Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5762 - March 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
You Think You're the Only One?

by R' Zvi Zobin

Him/her: I don't want to!

(1)You: But you have to...

Him/her: But I don't want to!

You: But I said you have to!

Him/her: Why me? You always tell me to do it! Why do I always have to do it?

You: It's your job. Why do I always have to make your breakfast, lunch, supper, wash your clothes... (continue the list until s/he understands that it is not a productive argument).

Him/her: Why can't Yanky / Sorele / Moishy etc. do it? They can also do it!

You: Moishy is not back from yeshiva; Yanky did it yesterday and Sorele did it two days ago and now it's your turn. You have to do it!

Him/her: But before that I always did it. (Pause for a moment of thought.) Why can't Chezky do it? He has never done it!

You: Chezky is only two years old and he is too young. He cannot do it yet.

Him/her: When I was two years old you always made me do it!

You: You only started doing it last year!

Him/her: So let Yanky do it today and I'll do it tomorrow.

You: Yanky cannot do it today.

S/he now goes through all eligible members of the immediate family, relatives and neighbors and you explain why each of them is not a valid choice for the job.

Him/her: Why can't you do it?

S/he has now crossed the red line. If you would have been so chutzpadik when you were a child, you would have gotten a good potch on the duly designated part of the body, even in front of impartial witnesses. Nowadays, life is not so simple.

You: That is chutzpa (as if s/he did not know). If you talk like that to me again, I will... (Here insert some blood-chilling threat like "I'll tell Abba/Ima" or "I will confiscate all your Rabbonim cards" or "You will not be allowed to go on the outing." Preferably, it should be something you can actually fulfill.

Him/her: You are always threatening me! You always pick on me! Always! Always! Always!

S/he starts to cry hysterically, acting the oppressed victim -- a classic technique.

You: I'm not threatening you (tactical withdrawal). I'm just telling you what I will have to do if you refuse to listen to me.

Him/her: But I can't. My head / tummy / arms / legs / whatever hurts. I can't! I can't! (S/he now starts writhing and groaning in pain.)

You: Oy vey! What's happened? You were okay when you were playing with your friends five minutes ago!

Him/her: (between teeth gritted in pain) No! No! It's really been hurting me the whole time and now it's getting much worse! (The writhing and groaning intensify.)

You: So let's go to the doctor! Should I call an ambulance? If it's hurting you so much, you definitely won't be able to... (insert here some sort of unpleasant consequence like "play with your friends for the rest of the day" or "go to the simcha tonight".)

The pain now begins to recede and s/he gradually regains consciousness.

Him/her: Okay! I will do it, but not now. I'll do it later.

You: When?

Him/her: Later. (Too vaguely defined -- clearly an open-ended delaying tactic.)

You: When later?

Him/her: Ummm... Ummm... After I've finished this apple / read this chapter / do a homework assignment / whatever.

You know s/he can suck on an apple core for hours, take all day to finish the chapter, do homework for hours etc. -- another open-ended delaying tactic.

You: No! You have to tell me exactly when.

Him/her: Okay! I'll do it in ten minutes time.

You: You promise?

Him/her: Sure I promise! You know me! If I say I'll do something, I'll do it!

You: (smothering the feeling of incredulity) Okay!

Ten minutes later...

You: Nu? Ten minutes are up. You have to do it now!

Him/her: I don't want to.

You: But you promised!

Him/her: I didn't promise. I only said that I would do it and the teacher said in class that only saying does not make a contract.

You: You did promise and even if just saying is not a contract, you still have to keep your word. And anyway, I'm telling you to do it NOW!

Him/her: I don't want to do it.

Return to (1) at the top of the column and continue from there.

Prayer for parents, to be inserted in "Shema Koleinu" or to be said when required -- "Please grant me an endless supply of patience!"

[Or the courage to administer the proper potch or ultimatum at any designated point in the dialogue.]


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