Dear Dr. Ballen,
You wrote: "Children will only accept guidance from parents who love them when they are 'failing'; who advocate for them when they are not 'succeeding'; who protect them from dishonor and self-doubt; and who accept upon themselves the full responsibility of being a parent."
With ALL respect - who told you that? I have done ALL OF THE ABOVE ... and much more .....and your formula simply doesn't work .
Children today don't accept guidance because the secular education and the decayed society they live in tell them not to. We mothers have also been subjected to Rabbis who scream at us to "take your nose out of your children's marriage." What do they want us to do - passively watch our children playing emotional suicide? Those Rabbis empower children to push their parents our of the picture.
The children of today don't accept guidance because they are a rebellious and arrogant generation; and to accept advice from their parents is to validate their council - which is supposed to be discarded.
Today's children don't worry about being dishonored by their parents - they lack the necessary shame.
You and I belong to a previous generation where honor, respect, guidance, love and care were part of our educational package - and we responded to that!
Dr. Ballen, I would appreciate you're reconsidering your statement unless you can show me where can I find those words in the Holy Torah!
Have a blessed Shabbat,
* * *
It takes enormous patience and wisdom to be a parent. That's why King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live warns us: "...do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) Who amongst us can possibly grasp with his own intelligence, the wisdom that one needs to be a parent in this generation without the help of a tzaddick.
Devorah, you can be sure that nothing that I write about parenting is from my own intelligence or 'formula'. Whatever little I 'know' about parenting I know is correct because I received it from my beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush, who received it from his teacher Rabbi Eliezer Berland who received it from his teacher Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender who received it from his teacher Rabbi Abraham Chazan who received it from his father, who was the closest disciple of Rebbi Nasan of Breslev who received it from Rebbe Nachman of Breslev himself - Rabbi Nachman was the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov.
Anyone who thinks that he knows something about parenting that Rebbe Nachman, the Baal Shem Tov and our Sages didn't know - stop right here.
The Sages won't be insulted.
Devorah, It's written "...reverence for your teacher should be as your reverence for Heaven. (Pirkei Avos, 4:15) I don't need Torah sources to teach me about my obligation to honor my kids - it's enough for me that this teaching was faithfully transmitted through the generations to my Rebbi, Rabbi Shalom Arush, through the spiritual giants that I've mentioned.
Nevertheless, you asked for sources, so let's get started:
Devorah, the Mishna says: "Who is honored? He who honors others..." ( Pirkei Avos, 4:2). Yes it's true that children have the commandment to honor their parents - but it's impossible for them to honor their parents if their parents don't first honor them in a deep consistent way for many years - even when they don't act like angels.
The holy sage, Abarbanel tells us precisely that children will not be able to return the love and respect to their parents that they never received in the first place. He said: "Man can give only what he possesses; only an honorable person can accord honor to others." The opposite is also true. If children are dishonorable towards their parents it is a clear sign that their parents either did not invest enough warmth and time in them, or failed to shield them from harm. In more than 30 years of practice, I have never seen an exception to the teaching of our Sages.
Rav Arush warns us not to blame a parent who dishonors his child. He sees good in everybody. Even a parent who attacks and screams at his children wants to be able to love and honor them - he simply can't (yet) because he has nothing to give his children except the evil that was put into him. However, it is a grave error for such a parent to think that his children intentionally wanted to cause him harm, deprive him of parental satisfaction or reject his guidance.
The main reason that each of us was brought into this world is to perfect our character -not the character of others. Every child wants to accept guidance from his parents, but will only do so if he knows with certainty that he won't be shamed in the slightest for his mistakes. A parent cannot perfect his child's loving kindness only his own. When we stay focused on working on ourselves in earnest and loving our children unconditionally, Hashem does the rest and our children learn from our example.
We learn from the Baal Shem Tov that whatever defects of character we see in others (including our children) is a Hashem's way of mirroring back to us our obligation to fix the very same trait in ourselves. The idea that the world is a mirror that reflects back to us the personality characteristics that need correcting in ourselves has been a fundamental Jewish concept for ages.
Once a young man knocked on Rabbi Shalom Arush's door and told Rabbi Arush that he had committed the worst sin in the Torah. Rav Arush turned to him and said: 'I'm sorry but I can only see good in you.'
There's a similar story about the Chofetz Chaim. A very suspicious looking man once knocked on the door of the Chofetz Chaim's home. He asked if he could spend the night. The family was against the idea but the Chofetz Chaim welcomed him in anyway. Late that night, the man helped himself to everything of value that he could find and sped out of the house and down the street. The family woke up and ran after the man accusing him of theft. The Chofetz Chaim also ran after him but yelled out: 'don't worry...you can have it...it's all yours!"
Since the Chofetz Chaim was incapable of taking anything that wasn't his, he could not see that evil quality in someone else. When the man took items from his house, the Chofetz Chaim knew that, in Heaven, those items had been given to his guest.
Rav Arush who has helped tens of thousands of parents, refers to the parent's love for their children as a protective wall that surrounds the house. He says that when that wall-of-love is strong children develop beautifully even if they live in the worst neighborhoods; and if there isn't sufficient love between parent and child - even the best neighborhoods will not save that child from a terrible outcome. G-d forbid.
Here's one more source for you, Devorah: Rabbi Elazar said: "let your fellow's honor be as dear to you as your own and do not anger easily.." (Pirkei Avos 2:15) The Midrash Shmuel says something beautiful about this. He says that a person may think that it's not fair that he is honoring another person when the other person is not honoring him back. To correct this faulty perspective the Midrash Shmuel teaches: "Let the honor that one receives from others seem as special as the honor that one gives to others..."
Rebbe Nachman advises us to make the honor of Heaven more important than our own personal honor. When you next speak with your children, Devorah, remember how much honor you're giving to Hashem by loving your children unconditionally. With emuna, everything is reversible!
You should see Abundant Blessings soon,
Dr. Zev Ballen
* * *
Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can see Dr. Zev's live video broadcast every Wednesday at 5pm Israel time here on breslev.co.il. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: email@example.com. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.