17 Shvat 5779 / Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: Yitro
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Everyone wants respect; we are commanded to give respect, especially to our parents. If we don't teach our kids how to respect us they are losing out even more than we are…


The less mastery we have over our own emotions, the more we attempt to control the behavior of the people around us. What's funny is that we often end up the ones being controlled. If I put someone else in charge of my equanimity, I am a victim to how they act.


I've seen many young parents give into unreasonable demands because they prefer to avoid the discomfort of withstanding their child's temper tantrum, rather than learn to tolerate the crying and sulking. Why is it so hard to tolerate a child's unhappiness, frustration or rage?


The personal claim the parent may be subconsciously holding onto, is that child-rearing should be fairly easy or that their child must always be happy. If not, they may believe that they are failing to live up to their image of what parenting should look like. Parents may also be so emotionally needy themselves that having their child be displeased with them, even momentarily, is very threatening to their self-esteem. To be at odds with one's child is never pleasant but it is almost never catastrophic.


Your four year old does not have to approve of your boundaries, he does not have to appreciate your refusal to let him play with your phone. In fact, you may become his enemy, the one who thwarts his deepest desire! He doesn't care that you won't let him eat sugar all day because you love him, he is much happier with you when you let him have as much as he wants.


Insecure parents may doubt their ability to stand up to their children, to follow through with discipline or to insist on appropriate behavior in social situations. They second guess themselves constantly and get manipulated again and again. This caving in reinforces the child's defiance, whining or even physically acting out. I have known children who hit or bite their parents when they don't get what they want. Children are power- hungry little people despite their innocence and charm and if they can figure out how to control mommy, they will not hesitate to do so.


The sages have explained that as the Messianic period draws closer, chutzpa (brazenness) will increase. So the lack of respect we are seeing in our young ones is a spiritual malady as well as the result of poor parenting skills, poor diet, learning disabilities or mental illness. What is beyond our control we have to leave for God but whatever actions we can take to influence our children we must not shirk.


Parents need to understand their own insecurities, their own craving for validation from their children and their teenagers. We may have to examine our own fear of rejection, where it comes from and how it affects us. We need to question the limits we place on our kids and how we define a healthy and successful child. While we are certainly obligated to be patient with our children, to be kind and affectionate, to avoid destructive practices like name-calling, comparing or cruelty in any form. Children need the comfort and security of trusting that their parents will guide them in the right direction. People love and cherish those who bring out the best in them, who have realistic but high expectations of who they can be. We must also strive to raise a child who is honest and has good social skills, so that he will find grace in the eyes of others.


When you teach your child how to apologize nicely (not with a half-hearted shrug), share his toys, throw his wrapper in the trash (not the street), give up his seat to a senior or offer a guest a drink, you have shown your child more love and respect than giving in to him ever can. When you limit his use of technology it must be out of genuine concern for his cognitive and spiritual capabilities, not because “the school doesn't let.”


Having children gives us a glimpse into how Hashem “feels” towards us. He loves us unconditionally, more than we can ever imagine, but at the same time, He expects an awful lot. We have so many rules that teach us proper behavior towards Him, towards others and towards ourselves. Real etiquette is not out of fashion in God's book, which is the Emily Post for eternity. Human nature is the same as it's always been and the emotional needs of people are universal. Everyone wants respect and we are commanded to give respect, especially to our parents. If we don't teach our kids how to respect us they are losing out even more than we are.


Honoring one's parents is rewarded with “length of days” and is also one of the commandments that bears fruit mainly in the World To Come.


Let's insure long life for the children we love and help them cash in at the Big Bank above.



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Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il 

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