Posts tagged " children "

Did You Respond ‘Yes’?

June 27th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 6 comments

Here is a quick yes/no quiz which will reveal important information about your personality:

  • Do you occasionally make thoughtless remarks which you later regret?
  • Are you usually concerned about the need to protect your health?
  • Is it normally hard for you to own up and take the blame?
  • Do you sometimes resent the efforts of others to tell you what to do?
  • Do your past failures sometimes worry you?
  • Do you have a small circle of friends rather than a large number of acquaintances?
  • Do you sometimes find it difficult to express your emotions?
  • Would the idea of making a complete new start cause you any concern?
  • Do you find it challenging to ‘start the ball rolling’ at social gatherings?
  • Do you ever find yourself wondering if anyone really cares about you?
  • Are there any things about yourself on which you are a bit touchy?
  • Do you sometimes put off doing things and then discover it is too late?
  • Do you ever feel that your age is against you (too young or too old)?

Finished?  Now, how many times did you answer ‘yes’?  More than 3? More than 8? What! You answered ‘yes’ to more than 10 of the questions? Well, then you clearly need to purchase our special program for social stragglers available at a special price of only $10,000.  (Just joking)  The above questions came from a Scientology questionnaire but they resemble the questions often crafted by hucksters of all kinds trying to prey on our all too human weaknesses.

It is of course easy to come up with questions that most people will identify with and to which they will nod their heads affirmatively.  Here is another good one:

Do you feel that many of your problems were caused by your parents?

There are armies of therapists, analysts and psychologists making enviably lavish livings doing nothing but listening to their clients complain about how their parents ruined their lives. Often, they encourage their clients in those beliefs.

Of course, our parents provided our DNA but it is equally true that they provided us with much more than our eye color and other biological realities.  They provided us with the start of our value system and certain character traits.  This is why we sometimes catch ourselves talking to our children in the same words that our parents used with us many years ago.

They almost certainly bequeathed us some negative characteristics against which we must struggle.  They also gave us much of our talent and our inbuilt aptitudes.  Are our lives impacted by our parents and how they raised us?  Of course, hugely.  Are we therefore condemned to relive our parents’ mistakes and passively endure any negative circumstances of our birth and upbringing?  Of course not.  Consider Abraham.

…originally your ancestors lived across the river;
Terach was the father of Abraham, and of Nachor;
and they served other gods…

(Joshua 24:2)

Abraham’s father was an idolater which helps us understand why God told Abraham:

Go away from your land, your relatives,
and your father’s house to a land that I’ll show you.

(Genesis 12:1)

Just as Abraham was not condemned by his parental background to follow into the worship of idols, neither are we forced to do anything because of our own parental background.

Because real life is complex and often messy, there are subtleties beneath the surface.  See these verses:

These are the chronicles of Terach; Terach gave birth to Abram, Nachor,
and Charan, and Charan gave birth to Lot. 

(Genesis 11:27)

Terach took his son Abram, and Lot, the son of Charan, his grandson,
and his daughter-in-law Sarai the wife of Abram his son,
and they departed together from Ur Kasdim to go to the land of Canaan;
and they arrived in Charan and they settled there.

 (Genesis 11:31)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that late in life Terach renounced idolatry and commenced a spiritual odyssey.  He removed his family from an area with bad influences but never made it to his intended destination of Canaan. Nonetheless, his effort bequeathed to his son, Abram, the ability to more willingly make a change in life.

Thus, when God eventually told Abraham to leave his family and start his own journey, Abraham was primed to do so, partially because he had seen his father doing the same thing. Efforts and changes we institute in our lives, even if they fail or are only incremental, can propel our descendants in the right direction.

Obviously our parents impact our lives.  If we were fortunate in the ovarian lottery then most of the impact from our parents is for good.  However, even in those cases, there are also inevitably some destructive elements in our legacies. Like Abraham, we each must grab the power to shape our own destinies.  We should vehemently reject the notion that we are helpless victims of our parents’ biology or mistakes. Most importantly, we should shoulder the responsibility of gifting our children with the strongest foundation we can give them.

On the television show that Susan and I enjoy hosting we often let down our hair a little, as it were.  We get a bit personal, sometimes talking about our parents and extended family.  We lovingly smile at memories, even some mixed ones, and we hope that in time, our own children will do the same.  Were some things in our lives more challenging because of our parents?  Of course. Many more things were made possible by those same parents.  They did their best for us, just as we hope we shall be seen to have done for our children.

Do you ever wonder what your children really think of you?  You answered ‘Yes’?  Well then you certainly need our special 3 DVD set of Ancient Jewish Wisdom!  (Just joking—but it is really a good buy!) We hope you will enjoy twelve of our most popular shows on DVD and available, on sale, right now.

 

ON SALE NOW: Ancient Jewish Wisdom DVD Set

Our son just ‘came out.’

June 14th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 48 comments

How do I answer my son who has declared he is homosexual?  My beliefs are against this practice.

L.

Dear L.,

You must be in tremendous pain and we pray that you feel ‘hugs’ from God as you go through this time.

So many parents are undergoing this challenge in our days. The entire ethos surrounding us says that this is your problem not your son’s, and, yet, you are faithful to a tradition that existed for centuries before ‘modern’ thinking came into vogue and will still be around when the ‘modern’ becomes old-fashioned.

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I feel isolated because I don’t have children

May 3rd, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 19 comments

Thank you for your teachings. I am a Christian who grew up in a traditional Christian home and graduated from Christian school. Now, as an adult married 17 years to my Christian husband; however, I have no children due to an ongoing illness. 

I am now coping with the reality that I will likely never have children.  I am now in my forties. This has been a great disappointment for me. I have seen many childless women groups on the internet, but I am careful who I take advice from. I should add that my husband and I have a wonderful marriage, but I am wondering how I best serve the Lord though I am not a mother?  

What makes this most difficult is that I feel socially isolated. I have been reading my Bible and searching scripture for my new purpose. Are there any biblical scriptures you suggest? 

Thank you for taking the time to consider my question.

Elizabeth

Answer: 

Dear Elizabeth,

You are, indeed, going through a difficult challenge.  The Bible leaves much unsaid about the emotional pain felt in many heart-breaking situations, but when it comes to childlessness it gives us numerous examples of women suffering devastating pain because they couldn’t conceive. We are sure that surrendering the dream of having children is almost unbearable.

We are going to assume that you and your husband have decided against adoption or you would have phrased your question differently. Perhaps you have also thought of foster parenting and rejected that idea for your own reasons. We do suggest that you find some way, whether within your own extended family or by reaching outside that group, to connect to the next generation. It is important for all of us to envision a future that lasts beyond ourselves.

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Should I pay for chores or give an allowance?

March 28th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 17 comments

 

As my children help with chores around the house, should I reward them for the work done or give an allowance instead?

Thanks,

Doland B.

Answer: 

Dear Doland,

Ask ten parents this question and you will likely receive ten different  answers. Ask one parent at ten different times in his or her children’s life and you will likely receive different answers as well. Enter the words, “Should I pay my child to do chores?” into a search engine and many discussions of allowances will come up as well.

We actually don’t have a horse in this race. We think the important thing is to realize that whatever decisions about finances you make teaches your children some moral message so it is worth your while trying to focus on what messages about family, work and money you want to convey to your child. In our opinion, these should include:

  1. Every member of a family contributes to the functioning and success of that group. Parents and children both fulfill responsibilities because that is what people in a loving group do.  Depending on the children’s ages, make sure they understand that parents don’t just get to do whatever they want either.  Everyone plays a role. The reward is intrinsic. Normal cooperation in keeping the house running, cleaning up after oneself and helping other members of the family are standard and expected behaviors. In the Lord’s language the word for ‘family’ actually means ‘we each serve one another.’ (more…)

Wanna Talk About Me

February 9th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

Toby Keith’s country music song, I Wanna Talk About Me always makes me laugh. It stops being funny when it isn’t about a guy who says to his girlfriend, “I like talking about you, you, you, usually, but occasionally I wanna talk about me,” and instead represents the plea of children to the adults in their lives.

We live in strange times. Many parents are clueless. In the 1940s, Mama’s Bank Account was a popular book. Renamed as I Remember Mama it became a movie, play and TV show. It was a peek into author Kathryn Forbes’ Norwegian grandparents’ lives as they raised a family in the United States. The title story, if memory serves me correctly, was how her grandmother frequently spoke about a bank account that could be accessed in an emergency, thus providing her children with a sense of financial security. Only when the children grew up did they find out that there wasn’t really any savings account and how vulnerable they truly had been.

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How do I raise my son in the ways of the Bible?

August 1st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

I am a Christian who lives in Indonesia. I am a frequent listener of your podcast and blessed to find tremendous wisdom in your teaching. I am keen to learn about the root of my faith from Hebrew Bible, at which I believe, as you believe, as a God-given blueprint for our life.

As a recent father, it is my desire to show my child the way of the Lord. Thus, I have a question; what is the best way to teach Torah to our children (especially toddler to under 12 years of age). What is the best method/technique to convey the narrative to them while at the same time conveying the wisdom/substance (which some stories I find them may not be suitable for children. I want to learn from your perspective as rabbi and Jewish parents on how to impart your wisdom to your children.

Thank you and God bless,

∼ Nugroho H.

Dear Nugroho,

Congratulations on the new blessing and challenge in your life. You are asking a wonderful question. Wouldn’t it be nice if for $99 you could purchase a curriculum that would guarantee that your children will view the Bible the way you do? Of course, no such program exists.  (more…)

Should we homeschool?

June 2nd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

“How do you feel about home schooling? My wife and I are thinking of doing this to finish educating our two daughters who are now in 4th and 6th grades.”

∼ Heath N.

Answer:

Dear Heath,

This question is like telling the late Steve Jobs that you are thinking of switching from Microsoft to Apple and asking what he thinks about that. In total, we homeschooled for about sixteen years. One of our children was home for only one year, most spent some time in high school and for some, college was their first entry into the organized educational system.

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Should I stop my child playing?

March 3rd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

Dear Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin,

I am a Christian woman who is enjoying the journey of learning our Jewish roots. I recently ordered your library collection and I am quite enraptured in the wisdom that is shared. You are absolutely right when you say, ‘You need a rabbi!’ 

I have a question regarding children and playing pretend. Growing up I often played pretend, most often pretending to be different people in different careers. Occasionally though, I would pretend to be a cat or dog. I never thought anything of it as I have so often heard and seen children pretend to be animals at some point in time. After listening to your teachings though on how God made us in His image, I question whether pretending to be an animal in playtime would be forbidden in a Jewish home. When we pretend to be a grocer, doctor, mother or superhero, we are serving humanity and setting our mind on things that God would want us to do or character traits God wants us to have; whereas if we pretend to be an animal, we are not preparing ourselves in any way for growth. 

Am I taking this too far? I am not a wife or mother yet but should I ever become one, I hope to raise my children in a way that pleases the Lord.

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Should we use plastic bottles?

January 21st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My daughter is off to college and came home talking about how plastic water bottles, when left out in the sun (like, she said so many markets do) causes the plastic to release cancer causing chemicals. Her answer to this was more stringent regulation against super markets. How would you answered her question on how to handle that?
 
Thanks! I love your podcast and just finished the first 5 chapters of your book (love it) Thou Shall Prosper.

∼ Darryl J.

Answer:

Dear Darryl,
You have a great opportunity to help broaden your daughter’s outlook and help her be a concerned, informed and thoughtful citizen. The downside (or upside, depending on your attitude) of this is that it will take time and effort on your part.

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My daughter is marrying out of the church

October 1st, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I brought up all my three children in the church. My daughter is is getting married very soon, and will not have a clergy or a pastor officiating at the wedding. I am hurt that God will not be at their wedding.
 
How can I come to terms with this? It is as if she is turning her back on our Lord.

∼ Fran F.

Answer:

Dear Fran,

Even before we give birth to our children, we give birth to hopes and dreams for their lives. We pray for their physical health and safety and for their spiritual health and safety as well. We do more than pray; we buy car seats and bike helmets, we bring them to church or synagogue, celebrate holidays and speak to them of God. Yet, despite our efforts, we are not able to control events or them.

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