Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nisan 5766 - April 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Young Adults & Kibud Av V'em
Or — How to Be a Lovable child

by Dena Newman

Articles, books and classes abound today to facilitate the child-rearing process. We are fortunate to have them, and parents should avail themselves of the opportunity to learn from them, and thereby do the best they can in raising children.

Perhaps, as our community ages, it is time to provide information to these very children about how to relate to their parents. Despite many families' best efforts, there seems to be confusion, dissatisfaction, a lack of something in the relationship. It seems that many children, now grown, feel that they were not raised properly.

Many children seem to have very high expectations of what their parents 'owe' them yet seem to think they 'owe' their parents nothing. Especially as they read these very materials designed to help parents, they may think, 'if only my parents had done this . . . but since they made so many mistakes, they are not even really 'parents,' deserving of any respect.' Although this may sound extreme, and many children do not feel this way, it seems, based on the information coming through in various ways, that a not insignificant segment of our children have such feelings, to some extent.

Parents themselves are in a Catch-22. They raised these children. If the parents aren't satisfied with their children's behavior, they can only blame themselves — is the opinion of some.

How can young adults, who have come to realize that something is wrong, rectify the situation, from their side? What is the proper way for them to relate to their parents, despite the fact that for whatever reason, this proper behavior is not ingrained in them? They need to work on a few different middos, and can begin with an 'as if' attitude.

We learn that our external behavior has a great influence on our thoughts. The first step needs to be acting in a respectful way. It can be very difficult, as perhaps the parents don't seem to deserve it, or don't accept the behavior graciously, or other types of challenges. The main thing is, keep acting respectful. That can be a vague term; here are some specifics:

1. Hold your parents in high esteem, as if they were dignitaries. Think: These people are Nobel Prize winners!

2. Address them respectfully at all times. Always strive to use a pleasant tone of voice.

3. Attempt to glorify their name. That is, as you speak to friends or relatives and your parents are mentioned, think of something complimentary to say about them.

4. Develop in yourself feelings of awe and fear toward your parents. This especially will do wonders for your avodas Hashem. Feel free to use your imagination to make the feelings more real. Some useful props can be thunder and lightning, inheritance, or triple-decker sundaes.

5. Take care not to offend. This is easier when you master the skill of thinking before you speak. Consider how you would feel if such a remark were made to you, or your spouse. When in doubt, leave it out.

6. Eliminate interruptions, contradictions, corrections (except when urgent), arguments. Actually, even saying 'I agree' is not permitted, as it is as if you are setting yourself up as a judge.

7. Do not attempt to `educate' your parents.

8. Develop in yourself a sincere desire to please. Try to pre- empt parental requests. Offer your help when you are able to in a specific way. It can be small, like taking out the trash; it can be big like taking them or your younger siblings out for a few hours.

9. Rise when they enter the room, escort them as they leave, ask permission to leave their presence.

10. Be ready to apologize when you are remiss.

Naturally, this is not a one-day or even one-month program. It will take years. As long as you are progressing, you will come to experience great satisfaction. Side benefits abound:

1. Self respect will become a by product of your showing respect.

2. Your other relationships can flourish as you come to show respect and behave in a humble manner with everyone.

3. Your avodas Hashem will take become more meaningful.

Just reading this and considering this path means you are a special person. Make the most of yourself — become a loveable child.


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