting skills. '

Instead of discussing the virtues of behavior modification against problem solving models , the effects of extrinsic motivation on intrinsic motivation and internalization you choose to be vague and join others who talk about common sense parenting , basic good parenting skills. At least one parent who challenged me had to admit that rewards and punishments are not ' chinuch'. I am passionate about chinuch , teachings kids to think , to take perspectives , empathize , be prosocial, and I want to support their autonomy - chinuch means giving them a start , letting feel their actions are intentional , a real choice eminating from themselves. A lot of research has been done in this field. Dr Sorotzkin uses this in his article - the dangers of competition and rewards Deci and Ryan - http://www.psych.rochester.edu/SDT/ Bringing true ' chinuch ' back into parenting requires a paradigm shift from the notion that people only learn when you ' teach them a lesson'. So when people talk about common sense parenting and good basic parents skill , I know where they are holding

Yoni - I wrote an apology before your recommendation. I disagree with Sheree;s interpretation of my clarification = desert ? . Sheree and I are on different wave lengths , our view of children is different , my approach is that children do well if they can , that instead of asking how can I motivate my kid to act differently , I ask what is getting in his way , so I can help him be more successful. Kids want to do well , they are already motivated , they don't need more motivation in the form of rewards and punishments , they need coping and life skills which problem solving provides. IMHO it is not kids do well if they want to , if that is your view then your interention is to provide and compensate the lacking motivation. But there is an inherent problem , that external motivation has a negative effect on intrinsic motivation and internalization. Behavior mod might work well for kids , but when kids hit 11+ , our leverage over them becomes very small , our influence is really our good and trusting relationship. You see when kids are teenagers we can't ' teach them a lesson' , if they perceive you are being unfair and conditional , they will teach you a lesson. It is so easy for them - just stop doverning , dressing inappropriately and suddenly we start thinking - whe n you are conditional , your unconditional love is meaningless .


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161. AK     12/26/07 - 2:49 PM
Anonymous

Allen,

Correct me if I am wrong- I believe you are the moderator for the Alfie Kohn website. If so, and it certainly sounds like the same person, I am not sure why Rabbi Horowitz's blog needs to become a clone-echo of the Kohn site.

Any intelligent person who is referred to the site would gain much from reading and joining the forums there. I cannot fathom why we need to read long, detailed posts that are straight from Alfie Kohn (as you write, and as is evident to those familiar with the Kohn site)- it's nice to refer someone, but enough! I forget I am on R' Horowitz's blog sometimes- all I see is Alfie Kohn dominating this site without a break. We know you appreciate him, we appreciate him too, and go there when we choose to. Please stop taking over this site with Alfie Kohn stuff!! It's stifling.


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162.     12/26/07 - 2:54 PM
yoni

AK, nothing is usefull in an absolute sense, and I think that anyone who believes in a one size fits all solution is persuing an unreachable goal.

It would be nice, but hashem didn't make our world that way, and he didn't make people that way.

sometimes, a choice punishment here and there really does work. More often unconditional love works. Sometimes kids just simply don't want to do well (rarely), often as a way of protecting their egos so they can always say "well I didn't really try" when they fail. (because they think that they will fail anyway.)

people are illogical creatures, and adolescents, usualy up till the age of 25 are even more illogical. (not even being topped by 2 and 3 year old children, who can be sometimes downright flabbergasting, exasperanting, and entirely discombobulating to deal with.)

you can't make reason of anykind produce something that will fit a irrational problem (ie a person, any person, adults too. and me.)


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163. Solution     12/26/07 - 3:29 PM
Ak

Anon, Firstly - how about a user name so we can keep track and know what your ideas or contribution to the discussion is. I am not a moderator and Alfie Kohn does not have a forum. If you find my presence here stiffling , you can ignore my AK posts. By the way , I have shared Ross Greene, William Glasser - Unhappy teenagers summary , Myrna Shure , a little bit of Edward de Bono here. By the way - Rav Horowitz has asked parents to contribute or participate in his new parenting forum . I eager to be exposed to creative parenting ideas and discussion

Yoni, Despite parenting needed to be tailored to individual needs , one;s philosophy of parenting , view of children and their natures will guide one's approach to character education. When people talk of common sense parenting , good basic parenting skills , I ask myself what makes us different from the Christian right = behaviorists and other parenting


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164. In agreement     12/26/07 - 3:40 PM
Anonymous

It seems that all the posters agree that the lines of communication be open with children and issues and behaviors should be discussed with them. NO ONE said or suggested anything differently.

The concept of accountability and responsibility stands alone and does not necessarily need to be attached to the concept of reward and consequence.

Having said that, Sherree never said that, and defended her position many times, that rewards and consequences in its simplest form is as simlpe as the result of ones actions whether it affects them alone or others. It can be just simply feeling good about oneself for the action that they did or feeling horribly about themselves because of the action that they did. That is also a reward or a consequence of an action. It can be self-imposed, it can be imposed by well-known rules such as house rules, school rules, governmental laws, work rules, halachic laws, insurance laws, tax laws, ethical laws, etc. It was unnecessary to jump down her throat and assume that it meant cruel and unusual punishment. And the concept of speaking to a child to discuss the consequence and get input from the child as to what a consequence should be, was misquoted numerous times by AK and others to mean the child chooses their own consequence. Having the child's input is the same valuable tool as discussed by AK in problem solving. Having a child suggest for instance that they should apologize to someone for a misdeed, or return an item that they stole is a part of problem solving, as important as what they think they should do in the future if the issue arises again.

I don't believe that the desert was a rhetoric question it was an example of parenting and guidance. It is also as explained, related to what was also discussed by many, what is age and development appropriate to each child al pi darcho. Many ways and means discussed here also depends on how many children you are raising at the same time. A parents experience raising one child is completely different than parents who are raising 5 at the same time.

I have a different question to ask which involves the autonomy vs parental guidance which some are calling controling issue. When children are very young (which some are claiming here makes no difference) and you are teaching them Halacha and frumkeit. When they refuse and continually break the rules lets say about Shabbos, or mixing meat and milk do you just keep talking to them over and over again and just watch them continue to make the wrong choice? I am not talking about an at-risk teen, I am talking about a 4 year old or 5 year old who is playing with the lights on Shabbos. Allen, should he get a time out, or will you stand next to him while he continues to turn the light switch on and off and keep talking to him?

From what I undertand of your theory if you take his hand off the switch you are controling him. If you give him a time out you are punishing him. So do you keep talking to him for six months to a year until he gets bored doing it? What if he does it in your neighbors house or parents house or in shul? Is that OK? Do you just ignore him and talk to him when you get home? How do you handle such a situation?


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165. To Anon 164     12/26/07 - 4:46 PM
Anonymous

You spoke well. For those who appreciate straight talk and know that convoluted philosophy does not equal good parenting, you got to the core of the matter. Please, keep contributing- we need more of you.

Regarding your last question- be prepared for long, philosophical monologues- good luck! Just don't be intimidated by it, and try to envision if someone is truly practicing the utopia they speak of, or if it just "sounds good". If only we could be a fly on the wall :).

Allan- you're right- I mixed up the sites- Alfie Kohn only has a talkback feature, and I was referring to the forum on explosivekids.org.


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166. Kid eg     12/26/07 - 4:59 PM
Ak

Hi, Kid eg - if a kid is acting in appropriately in Shul , the parent at best would distract his attention to remove him from the situation and give him some alternative form of entertainment and if he may need to be supervised or somebody needs to play with him . I would then sit down with the kid and ask questions. Start with empathy - shul is a bit boring for a 4-5 yo , a park would be more interesting and playing with the lights is fun , but on Shabbos it is a problem , do you know why it is a problem ? , ask how do you think other people feel when the light go on and off , can that be distracting , their doverning is important for our family and their families , why is that ?. So we have a problem , you seem interested in lights ,like playing with lights and it is shabbos in a shul , how can we solve your problem. So in this situation we need a bit of creativity . Maybe we can ask the Gabbai of the shul to allow you to switch on the lights before Shabbos and switch them off after shabbos. That is not only playing with the lights but you are doing something very important for shabbos , that people have light and they are not mechaleil shabbos. I will also take you to a light fittings shop , where you can see different shapes, sizes, colors of lights and will can learn together about lights and switches. Now problem solving involves lots of dialog , perspective taking using stories etc so having discussed a ficticious scenario where a kid made an apology and fixed the relationship , we would ask the kid what he would like to do as an apology , a letter , in person , give Tzeddaka , when he is ready and feels comfortable enough to apologize. If the kid has some temperament , putting him in a time out will just cause him to resist so now you are stuck with a new problem enforcing the time out. If you punish him , the focus is now on you and the punishment , not on what happened in shul. Telling a kid that if he continues he will suffer , might do the job but IMHO my approach keeps the relationship intact and is a learning experience, connecting with a kid , taking his curiosity for lights to a new and positive levels. When you connect and bond with a kid on this level , when you ask questions , you have him on your side , working together with you.


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167. Anon 165     12/26/07 - 5:22 PM
Ak

Hi, I am sorry to disappoint you it was not a long philosophical monoloque but a dialog with a kid. You see with especially kids you have to learn how to reach them , and it usually through the back door. with your permission , I have a question to ask you - when adults speak in Shul , does the Rav fine them or give some other consequence. When it comes to kids , we are tough , straight talkers , how about picking someone your own size , instead of using ' power' , threats etc how about some creative thinking ?


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168. to yoni     12/26/07 - 5:48 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

yoni:

can you please email me at yhdarchei@aol.com?

it is my private email and i am the only one who reads those emails.

thanks

yakov


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169. AK     12/26/07 - 5:49 PM
Anonymous

This is exactly the problem with your posts- again and again and again.

You write:"we are tough , straight talkers , how about picking someone your own size , instead of using ' power' , threats etc how about some creative thinking ?"

You've done this to Sherree and you've done this to a number of other posters:

WHO said anything about tough, except for MR. AK? WHO translated "straight talk" (adult to adult straight talk in a blog, that is) to "toughness" to children?? What is underlying this pathological need to turn everyone's words into something ugly and repulsive?

Picking on someone "your own size"? Have you never seen a loving family interaction of any kind except for your theories? Why, oh why, is it always "my way or the highway" with you? Can you not see how you come across? If it's not AK's way, it's tough, it's unloving, stern, and controlling "picking on a child"?? Did you ever see a loving, warm, interactive family in action? That is, besides yours, of course.

And why do you translate my words as indicating "power" and "threats"?? This is what turns me off your posts- you twist others' words around, and plant ideas that never existed, because if we don't grovel before AK's marvelous referrals and ideas, we are all control freaks, old fashioned child hitters, we threaten, use candy and sticks, and otherwise bully/bribe our children into "behaving" and conforming. What makes you think that? Where did I say this, or even in the slightest way imply this? I resent what you have done to my words very, very much! Have you seen no joyful, loving, positive, supportive and creative parents?

I personally resent your comments in this vein to me and others. No, I don't see why I should need to "skip AK" posts- this is a public blog, and we should all learn respectful communication.

The most astounding part of this is that with the kind of communication skills evidenced here, ascribing horrific parenting ideas to anyone who debates yours, how, in real life, are you able to implement such wonderful, engaging communciation skills with children? This is a rhetorical question- I don't want a personal answer. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you have wonderful communication skills with children, but the contrast is startling.

Please, accept- some of us are wonderful, creative, and supportive parents, raising children who are healthy, creative, autonomous, thoughtful, and flexible. Even if we parent differently than you. And we would like to contribute to civil discussion here without horrible positions being ascribed to our words with no evidence whatsoever, except for the sin of disagreeing with you. I respect your ideas, even if I may not agree with them all the time. I don't pretend that you REALLY mean something horrible instead. Please, give your fellow contributors the same respect.

It is such a shame that this "my way or the highway" attitude is driving away good, well meaning posters from a blog that has so much potential.

A little hachna'ah goes a long way, and so does a natural, curious interest in what others have to say, without impatiently waiting until they finish so you can show everyone how awful they REALLY are.

And Yoni- I sympathize with your plea for shalom- I really do want a polite, civil, stimulating conversation. I say it's very difficult when others are repeatedly put down. I have NEVER been treated this way on a blog, and I am still a bit stunned that my words were twisted that way. If you can influence matters, kol hakovod.


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170. tone of discusions     12/26/07 - 5:56 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

dear all:

these are important issues that need to be discussed.

can we all please refrain from 'getting personal'?

there is too much heat generated by some of the comments. what we really need is the illumination generated by the many of the excellent points made.

thanks

yakov


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171.     12/26/07 - 6:01 PM
Anonymous

Yes, Rabbi Horowitz, I agree.

Hopefully...


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172. AK     12/26/07 - 6:22 PM
Anonymous

I just wanted to make the point as was mentioned before that "making the apology" ask you yourself came to the conclusion in your problem solving discussion with the child, is the consequence/result of the chosen action.


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173. AK     12/26/07 - 9:15 PM
Anonymous

It seems from your reply to what to do with the child who is turning on the lights in shul, that you disproved your theory as applicable in practical situations.

Firstly, by distracting the child from his actions you are in essense using parental external control to stop the child from his autonomous choice of unacceptable behavior. You are forcing him to choose another behavior which basically is the action of "your" own choosing, so you are using a distraction to "control" him just as if you would remove his hand from the light switch and guide him away to another activity. You are only using your theory of discussion and conversation after you have already stopped the inappropriate behavior.

Secondly you yourself are imposing a consequence by means of "an apology" after you have finished and concluded your discussion. You may try to disguise this as "problem solving" but at the end of the day it is the consequence as the result of the action.

And finally, you are "bribing" your child when offering to go on an outing to the lighting store to check out all the lights, colors, etc. Parents can come up with various plans of interest to the child without sharing all the ideas and bribing them in this fashion as you claim in your theory. Bribing is not necessarily candy.

You can use any terminoly and/or adjectives you choose to disguise your theories but when you strip things down to basics as you proved in your example above, you are still using the same procedures as other parents do. You are still using the means of communications that children at different ages and levels can relate to. In this particular example the age of 5: control, consequence and bribery.

So it seems that finally we are ALL on the same page and you demonstrated in your example exactly what other parents do who offer unconditional love, warmth, kindness, gentleness, generosity, common sense parenting through boundaries and guidelines by following the best Parenting book in the universe and that is the Torah.

You also demonstrated in your example that consequences are not necessarily brutal punishments as you later refer to.

Time out is an example of a consequence that allows a child to calm down, relax and think about what other options the child could have chosen beside the inappropriate behavior. So this is basically a discussion a child is having with himself in his own mind. A thought process learning experience to think things through on his own. I have never seen a child act violently or in a frustrated manner in time-out. They usually calm down and when time out is finished, a discussion can take place with a calm child. As reference they calm down in time out because they were explained and understand the meaning and reasoning behind time-out.

I am confused as to why you would use the example of "telling the kid if he continues he would suffer" why would you even choose to say that instead of the normal first reaction most people would have which would be "remove the child's hand from the light switch and guide him to another activity". This is a very similar concept to "distract him". And/or tell him that "we don't turn lights on and off on Shabbos, it is muktza and an aveira. I don't understand why your thought process is steeped so stringently in this concept of brutally torturing and threatening children. It makes one truly wonder why you keep going there and why you twist everyone's words to reflect that meaning. There is something very disturbing about this and I for one agree with the other poster who said that not one person here on this thread made any such suggestion or reference.

So again, I am very happy and I am sure Yoni is as well that we all seem to be on the same page now, and we are all in agreement on the subject. Rabbi Horowitz are you pleased with us?


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174. Anon 173     12/26/07 - 11:04 PM
Anonymous

Whew. Thank you for putting this into perspective :).


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175. Understanding     12/27/07 - 1:24 AM
Ak

Anon, Your interpretation of my example is one way of looking at things I never force an apology , we can discuss it , use a story to illustrate , and then ask a kid what can he do to fix the relationship . Forcing a kid to apologize is teaching a kid to lie. We are saying the main thing is the behavior , say you are sorry . In some situations a kid might be emotionally charged of feel unfairly treated and not yet comfortable enough to say sorry , but often parents will insist on saying the words without meaning them. Bribing - is used to get a behavior or reinforce a behavior. My idea of going to a light fitting shop was never discussed in the context of a bribe . You are reading a lot into my post which is not there and missing out on the message. As Ann Epstein says , an intentional teacher looks for teaching opportunities and providing kids with new learning experiences Intentional teachers use their knowledge, judgment, and expertise to organize learning experiences for children. And, "when an unexpected situation arises, as it always does," notes Dr. Epstein, "intentional teachers recognize a teaching opportunity and are able to take advantage of it."

Take, for example, preschool teacher Peter, who is observing Tony and Salima, two of his students, sitting on the floor and playing with the acorns the class collected outside. As Salima divides the acorns between them, putting hers in a long row and Tony's in a pile, Tony becomes frustrated because he thinks Salima has more acorns than he has. Peter, as an intentional teacher, wonders out loud how the children could find out whether they have the same number of acorns. Tony suggests counting them in the two arrangements, and as Peter observes, asks thoughtful questions, and adds supportive comments, the children discover together that they do indeed have the same number of acorns regardless of how they are arranged' So when a kid is having problems with healthy eating or meat-milk , this is a window of opportunity for new learning experiences and which educates also replacement behaviors External control - If you check the Explosive child resources , you will see there are 3 baskets or plans There is basket A where a parent will need to impose his will on the child or forcibly remove him when there is a safety issue or property is being destroyed. But we will spend time out of the moment using ' proactive basket B , collaborative problem solving to deal with the issues. The beauty about using distraction isthat the kid does not feel that he is being manipulated , he sees his leaving the lights and moving on as a action eminating from himself. Bribing would be - if you stop , you can play with a ball. Time -out - in behaviorist language , T.O is time out from positive reinforcement , as Sheree used in the swimming pool eg give the kid the message that his behavior is causing him to miss out on the fun. This is completely different of teaching a kid to have a ' comfort corner ' with his favourite books or toys and learning to step back and calm down. In a classical time out - there are no toys - it is time out from positive reinforcement. When Faber and Mazlish or ask if we would like the methods we use on kids to be used on ourselves , if that would be respectful or William Glasser of Choice theory whom Sheree quotes asks if we use these methods on our friends and spouses , I asked Sheree these same questions. One of the ways of making punishments more aceptable to children is to call them consequences and even better getting kids input or letting them choose the consequence. Sheree did say let the kid choose the consequence which is better than only the parent deciding to withdraw a privelege ( in my language , a human right ). When kids choose to reinforcements or have internalized a motivation technique , they see motivational strategies as helping them be successful and not controlling them. I am a BTDT parent , been there , done that and I am still work in progress. I am not recommending all or nothing approach , but what is the focus of parenting - dialog questions , collaborative problem solving , moving away from conditional and contingent parenting.


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176. Straight talking     12/27/07 - 2:18 AM
Ak

Anons of this world , It would be more respectful if you had a user name , it is difficult to know who is saying what.

Various attempts have been made here to dismiss what I am saying - the latest psycho-babble , utopian philosophy , as opposed to common sense parenting, good basic parenting skills. I don;t know who said this

You spoke well. For those who appreciate straight talk and know that convoluted philosophy does not equal good parenting, you got to the core of the matter. Please, keep contributing- we need more of you. Regarding your last question- be prepared for long, philosophical monologues- good luck! Just don't be intimidated by it, and try to envision if someone is truly practicing the utopia they speak of, or if it just "sounds good". If only we could be a fly on the wall :).

From the context of that response , and my posts , straight talking means to me , no nonsense , tough talk. As you say I am mistaken with my interpration , I was not trying to read someting in your words .I apologize and take it back , maybe you can explain what you mean by straight talk.

William Glasser 's , Faber and Mazlish question still remains


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177. Consequences as control     12/27/07 - 2:56 AM
Abbi

For all of these parents ranting about how "consequences as control" and "that's not how you would treat your adult friends or family" I had to laugh at Dasi's comment "- if I choose to speed, I'll get a ticket". What nerve of the policeman to give me a ticket! Shouldn't we have a nice discussion about the deadly natural consequences of speeding and shouldn't the policeman coach me about how to not speed in the future?

Sorry, but just as young children need very clear rules and boundaries (believe me, as a former teacher who sincerely attempted to implement these constructivist ideas with young children with disastrous results) I believe teenagers need clear boundaries as well- WITH consequences clearly discussed, agreed upon and delineated beforehand. Miss curfew? You have to stay home the next night. I fail to see how a calm, rational agreement about this is less effective then a mutchy kutchy, awww, what can we make you do to feel better long winded discussion after they come home.

Consequences imposed by others ARE a part of natural world. Who hasn't gotten docked pay for too many vacation/sick days or possibly, gotten a speeding/ parking ticket? Why should teenagers be treated any differently?

I also think there can be such a thing as too much communication. I clearly remember a student of mine who just covered her ears at one point when I was trying to help her understand what she had done wrong in the class. "Stop talking to me!" she said. At a certain point, it can be too much. Sometimes, kids and teens do just want the boundaries and to move on with their lives.


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178. Traffic police     12/27/07 - 3:53 AM
Ak

Hi, The BBC ran a story about a famous traffic policeman , his claim to fame is that he never gave a single fine in his career , he won the respect of the public by helping them reflect on respectful and safe driving and not on the fine. I assume that most people would prefer to dealt in this way. When there is an alternative to deal with issues , consequences are not so logical and certainly not natural. But there is an advantage for a kid , when they do the consequence , they have paid the price and can carry on with their lives , being more careful not to be caught next time , but no commitment for change from the inside. It is so much easier to give a punishment or offer rewards , than to deal inductively with issues. Problem solving is a skill and does not come easy for parents, teachers or kids. The idea is to get the child to think , that is what education is all about , and you do that , not by explaining or telling , but by asking questions , so you let the child in a sense teach themselves. It is not easy . When we succeed in imposing the consequence , we may have may have won the battle , but in many cases we have lost the war , we have just reinforced the child's perception that we are unfair. The problem starts when kids learn the system - what will I get if I do this , what will be done to him , because he did that , if they perceive you are tring to teach them a lesson , they will teach you one to.


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179. Actually     12/27/07 - 5:17 AM
Abbi

Children commit to change not when they "teach themselves" but when they feel committed to their parents and their family. If your kids don't love and respect you in equal amounts, if they really don't care about what you think about their behavior, no amount of thoughtful conversation will help them do the right thing.

Not only do I think your ideas are just plain wrong, they are really unhelpful for parents and children for setting boundaries- when you force children to set their own boundaries, you actually scare them because you place all of the responsibility on them. I've seen children literally break down from these types of ideas.

One of my students was under the care of a psychologist when I was a teacher in a school that used these methods. I gave up quickly using them after I leaned over to quietly talk to this boy about what he did wrong and he kicked me in the chest, leaving a black and blue mark. After that, I used old fashioned negative consequences, positive reinforcement methods. His shrink actually called at the end of the year and THANKED ME for the work I did, because she felt he would not have managed to desist from his violent ways if not for the work I'd done.

So, sorry, it's not a matter of these methods being hard for parents and teachers. It's just that they don't work and are actually harmful for all involved.

As for you example of the policeman who doesn't give tickets- since the chances of your children of meeting such a nice guy are next to none, do you think you are doing them a service by pretending this is the norm?


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180. a different perspective     12/27/07 - 5:28 AM
Chana

I would like to give a different perspective of parenting than the "what do we mean by consequences" approach that has been the subject of conversation lately.

I am not at all familiar with the Alfie Kohn theory that AK has been writing about although it does seem to overlap with some of the ideas in Choice Theory. I also need to say that I have not yet had the experience of raising a child from day one on Choice Theory so I can't give practical applications of how Choice Theory worked on a very young child.

My personal opinion is that until the child can reason rationally there is a need for the "house rules/consequences/cause and effect" in some version. Of course, every child is going to reach this stage at a different point, but I have found that in general Choice Theory works in many areas already at the age of 6-7. The rule of thumb is that I don't want to try to control my child.

Choice Theory teaches that I help my child come up with feasible options that could solve his difficulty.

(Now please hear the difference, I am not saying MY difficulty with his behavior. For a child that is playing with the lights in shul on shabbos, I think the proper response would be to offer the child the option of going to go play outside or not to bring him to shul in the first place. This is not a punishment/consequence. It is common sense. Just like we wouldn't send a 4-month-old to learn in kindergarten, we don't take a child to shul who isn't capable of sitting quietly and/or davening. That is what going to shul is all about. We are not our children's religious policemen -- at any age. Trying to be so will only make your child's association with religious practices a negative one. If the child decides he wants to try again the next week, he knows that he is welcome to sit next to his Abba for as long as he can sit quietly. When he can't anymore, he can either choose to go home or to play outside until Aba is finished davening. If he needs to be accompanied home because he is to young to make the walk alone, then Aba has to either be prepared ahead of time that he might have to leave in the middle of tefillah to take his son home, or he has to let his son know in advance that this is not a viable option so that the child can make the choice on whether to stay home or go to shul. Then, even if he goes to shul and decides in the middle he wants to go home, he knows that this was the choice he made and the NATURAL result/consequence is that he will have to wait until Aba is finished davening. In this way it is not the parent who is enforcing a consequence or the child who is choosing the "punishment/consequence" that the parent will impose either before or after the fact. The child is choosing how to behave knowing what will naturally be the result/consequence as opposed to what punishment/consequence will be imposed upon him by his parent/teacher/etc. This is more in line with the idea mentioned above that a child who doesn't study won't do well on a test. He chose not to study -- he didn't choose not to do well on the test. That was just the natural result/consequence. He isn't going to be angry at the teacher for punishing him with a low grade!)

Choice Theory requires the parent to be quite in-tune with the child's needs and feelings since there is a need to problem-solve as much as possible before the problem really exists. This isn't too much of a problem since Choice Theory is completely about having strong/close relationships.

For instance, let's say you've made supper and your 6-year old walks in and says he doesn't like what you made. According to the punishment/consequence theory you might say, "If you don't eat you can't have dessert." That is controling.

Choice Theory says, "NO CONTROLLING! Connect with the child's feelings and forget about what you want him to do. Don't wait until he is sitting glumly staring at a plate of food that he doesn't want to eat. Help him find solutions." So you might say, "I understand that you don't like what I made for dinner. What options do you have?" He might answer, "I could have only a very small portion," or "I can skip supper," or "I could have a sandwich instead," or "I could have some of last night's leftovers if you don't need them for something else." You can add in a few of your own, and it's always a good idea to dispel the tenseness of the situation by mentioning something off-the-wall like "You could have a bottle of the baby's formula," or "You could sit on the floor and scream and kick my feet."

Once the child has a list of solutions, now go back and help him discover the result/consequence of each of those solutions: "If I only take a small portion, I will have to force myself to eat something that really makes my stomach turn, and I won't be very happy. If I skip dinner, I will be hungry. If I take a sandwich, I'll miss having a warm meal but I'll be satiated. If I have last night's leftovers I will have to wait until someone can warm it up for me, but then I'll have a warm, filling meal. If I sit on the floor and kick and scream I'll just loose my voice and I'll still be hungry..."

The last step in the process is for the child to think through his options and choose which one has the result/consequence that is in his own best interests.

This way, the parent is not pro-active in the punishment/consequence enforcement. The child learns to be reasonable, look at his options, and choose rationally and with sechel. In essence, he learns to problem-solve.

This entire conversation doesn't have to take more than 3-4 minutes (after which the parent should obviously tell the child how proud he is that the child was able to find himself a solution that worked all by himself).

Now, I have given a basic example with a younger child. However, many of you here will ask: Okay, but how does this work with my irrational teen? Well, here I can claim to have a bit more experience. (I currently have 3 real teens and one underaged teen -- she's 7. The rest of my children are not teens...yet!)

The teen story is basically the same with one major difference. With a teen we have to realize that we aren't necessarily going to be able to show the child that some of the options that the teen sees as viable may not be so. And some of the results/consequences that a teen sees as the natural outcome of a specific option may be totally twisted logic or outright wrong. However, although we may try to voice our opinion ONCE and give a different point of view, if the teen doesn't accept it, we have to LET GO IMMEDIATELY!!! This means we don't disparage him, call him "unrealistic" or "stupid" or "ridiculous" or even a "teenager"! We just listen, accept, and respect his ability and determination to problem-solve even though his rationale is incorrect. And this applies in EVERY situation. If we try to control we might win the battle but we will never win the war.

An example: My teen likes to go bike riding when he gets home at 9:30 from yeshivah. I know that the kids out on the street at that time are not the kind I want my son associating with. I also know that the breaks on my son's bike don't work and he tends to ride in the street and won't wear a helmet in the neighborhood. I think most parents will agree that I have several serious, valid reasons why I don't want him going out. However, my son's behavior IS NOT MY CHOICE!!!

I can tell my son that it does not make me happy when he goes bike riding at night and that I worry about him until he gets home safe and sound. I can ask him if there is another option that he sees as viable regarding an alternative activity that he would choose instead of this one that might make me happier as well.

I can help by offering some of my own ideas: "I'll play a game with you, We can bake some cookies for you to take to yeshivah tomorrow, You could go across to the neighbor and see if their son can go out back and shoot some baskets with you, I could help you figure out how your new _____ works now that I have the time to read through the manual with you," etc.

However, the bottom line is that my teen is going to look at his options, he is going to consider the various results/consequences of those options (hopefully including the consequence of "I'm going to make Ima worried" or "I'll make Ima happy."), and then he is going to choose the option that HE thinks is best for HIM.

In comparison, the youngster in the above example may have given the option of "I could have a plate of candy for dinner," and the parent would have helped him to understand that the result/consequence of that option would be a tummy-ache and/or dental work and possibly might add a little nutrition information. With our teens, we cannot "help him understand" what the "logical" result/consequence of his actions is going to be. Sometimes we can offer our own opinion, sometimes we can't, and sometimes he's just going to have to learn the hard way -- from his own experience.

So, if in the end my son decides to take his bike out for a ride, I am going to be completely accepting and supportive of his decision, whether or not I feel it was the "right" choice.

I can respectfully negotiate a time that he feels is fair for him to be home. I can also offer him a cell phone to take with him in his pocket. I can ask him to humor me so that I won't be so worried and make up a time about halfway through the amount of time he will be out for him to call home and just say he's okay. And I can also request that if he decides to stay out longer that he calls me so that I won't worry. I will make it clear to him that I won't call him because he didn't call me, and if he does call, I won't ask "Where are you" or "what are you doing". I am giving him the message: I WILL NOT CONTROL YOU.

HOWEVER, should he decide to "break the rules" and come home late or not call, I will accept his decisions and I will not say a word about it -- I won't even give him a reproachful look when he walks in or say "You had me so worried because you didn't call/come back on time." What I will do is say: "Hi there! It's great to have you back home. How did your bike ride go?" And then I'll drop the subject unless he decides to continue the conversation.

My experience is that if your relationship with your teen is even somewhat existent, he will honor your requests if they are made in a respectful and non-controlling manner. And if he doesn't call or come back on time it is because either he was testing me to see if I would keep to my non-controlling commitment or because he just plain forgot. Either way, my experience has been that in such a case my son apologizes profusely for worrying me and gives me an excuse for having done so. My only response is "I'm glad you're back."

This is not to say that it isn't very scary and/or painful sometimes when we have to watch our teens live through the result/consequences of their chosen behavior. But we can hope that they will make from it a learning experience and grow from it so that there will be fewer such experiences of pain for him in the future.

One more thing. If both parents can work together and support each other using this method, more power to you! Here is some helpful advice for someone who has a hard time holding themselves back from being controling/accusing/criticizing with their teen:

If your teen rubs you the wrong way and you really have a hard time accepting his irrational thinking and behavior or his personality is hard for you to deal with, hopefully your spouse finds it easier to do so. In such a situation, let your spouse be the main one to deal with your teen. Let him/her be the primary negotiator/mentor/coach for the teen. Don't get involved in any of it. As the recessive party in the parents-teen relationship, you will play a different role: that of being a complete and unconditional source of caring and love. Apart from being supportive of your spouse who will be dealing with the emotional roller-coaster of your teen, the guidelines for your behavior regarding your teen are quite simple to follow:

1. You DON'T say/do anything that will hurt your relationship with your child. If he/she is doing something that is grating on you, get up and walk out of the room. (Note: I didn't say "stomp" out of the room. I didn't say give your teen an angry look as you push past him/her. Just get up as though you have something else to do elsewhere and choose to remove yourself from a situation that is frustrating/angering you.

2. You DO put yourself on a constant lookout for and take advantage of every opportunity you can find to give your teen encouragement, tell him/her how proud you are of something they did, say a sincere thank you (even for something small) that they did, and acknowledge the fact that something they did/said may have been difficult for them and even so they did it.

That's it!

While it is true that if both parents deal this way with the teen, you still will have accomplished something in that you will not be destroying your relationship with him/her. However, a strong relationship needs to be based on give and take. It is not enough for one party to be the giver and the other to be the taker. If you are not able to discuss issues (whether yours or his/hers) with your teen, he/she will find someone else who can. These discussions and the decisions they lead to are the building blocks of a relationship. Your teen will naturally come back to you to discuss the results of his actions if you were the one who was there when those actions were first considered. It has a snowball effect that will result in a strong relationship. And as parents of a teen, this is our ONLY goal.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I hope someone finds something helpful within. I can only share my own experiences and hope that it will give another parent chizuk. Kol tuv.


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181. One more thing     12/27/07 - 5:31 AM
Abbi

I also don't buy that negative consequences just lead to kids "learning not to get caught". When my five year old gets a time out for hitting her sister, she learns that when you hit, you can't play other children. She has since learned not to hit, even when I'm not in the room. She's a pretty smart cookie; I'm sure if she was really committed to hitting her sister, she'd find some kind of way of getting around my little rule.

But since she is sincerely interested in being good and doing the right thing, and happens to have a very developed empathetic streak, and craves my attention and approval she doesn't engage in this kind of behavior anymore. Is giving a time-out to a child "controlling"? Yes indeed. But in setting boundaries, parents teach children and teens to control themselves. That is the goal.

Parents should certainly explain the meaning of consequences. In my previous example of missing curfew, the parent should explain that since the teen can't be trusted to come home on time, he will have to stay home x number of days until the parent feels that the teen can be trusted again. Loss of trust is the natural consequence of missing curfew. Is it controlling of the parent to demand that the child rebuild lost trust? Absolutely. Is it controlling of a spouse to expect the same type of trust? Sure.

Every human relationship has an element of control. If you don't want to ever be controlled by another person's wishes or demands, live like a hermit. If you want to be part of the human world, you have to face the consequences of your actions.

But you're not doing you child any favors by refusing to set these types of boundaries and pretending they can always set the consequential terms of their negative behavior.


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182. Chana's comments     12/27/07 - 5:59 AM
Abbi

Chana, I have to say, your comments were someone what shocking, to say the least.

Try replacing the word "teen" with the word "spouse". If your spouse was doing something grating, do you think just ignoring it and walking out of the room will really help your relationship? You might be avoiding confrontation, but you're not truly improving your relationship.

Ignore all rude behavior if it "rubs you the wrong way"? Is that a mature, adult response? It sounds like instead of not controlling your teen, your teen controls you. You might have a peaceful house, but I have a hard time seeing how your suggestions help teens build healthy, respectful relationships.


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183. to Abbi     12/27/07 - 6:16 AM
Chana

From what you are writing, you sound as though you have already raised your own children or at least they are past the teen stage. I have written previously regarding my feeling that what worked 20 years ago doesn't work any more today. As much as we might instill good/kind/derech eretz/proper values and behaviors in our children at home, they are subject to the environment of their peers. Unfortunately, today's kids are exposed to chutzpah and lack of derech eretz from the very beginning of their schooling and just that fact alone changes the rules of parenting. Our word is no longer uncrossable. Anything we set down as a rule is "up for discussion". Rules are made to be broken -- today, some adults behave as though they think this way as well.

As I stated above, I agree with you that there has to be some form of "house rules" for young children. However, I learned the hard way by almost losing my son to the street that consequences don't always work once the child begins to assert themselves. It wasn't long ago that I told my son he could not go out after 10:00 at night. His response was: "I'm going out." When I told him that I didn't allow it, he said, "You'll see, I'm going out." When I locked the door and took away the key, he still told me he'd get out. And he did! And he didn't come home until several hours later and he had a huge chip on his shoulder toward me for trying to control him. So, short of handcuffing him to the main supporting beam of the house, I am not going to be able to enforce such a consequence. Now, if you read my post above about how I dealt with my son's bike riding, you will see the other option. True, in both cases he got out of the house. But, using the controlling method, I actually ended up in less control than using the non-controlling method! This is because our control over our children when they are not with us is in direct proportion and an exact reflection of how strong our relationship is with them. In other words, if I respect and accept my son's decisions/thoughts/desires, he will respect and accept mine. If I don't, then chances are he will take advantage of every opportunity he gets to go against my wishes.

I don't say this is true with all children or even with all teens. However, IMHO, it surely holds true with every teen-at-risk which is what we are supposed to be discussing in this blog...I think?!

I'd like to hear some responses of other parents of teens and teens-at-risk...


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184. to Abbi     12/27/07 - 6:45 AM
Chana

our posts crossed. I was raised more or less in the way you are describing. I think most of my generation was, and for sure our parents were. I know how unbelievable what I am writing must sound to you because it sounded just as unbelievable to me when I was first introduced to the ideas.

However, it was precisely the types of controling behaviors that you are describing that were making my teen disconnect from his parents, his family, and his home. It was also our trying to control his behavior and decisions that made our home a hotbed of stress and took away every last shred of menuchas hanefesh that I had. On the other hand, as soon as we switched over to non-controlling behaviors he began to reconnect and I felt free! Before, he was manipulating the entire house because he knew that if he did something that we didn't want him to do he would have to deal with the consequence/punishment WHICH WAS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENFORCE. So any time he wanted to get on someone's nerves, he knew exactly how to do it. Once I no longer took responsibility for his behavior, he could no longer manipulate me and I was free to love him without being resentful of having to spend all my time and energy trying to "save him from himself."

Again, if my son were to have continued to be respectful of the boundaries and house rules and consequences that we have set in the house (as are my other children), we would never have had to switch gears in our way of working with him. My experience tells me, however, that many teens today are like him in that when they become adolescents they begin to see consequences as controlling and "no one has a right to control me" becomes a valid point of view. Once the teen becomes a "teen at risk" the outcome of using external control is even more frightening.

Please go back up to the earlier posts on this thread if you have not done so already and read some of my earlier comments and maybe you will be able to get a picture of the situation with today's teens at risk.

I will repeat one of the things I said in a much earlier post: Although you might consider my way of dealing with my son as "burying my head in the sand" or "allowing my teen to control me" you should know that the alternative is possibly not having a son at all. (I am not exaggerating.) I cannot change my child. All my "educating" "punishing" "criticizing" him is going to do is sever my relationship with him -- which is the only thing of value that we share...and it is priceless.


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185. Chana     12/27/07 - 8:05 AM
Abbi

Clearly, it sounds like you are dealing with a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, this thread is so convoluted, I'm not sure I could really find your previous posts.

For the record, I actually have very small children and as for my own experience, I've always had a very close loving relationship with my parents, as did my brother; so this whole obnoxious/rebellious teen thing is not something I've experienced personally.

I'm going to be dan l'kaf zchut and assume that you've tried numerous counselors to try and mend this relationship in what would seem to me to be a healthier way. It sounds like your house is more peaceful, but I have a hard time understanding how your son is learning not to manipulate others and to respect others' rights if there are no real, enforced boundaries on his behavior.

I guess he really will learn those things when he goes out into the real world and truly has to live with the consequences of his behavior towards others. His future wife and colleagues will not simply leave the room when he does things to annoy them/ hurt them/ violate their trust- it will be a lot worse then that.

Also, I really don't buy the idea that "kids today are different". I think kids are the same, I think many parents are just having a hard time dealing with them.

I truly wish you much hatzlacha in your parenting journey.


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186. Chana     12/27/07 - 9:03 AM
Abbi

Chana, I actually did go back to read some of your posts.

I'm not sure why you haven't looked into a pnemiya for him. There are wonderful youth villages all over Israel that deal with problem children/children from problem homes.

This should be the ultimate consequence for his behavior. And not even sending him out of anger. But he should understand that if he chooses to engage in destructive behavior (lying, stealing, etc) he cannot be live at home, despite how much you love him. You have to love your other children and your husband just as much.

Here is a list of just the WIZO centers. Look down the the Ma'an Therapeutic Center. http://wizo.org/english/about_department.asp?catid=180


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187. to Abbi     12/27/07 - 9:04 AM
Chana

If you are interested in getting a feeling for what the lives of a teen-at-risk and his/her parents are like, and you (understandably!) don't have the time or patience to read through this entire "convoluted thread" to get an idea, I am doing you the service of recommending some posts for your perusal. I do hope that after reading these posts you will be able to learn from and take part in these discussions with a different perspective so that we, too, can learn from your experiences as an adult from a positive chinuch background. Keep in mind that the non-controling ideas mentioned by me are not applicable to young children. They are not even applicable to an older child in a global sense unless that child is fighting against control.

I'd like to know what your reaction is once you have read some of the following recommended posts by those discussing troubled teens directly. I am purposely not listing posts that only deal with "how to" with a troubled teen:

9 from Nechama 13 from R' Dr. Benzion Twersky 47 from me 50 from me 64 from BT 65 from me 71 from me 72 from BT 75 from me 77 from anonymous 81 from me (by mistake written anonymous) 83 from Yoni 86 from Sherree 94 from me 97 from anonymous 103 from Yaffa 105 from Yoni

This is not to say that there are not many other insighful and helpful posts on this thread, I have just picked a few that will give you an idea of what we are talking about and dealing with when we discuss a "teen at risk".

I wish you much success with your journey in the chinuch of your children and hope that you never know the pain and struggles of those of us who are "in the parshah".


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188. to Abbi re: sending a child out of the home     12/27/07 - 9:17 AM
chana

Well, I think we've come full circle! This is just what the original artical was addressing. Again, I will have to say that since you are not dealing with a teen at risk there is a limit to your understanding of the derech that we use. Very quickly, I will paraphrase R' Horowitz's answer to the original article regarding reasons why one might consider sending a child away from home:

1. if he is self-destructing (substance abuse, for example)

2. if he is undermining the parent's authority or the quality of life at home

3. if there is a clear and present danger of another child in the family going off the derech

Baruch Hashem, our son does not fall under any of these categories. Nobody can give love like parents. And that is what these unhappy children need the most.


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189. Chana and AK     12/27/07 - 10:51 AM
Anonymous

Chana, your comments resonate clearly me, and are very rational. That may be because I have used similar techniques with my children, and they are real-world, practical strategies to raise a healthy family. These ideas are actually not new at all- I haven't read the choice theory book yet, but your concepts sound just like those I am familiar.

These concepts are taught in the book "How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk". The authors draw upon their experiences with Dr. Haim Ginot. I have been practically raised by Ginot's ideas, and the book has been part of my extended family's child raising probably since its first publishing, in 1982. Liberated Parents/Liberated Children are also by the same authors. Ginot, Faber, and Mazlish's ideas are the bedrock of my interaction with my own children, as I have learned when I myself was growing up.

So perhaps Choice Theory is just new packaging of Dr. Ginot's very old ideas that have helped parents who are today seasoned grandparents (I won't know this definitively until I read Glasser's book).

To AK:

I wrote previously, "For those who appreciate straight talk and know that convoluted philosophy does not equal good parenting, you got to the core of the matter."

After twisting the words to reflect some disturbing, dark meaning, and this was pointed out to you, you responded that "from the context of that response , and my posts , straight talking means to me , no nonsense , tough talk. As you say I am mistaken with my interpration"

Note that I did not say, for those children who appreciate straight talk, or for those parents who appreciate straight talk to children. I wrote for those who appreciate straight talk, and it is truly difficult for me to understand how anyone would take these words to mean anything but straight talk between we bloggers. In contrast to a smothering of verbiage that perhaps inadvertently clouds the basic issues and appears to cover up basic, wise parenting skills that many normal parents implement without needing to read through mountains of websites and new age books. At their core, your ideas are basic and good, but it is sometimes hard to see that through the extended verbiage and philosophical roller coasters. Parenthetically, the "let's bring Junior to the lighting store to explore" as a suggestion to child turning lights on and off in shul seems rather far fetched and a little convoluted, but that's me, I guess. As someone else suggested, this child needs to be distracted, perhaps explained in a non-emotional, non-confrontational tone that 'lights need to be left on on Shabbos', and most importantly, not to be brought to shul again at this age! This is what I mean by common sense parenting- don't bring your child to shul if he is not developmentally ready! No need for light stores and other other engaging activities... This is my perspective, anyways. If the other way works for others, Kol Hakovod. We are all different.

Also, why not just refer parents to explosivekids.org, like I have referred Ginot, Faber and Mazlish's works. Why repeat the whole basket theory, etc, etc, on Rabbi Horowitz's blog? These are not your personal ideas that you are sharing and brainstorming, as you have stated, these are "name brand" ideas (that doesn't take away from their potential validity, of course) that can easily be reviewed on the appropriate sites. And if it's the same Allan that is moderating the explosivekids site, you can refer parents to your words over there. I'm sure you do a lot of good on that site- this particular blog is not a one theory site like explosive kids (not to denigrate their opinions, which can be helpful to some), it's a collaborative discussion forum.

You wrote that "Various attempts have been made here to dismiss what I am saying". No one is dismissing them, they are debating them, or offering alternative perspectives, which is OK here. Please don't get defensive about the ideas- offer them just as any other "lay" individual here, and be prepared to listen to others as well. Really listen, just as children want to be really listened to, so do your fellow bloggers. If someone disagrees or offers a different, contrary perspective to yours, it's OK. It's not a personal "dismissal", it's a public blog. Rigidity is a destructive model for children. It is crucial for all adults to keep an open mind, accept that unless it's Torah MiSinai, the theories they personally apply are not "fool-proof", inviolate, or infallible. They are the product of human thinking, just as all of our thinking is. If something works for you, great. I know what works for me. But I try not to be dogmatic about it- that would be a very poor role model for my children, and impact my interaction and relationships with the adults I interface with. In order to prevent ourselves from controlling children, we need to learn how to refrain from attempting to "control" the adults around us. To join in interactive discussion with flexibility, and curiousity and genuine interest in the possible validity of alternative ways of thinking.

To Abby,

I agree with this statement: "But you're not doing you child any favors by refusing to set these types of boundaries and pretending they can always set the consequential terms of their negative behavior."

The nice policeman story was cute, but not representative of the world we live in. Boundaries and limit setting in a healthy, supportive, and interactive environment is to me, crucial for healthy living. I feel parents who believe otherwise are doing an injustice to their children. There is a happy, healthy medium to facilitating choice and setting boundaries, and both are needed to facilitiate the growth of thoughtful, independent, self-motivated and healthy children. I myself don't focus on boundaries and limit setting with teens, as I believe that my children have a healthy sense of accountability by the time they reach this age, and at this time the foundation of values, accountability, and deeply individualized self-actualization will stand them in good stead as journey through adolescence. Of course, a parent should stand by with support, love, a listening ear, and a skillful ability to facilitate problem solving should the child require such (and all teens hit rough spots where they need to reflect, bounce their ideas off a respectful, listening adult, and benefit from adult wisdom which is used to reflect the teen's ideas back to them and facilitate a "connecting of the dots"). But I don't feel teens need to be told, 'these are the house rules' etc etc, because by now they should have internalized these, and doing so causes resentment and a feeling of being controlled and manipulated. This begins in the preteen years, and parents can modify their parenting in accordance with the developmental stages of their children. Parents who are deeply in tune with their children can stay one step ahead. No, we do not use the same strategies with a toddler, with a child, with a teen, and with an adult. Some communication for the various developmental stages are very similiar, some very different.

I would be interested in hearing from other parents who disagree with me regarding my "don't set overt limits to teens" approach, and how they might approach parenting a teen.


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190. AK     12/27/07 - 12:36 PM
Anonymous

"You are reading a lot into my post which is not there and missing out on the message. As Ann Epstein says , an intentional teacher looks for teaching opportunities and providing kids with new learning experiences Intentional teachers use their knowledge, judgment, and expertise to organize learning experiences for children. And, "when an unexpected situation arises, as it always does," notes Dr. Epstein, "intentional teachers recognize a teaching opportunity and are able to take advantage of it."

Allen, this is exactly what many of us are trying to relate to YOU.

"if that would be respectful or William Glasser of Choice theory whom Sheree quotes asks if we use these methods on our friends and spouses , I asked Sheree these same questions. One of the ways of making punishments more aceptable to children is to call them consequences and even better getting kids input or letting them choose the consequence. Sheree did say let the kid choose the consequence which is better than only the parent deciding to withdraw a privelege ( in my language , a human right ).

Sherree never "quoted" Dr. Glasser in any of her posts, I checked. She also never said that the child should "choose their own consequence, she said and reiterated and explained her words for your benefit that the child should suggest and have input but in the end the parent should decide. So once again you distorted someone elses words which was credited to you a few times in this thread. It seems that what Sherree did mention in regarding another poster is becoming more clear that some people's need to be "right" is overwhelmingly more so than others' need to be understood.

In addition maybe you should learn the difference between basic rights and priveleges. There is a difference.

You can quote from as many reference books as you like, but you still manage to twist things to make others sound cruel and inhumane and make their methods sound vile and incorrect. Only your method seems to be right in your opinion. But as the ANON proved from your own example, you do things exactly as Sherree and others suggested in this thread but you yourself have chosen other "names" to describe it. Distraction is another form of control, and offering to go on an outing is another form of bribery and rewards. You yourself imposed the apology even if you are backpeddling and saying if the child is ready to do so. Of course no one is going to tie up a 5 year old and force him to apologize. Anon was right, and Sherre said it before, every teaching and learning experience goes hand in hand and is adjusted according to age and developmental ability. You are not the first person to say this.

So ANON was correct we are all saying the same thing under the cloak of different wording. Can we just all agree that it is possible to all be right without proving that someone else is wrong by twisting their words and pointing at them and with you especially using someone's name consistently and attributing falsely to what she said?


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191. to anon 12:36, gut gezugt     12/27/07 - 7:29 PM
tb

"If something works for you, great. I know what works for me. But I try not to be dogmatic about it- that would be a very poor role model for my children, and impact my interaction and relationships with the adults I interface with. In order to prevent ourselves from controlling children, we need to learn how to refrain from attempting to "control" the adults around us. To join in interactive discussion with flexibility, and curiousity and genuine interest in the possible validity of alternative ways of thinking."

Very well said. This needed to be said for a long time here and I couldn't do it as well as you just did. Thanks.


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192. badatz hechsher     12/31/07 - 4:52 AM
anoni

"Perhaps a hechsher on an establishment should involve business practices. In Eretz Yisroel, my favorite falafel shop had lost its hechsher from the Badatz of the Eidah Hacharedis when the mashgiach saw women sitting down with men (specifically listed on the poster with the hechsher as prohibited). We should have these other issues in mind, and keep everything in context."

I don't know what you're referring to exactly, but I don't think the standards of the edah hacharedis are appropriate for us here in the US, even in the Haredi community. It is one thing to discourage hanging out in pizza shops. But kids should be able to sit with their siblings, a girl should be able to say hello or talk a bit to a brother's friend and so on. Excessively stringent hassidic type standards can have a boomerang effect in our communities.


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193.     10/3/13 - 9:59 PM
Anonymous

Wow! I do not frequent this site but came here from a link elsewhere. I just wanted to say that I'm impressed. I haven't gathered my thoughts yet but this is awesome advice. (Coming from someone who's been "there".) If I would've had love and acceptance as a teenager, I doubt I would've gone that far. And even if how far I went wouldn't have changed, it still would've brought me back "home" faster (my opinion).

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