TRENDING TODAY

The non-Grandmother

What kind of grandparent are you? Alternatively, what kind of grandparent do you picture yourself being in the future? We have all read of the different styles of parenting. Like the bowls of porridge that Goldilocks tasted, we are told that authoritarian parents are too rigid, permissive parents aren’t rigid enough and authoritative parents are just right. But what about grandparents? Those categories aren’t necessarily relevant.

I ask this question because over the past few years I have noticed that many of the grand-parenting experiences of my friends and relatives are completely different from what we saw growing up.

Here are the three kinds of grandmothers that I see: .

  1. The grandmother who is in the role of mother
    2. The non-grandmother
    3. The more-or-less traditional grandmother

The saddest type of grandmother-mother is the result of tragedy. The parents are no longer alive, or they are ill or missing in action. The grandmother steps in and for all intents and purposes replaces the mother 24/7.

The type of grandmother-mother that I see more commonly, however, is not the result of tragic circumstances but of choice. I am seeing women in their fifties and sixties retiring from their jobs in order to take care of their grandchildren so that their own daughters can focus on their careers.

Some of these women  were stay-at-home moms themselves. They are now putting ‘all-those-things-I’m-going-to-do-once-the-kids-are-grown’ on the shelf and instead they’re digging out Candyland® and Play-doh® once again.

In most instances I’ve observed, the daughters are professionals. After years of training, they  earn good salaries  but their jobs also demand long hours of work and their student debt is often staggeringly high. Even if they are married to hard-working and productive husbands, making a decision to stay at home now would precipitate  an economic crisis. Did the daughters say, “I’ve signed baby up at a wonderful daycare,” and their mothers responded by insisting that they would take care of everything? Did the daughters plead with their mothers, eventually wearing them down? Was the decision somewhere in between? I don’t know.  However, providing the bulk of childcare for a toddler or school-age child is a big responsibility. The treats and surprises that grandmothers love to deliver must fall into second place behind those parenting realities such as nutrition, manners and discipline.

I am also seeing more and more peers falling into the non-grandmother group. They raised their daughters to be career-minded women. They gave their girls pep talks on how they could be anything they wanted to be and encouraged them to set their sights high. They urged their girls to establish themselves in a profession and enjoy a variety of experiences before “settling down.”  What the mothers didn’t realize is that they failed to impart to their daughters the wonder and fulfillment that can come from being a wife and mother.

Some of these mothers themselves didn’t start their families until they were in their late thirties. If they had one or at the most two children at that point and their daughters behave similarly, simple mathematics decrees that the years available for grandmother-hood are limited. They are hurting now, but it’s as if they never looked down the road to see the path that they were constructing.

I do see this phenomenon much more among my less-religious friends than among those who are traditionally connected with their faith. Whether Jewish, Catholic, or Christian, those of us “mature” ladies who went against the cultural messages beamed out since the Sixties often had had more children than the 2.1 fertility replacement rate. We also saw raising these children as our main profession (even if we worked outside the home) and the major source of blessing in our lives. With God’s grace, many of us successfully transmitted that message to our own daughters and we gratefully reap the rewards.

This means that we fall into category number three. While our lives obviously don’t mimic that of our grandmothers, in many cases, as it relates to our grandchildren, they aren’t that far off either. One of my young granddaughters said this to her mother regarding a standard Grandma Camp lunch offering: “You’re so lucky. You could have a chocolate spread/marshmallow fluff sandwich for lunch whenever you wanted!” She did not understand why her mother burst out in hysterical laughter. But then, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that when my mother and her four siblings were growing up in a small apartment in the aftermath of the Depression, there wasn’t an entire drawer filled with comic books as my cousins and I enjoyed at our grandparents’ home.

There are so many by-products of the belittling of marriage, motherhood, and large families that emerged in the past few decades. Among them is that, at the same time as people are often staying vibrant and healthy to an older age, they are missing out on one of the greatest gifts of those advancing years.

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I Have So Many Interests – How Do I Monetize Them?

This is Omar E. – born in Rome from Egyptian muslim father and Italian catholic mum.

I just recently discovered your material and I quickly became addicted to it. I would like to ask you something – what’ s your views on destiny? And more in detail – are some people destined to be failures?

I am 36 years old and I have always been a passionate learner. Throughout my life I have been involved in various different fields – I have a Jazz drums degree, been cooking in some of the most prestigious kitchen in the world, got a Sommelier certification, I have been trading stocks for 4 years while studying various types of technical analysis (TPO, Market Profile, Point and Figure, Fundamentals and more).

While I am very proud of all the things I have learnt, I have never been able to monetize as much as I wanted. Once I felt I started to master a certain profession – I quickly began to lose interest and my attention and focus went somewhere else… But now I am struggling to provide money for my family, and this is very frustrating. It seems to me that for some folks success just come easy, while all my efforts for some reason don’t produce the wanted outcome.

I have a great wife and daughter – and I am very grateful for that – but now I am just wondering whether I should just accept that I am a great fast-learning person, but making money is not in my destiny.

Hope to hear from you, thanks for your time.

Faithfully,

Omar E.

Dear Omar,

We are intrigued by your unusual background and are so happy you wrote to us.  Your letter spoke to our hearts , especially since your decisions greatly impact the lives of two other people, your wife and daughter. However, we did say to ourselves, “Surely we’ve discussed this before?”

Our quick search of Ask the Rabbi questions and answers over the past ten years revealed a number of people who wrote with similar questions (a sample of which we will link to at the bottom). But here’s our not-surprising conclusion: each individual faces his or her own background, challenges, rationalization of behavior and life-path. As such, we hope that each time we answer a similar question, we hope that we can add something additional to whatever we said before.

Here is one paragraph we previously wrote that you will find that in general summarizes our responses:

Leaving aside luck, acts of God and genetics, 90% of everything that happens in your life is the result of things you have done or not done.  This is particularly true in our business and financial lives.  Now is a really good time to stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right ones.

Here is the new information we would like to add.

There are many myths that abound in society. If you and your wife have been married for any length of time, you know that the words with which so many fairy-tales close, “and they lived happily ever after,” are misleading. More accurate phrases would be, “and they worked on themselves and their marriage to live happily ever after,” or, “and they faced challenges but were committed to facing them together and overcoming them, leading to living happily ever after.”

Now let’s examine your situation as you’ve described it.  (And we admire your self-awareness and honesty.  It bodes well for the changes you must make.)  Here are about 30 words from a book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Do they remind you of you? 

“Alf was a jack-of-all-trades, carpenter, tinsmith, blacksmith, electrician, plasterer, scissors grinder, and cobbler.  Alf could do anything, and as a result he was a financial failure although he worked all the time.”

You see, Omar, God built a world in which He wants His children to connect with one another and need one another.  We can most help other people when we become supremely competent specialists in some chosen field rather than being a little good at a lot of things.

Omar, how would you answer someone who wrote to us saying, “Successful marriage seems to elude me. Each time I’m happy with someone, I begin to lose interest and focus and my attention moves on to someone else. Am I just destined to have bad marriages?”  You get the point, we are certain.

Financial prosperity operates under the same rules. One of the enduring economic myths  is the idea of “striking it rich.” That implies a rapid change in circumstance. The odds of that happening are incredibly low. In general, financial stability and wealth result from  building  a reputation and acquiring skills by accumulating experience and connections in the specific field in which you’ve chosen to labor. For this reason, any professional  who works five to six long days a week for a number of years will usually earn considerably more per hour than another who dabbles at the same profession, choosing to work only three days a week.

You have yourself accurately identified  the very probable cause of your lack of prosperity. You seem to be confusing your love of eclectic learning with the work you do to serve others. By all means, keep growing and learning. Develop and maintain hobbies and interests.  But direct a large portion of your effort  to one field so that you build a continuous trajectory of accomplishment and service.  You will undoubtedly need to work through difficult times at work. Those challenges are no excuses to quit  and start over at entry level  doing something entirely different. .

Do we think there is such a thing as being destined to be poor? God is in ultimate control of our lives, but He most often leads us on the path in which we set out. Your self-chosen path is a tragic path to poverty and we want to see you dramatically changing   your own direction. We feel sure you can.

Here are two previous Ask the Rabbi columns you might find applicable:

https://rabbidaniellapin.com/am-i-being-stopped-from-fulfilling-my-potential/

https://rabbidaniellapin.com/help-i-dont-have-a-work-ethic/

We are happy to welcome you to our teachings, and we look forward to hearing from you again with happy accounts of great success and prosperity,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

What is the Biblical way to view money and business?
What does that mean in practical terms?
What steps can I take to succeed financially?

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P.S. Would you like to discuss your thoughts on this Ask the Rabbi with other interested readers? We always welcome and almost always respond to comments left on this page. But if you would like to enter into discussion with like-minded-people on this or other topics, head over to the Friends of Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin group on Facebook and chat away. See you there!

 

Of Boats and Businesses

Like many of you, I find myself turning to online videos for information. Instead of reading through a dense and confusing manual or using a process of trial and error, I simply need to type a few words into my search engine to see step-by-step instructions for changing a water filter, manipulating the settings in my car or, should I ever be so inclined, how to fold a fitted bed sheet. If I follow the steps, I will accomplish my task. On a larger scale, carefully following engineering drawings and architects’ plans allow you to successfully build a house, boat or plane.

Yet, building a business or a marriage offers no such assurances.  Although countless books exist about starting a business and getting married, following those advisors brings no guarantee of success.  Surely directions for marriage and entrepreneurship ought to ensure success just as do directions for ship builders, airplane builders, and home builders.  Why would the success rate for new businesses and marriages be well below the figure for ships, planes, and buildings? Maybe Exodus can guide us.

God directed Moses how to build the Ark of the Covenant and then told him to place inside it, “…the testimony which I shall give you.” (Exodus 25:16)

God directed Moses to build the Table and then told him, “And you shall set the bread of display upon the table… (Exodus 25:30)

God directed Moses to build the Menorah and then told him, “…and he (the priest) shall light its lamps… (Exodus 25:37)

However, when God directed Moses to build the altar (Exodus 27:1-8) no subsequent instructions followed.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the purpose of building the Ark, the Table, and the Menorah was to allow actions like sheltering the testimony, setting the bread, and lighting the lamps to happen.  Building the altar had purpose and meaning in and of itself.

Building the Ark, the Table and the Menorah more closely resembled changing a water filter or building a boat.  However, the altar was more of a spiritual entity. Building it was meaningful in itself.

A ship is built for the purpose of launching it; an airplane is built for the purpose of flying it; a sheet is folded for the purpose of neatness and efficiency.

However, a marriage needs no other purpose to exist.  Its very existence provides meaning.  While it is true that a business will fail if it does not make a profit, it gives its owners significant meaning and purpose in life entirely separate from that goal.  If you enter into either a marriage or a business with the proper attitude, they are both vehicles for giving to others. Thus they resemble the altar whose purpose was also giving—to God. Building a successful marriage means becoming a giver and building a successful business means focusing on giving real value to other human beings.

There are libraries of information on how to build physical objects like boats, planes, and houses. And you will only fail by ignoring those physical directions.  Happily, for successfully building entities like marriages and businesses, there is information available too, but you need to expand your horizons to include spiritual information.

Our Income Abundance Set provides a combination of spiritual and down-to-earth advice for setting and achieving economic goals. They are actually inseparable. How you think about money, work and your life will dictate what you do and how well you do it. One of our most popular resources, it remains on sale for a few more days.

A Veterans’ Day Ignorance Tax?

How does Veterans Day differ from Presidents Day? How does each differ from Memorial Day? These aren’t variations on a riddle, but our idea for raising taxes. In our opinion we should forget about sin taxes on cigarettes or junk food; we should reduce business and income taxes and we should make up the difference with an ignorance tax.

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I, November 11, 1917. In 1938, as war clouds rolled over Europe once again, Congress made Veterans Day an annual national holiday, to be observed on that date. Notice the use of the word ‘observed.’ That is completely different from the word celebrate which would be appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Yet fewer people each year actually know the difference between these unique days. Even fewer can distinguish between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  Congress eased the path to ignorance by passing the National Holiday Act moving most Federal holidays to Monday, thereby placing the focus on a three day weekend instead of the event itself. (And while this might be slightly off-topic, who decided that apostrophes were unnecessary after the words ‘Veterans and ‘Presidents?)

Since these days have become prime shopping days, quite different from their original intent, our idea is that every consumer should take a quiz based on the day’s specific theme. Sales tax for that day should be levied based on how well one does on the quiz.  Score high and pay little; score low and pay a lot. Veterans, of course, would pay no tax. Rather than going into government coffers the money collected could be matched with a recipient charity that exemplifies the day’s focus. Punishing ignorance while increasing gratitude towards our veterans sounds like a winning move all around.

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Of Boats and Businesses November 12, 2019 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Like many of you, I find myself turning to online videos for information. Instead of reading through a dense and confusing manual or using a process of trial and error, I simply need to type a few words into my search engine to see step-by-step instructions for changing a water filter, manipulating the settings in… Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • I Have So Many Interests – How Do I Monetize Them? November 13, 2019 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - This is Omar E. - born in Rome from Egyptian muslim father and Italian catholic mum. I just recently discovered your material and I quickly became addicted to it. I would like to ask you something - what' s your views on destiny? And more in detail - are some people destined to be failures?… Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • The non-Grandmother November 14, 2019 by Susan Lapin - What kind of grandparent are you? Alternatively, what kind of grandparent do you picture yourself being in the future? We have all read of the different styles of parenting. Like the bowls of porridge that Goldilocks tasted, we are told that authoritarian parents are too rigid, permissive parents aren’t rigid enough and authoritative parents are… Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • A Veterans’ Day Ignorance Tax? November 11, 2019 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - How does Veterans Day differ from Presidents Day? How does each differ from Memorial Day? These aren’t variations on a riddle, but our idea for raising taxes. In our opinion we should forget about sin taxes on cigarettes or junk food; we should reduce business and income taxes and we should make up the difference… Read More

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, popular international speaker and best-selling author. He hosts the Rabbi Daniel Lapin podcast as well as co-hosting the Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show on the TCT network with his wife, Susan. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner, thus improving peoples’ finances, family and community life  has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths.

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