Posts tagged " parents "

The Cure Is Hated More Than The Disease

June 23rd, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 38 comments

How do you like this allegory?  Once upon a time, there was a wonderful country filled with happy people. It wasn’t perfect, but there was hardly a citizen who’d rather be living somewhere else.  Then a wicked and ugly old witch whispered her evil curse over the land.  Little by little some children stopped getting educated and grew up illiterate.  Some children grew up sullen, surly, and unemployable. Many little girls, even before they grew up, fell victim to overgrown boys of poor character and many little boys grew up to become vicious thugs who enjoyed inflicting violence and pain on other people.  Because of these curses, many people suffered from poverty.

One day it happened that a beautiful good witch took pity on the once happy land and gave a priceless present to the people.  They gathered around to unwrap the gift. “What could it be?” they asked. Finally, the colorful wrapping was removed and the box was opened. Inside they found a big pot of magic paint.  “What do we do with it?” they asked.

The beautiful good witch stood up to explain and everyone listened silently and respectfully. “Paint a small patch of this magic paint upon the right ear of every newborn child,” she instructed. “All children with a small daub of this paint upon their ears will study diligently until they have acquired an excellent education. Every one of these children will be quickly hired by good employers or they will start their own businesses.  They will all grow up to be peaceful and law-abiding and they will marry before having children.  What is more, they will all prosper financially,” she pronounced.  Then, in a cloud of blue smoke, she vanished.

Upon hearing these words, the leaders of this once happy land immediately made it mandatory for every newborn to receive a daub of magic blue paint upon their right ears before leaving the hospital with their mothers. Like vaccinations, the blue patch as it became known, was declared a public health matter and complying was mandatory.  Well, it didn’t take much more than about twenty years and the country was again happy.  Once again the land was peaceful and filled with productive people.  The land returned to harmony, happiness, and prosperity.  The End.

Every allegory has a germ of truth in it; that is what makes it an allegory.  This one is no exception.  There truly is one simple thing that can be done for every newborn which will reduce its chances of poverty by over 85%.  That one thing will also increase the probability of the child getting a good education by 220%.  Furthermore, that one thing will almost eliminate the likelihood of the child getting into trouble with the law and reduce teenage pregnancy to almost the vanishing point.  The good news is that all these wonderful outcomes are almost inevitable if only one thing is done. It doesn’t even involve painting a blue patch on every child’s ear.

The bad news is that the one simple thing that can be done to bring about a wonderful life for every child is to make sure that it is born to a mother who is married to its father and that it is raised in a stable two-parent home.  Almost all else follows. Are there exceptions? Yes, sure, just as in any group of 320 million souls, there will be thousands of exceptions to the rule that people have five fingers on each hand.  That doesn’t change the truths that most people have ten fingers and that most children raised in stable two-married-heterosexual-parent homes do far better in life than those who weren’t.

For this happy outcome, it is necessary for parents to fulfill their obligations to their children and for children to fulfill their obligations to their parents, chiefly by respecting them in accordance with the fifth of the Ten Commandments. 

For that to work, there has to be both a mother and a father.  It goes against the grain for most women to insist on honor, even from their children.  If men insist on honor from their children, they look like bullying buffoons.  There is only one way children can learn to honor their mothers and their fathers: Mom teaches them to respect dad, and he, in turn, demands that they respect and obey their mother.  That is why this additional verse emphasizes not just the abstract ‘parents’ but explicitly ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

Each person should revere his mother and his father, and keep my sabbaths,
I, the Lord, am your God. 
(Leviticus 19:3)

This verse is not only about honoring our parents. It is also about the 7th day, the Sabbath.  In fact, the really interesting thing about this verse is that it actually encapsulates 3 of the Ten Commandments.

Commandment number 5, “Honor your father and your mother…” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Commandment number 4,  “Keep the sabbath day…”   (Deuteronomy 5:12)

Commandment number 1,  “I am the Lord your God…”   (Deuteronomy 5:6)

If you’re lucky enough to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers you anxiously search for a card that will tell you who sent it to you, its source. If we were merely materialistic beings, all that would matter are the tangible things–the flowers. But as spiritual beings, we recognize the flowers as symbolic of an abstract relationship. We want to know the source.

One of the important ways we retain our cosmic balance in a big and confusing world is by remaining linked to sources. “Who said that?” you ask the person to who spoke a beguiling quote. Does it matter? Yes, sources and origins do matter. “I got this recipe from my mother-in-law.”  “You see this hammer? I inherited it from my grandfather.”  Genealogy is a growing Internet theme.  We all want to know where we came from. One of the terrible curses of that wicked old witch is the large number of Americans who don’t know the name or the whereabouts of their fathers. 

Leviticus 19:3 says to revere your mother and your father. Apart from all the good they have done you, they are your source.  They are your connection to yesterday.  And remember the Sabbath because it too is a reminder to an origin. In six days God created heaven and earth and on the seventh day, He rested. Look around you. Everything you see had an origin and a source. The ultimate origin of all is of course God Himself hence the final phrase of Leviticus 19:3.

But it all starts with having a mother and a father to revere.  And making sure that every born child has his and her rightful legacy of a mother and a father is surely the business of anyone who claims to care about people.

It is not about protests, it is about parents. If you care about people suffering from poverty, make sure every child is born to a married mother and father. If you care about violent crime, do everything you can to ensure that every child is born to a married mom and dad. If you care about educational failure and want to stop multi-generational dysfunction, end the curse of children growing up without fathers.

It is shockingly hypocritical for elected lawmakers and officials, community leaders and activists (What are they? Who pays you to become a community activist?) to blame loudly for society’s problems everything imaginable except the one major cause; the cataclysmic failure of marriage and family.

We don’t need blue paint patches. What we need are influential people courageous enough to stigmatize publicly women, no matter how rich and famous,  who have child after child without being married. We need brave voices to condemn and marginalize men who impregnate women and then walk away.  America learned to stop smoking and it learned not to drink and drive. In a frighteningly short three months, America learned to distance and wear masks. Why can’t it learn that letting a helpless child tumble into the world without a mother and a father is terrible for the child, terrible for society, and just plain wrong? 

Promoting culture and government policies that destroy the traditional family has not led to greater happiness and prosperity. We have become afraid to proclaim that success is grounded in the Source, our Creator. Our mission is to share the Bible and ancient Jewish wisdom, the blueprint that lays out what leads a society to thrive or to shrivel. Our costs have increased, and on July 1, most of our prices will rise. This week is a great chance to stock up before that takes effect.

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You Are Not a Cow

November 8th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 43 comments

A short while ago, my husband and I answered an ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question about whether deciding not to have children was acceptable. I was struck by the many reader comments we received that were variations of, “Better not to have children if you can’t be a good parent.”

At the same time, on the advice of someone I respect, I picked up a novel aimed at young teens which dealt with a boy overcoming an abusive home. You may remember that I recently wrote a book review recommending a historical fiction book for even slightly younger children that shared a similar premise.

While I saw how engaging this second book was, it troubled me.  There is something wrong in presenting a dysfunctional view of family and society as the norm even if the underlying message is that tribulation can be overcome.  When popular literature and entertainment repeatedly emphasize  a theme, much more than just the intended message can get absorbed.

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My father is having an affair!

August 21st, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 28 comments

On a day in March, 2018, I found out that my father was having an affair. The identity of the woman at the time was unknown to myself, although I did suspect it was my aunt. It took me several months of fighting myself on what to do with the information, as I did not want to harm my mother emotionally with it. But after much thought I did disclose my findings to her. However, I did not tell her I suspected the woman was her own sister. My mother had her doubts about the whole thing and I know she was in denial in order to protect herself from the hurt.

Today my sister and I after some further investigation found out that the woman is indeed my mother’s own sister. I am in anguish and torment because of the findings and do not know what to do.

This goes against every teaching we were brought up with. I’m disappointed and feel pain and sorrow. Should we keep this secret to ourselves or should we tell my mom? I thought about speaking to my father about it, but he gets aggressive and tells me to stay out of his marriage because he doesn’t involve himself in mine. Please help!

Kayla

Dear Kayla,

You and your sister are in tremendous pain. The structure on which your lives were built, including values and trust in your parents has been shaken. You are angry, hurt, disappointed, betrayed, confused and if we may say so, probably a little vengeful. That is all natural. But natural is not necessarily right.

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Can I keep my children safe?

August 15th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Michelle Carter was just sentenced in the text message case [where she was found to encourage a young man to commit suicide and didn’t call for help when he did so]. Is there a moral equivalent in the Bible by which one could instruct their children so that they do not go down the path of either of the participants in this event? 

Is it possible that both were equally mentally disturbed and this is only an anomaly? Is social media distorting our mores and morals?

 How would a parent use scripture to keep their children on the correct path when young people are so absorbed in social media to the point it takes over their life, personality, and time?

Michael G. 

 

Dear Michael,

You actually asked four interesting questions tucked inside your letter. In the case you reference, a young woman was sentenced for encouraging her boyfriend’s suicide. It got attention because there was a trail of text messages detailing her words. Yet, from a moral perspective (rather than a legal one because of proof) there is no difference between this case and one that might have taken place decades ago with conversation substituting for texts. Urging someone to take his life, whether by letter, speech, texts or skywriting is wrong. The message is the problem, not the medium.

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How far does the 5th Commandment go?

August 9th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Does the 5th commandment also apply to relatives who had a major role in my life?

I am very new to the Jewish teachings. Pastor Larry Huch talked about you and said you were good friends so I looked you up on the internet and have been listening to you since. In all my 13 years in church, I have never heard anyone teach what you teach. I appreciate the materials you make available to all.

Here is a matter that I need to lay to rest.

I was born and raised in the Ivory Coast, a country with too many ethnic divisions. My mom told me in the tradition of their ethnic heritage the aunt (the mother’s sister) is really my mother. That’s what they have been believing for years. So that’s how in 1998, my aunt and her husband who had 3 sons, paid my way to come and live with them in the U.S. b/c “she doesn’t have any daughter” my mom told me. I was 15 and left my parents, siblings and friends back in the Ivory Coast.

My relatives paid my way through high school and college. At a price. I was the one doing all the household chores out of duty. Cooking, cleaning up after them, doing dishes on Christian holidays while her husband and sons play video games and surf the internet. In all honesty, I spent 10 miserable years living with them and do not remember a happy day. I don’t like their personalities and being around them. There was always the “you owe us” attitude.

Fast forward today, I live alone and The Good Lord has given me a job. I still have my mother in the Ivory Coast that I take care of on a regular basis. My dad is 73 and retired. They are divorced and both of them do not have any financial savings. So their financial help falls on me b/c my 2 siblings are not helping at all. The younger, 30 years old, has cut contact with the family and the older, 36 years old only cares about her.

I feel a financial obligation only toward my relatives (even though, I did not live with them for free) b/c they paid my way through school, along with food, housing, clothes, medical bills etc… so I send them some money, when I can on an irregular basis but according to them, it is not enough. My aunt doesn’t want to work so she stays home all day and her husband makes a six figure salary, more than me. Their 3 sons are living their own lives. My mom tells me I need to do what they are supposed to do and I refuse to shoulder their responsibilities toward their own parents.

I don’t have enough finances to take care of 2 sets of parents and build a life of my own. I don’t feel a “5th commandment” mandate toward my aunt and my uncle. They consider themselves as my parents but I do not. My mind has never accepted them as my mother and father according to their ethnic tradition. The 5th commandment only applies to my mother in the Ivory Coast and my 73 year old retired father.

What does the Torah and ancient Jewish wisdom have to say about this kind of situation? 

Thank you for helping.

Neal

Dear Neal,

We tend to shy away from letters as long as yours, but we found your story so riveting that we made an exception. We are also tremendously fond of Pastors Larry and Tiz Huch, and appreciate that you found us through them.

One of the issues you raise is the challenges that come up when someone replaces one cultural or religious tradition with another one. This is a common theme that plays out when a child immigrates to a new country with its own way of life. The pattern and understanding that an aunt is like your mother, isn’t one that you accept. While this may be painful for your family to hear, the “rules” they are holding over your head don’t apply to you.

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Did You Respond ‘Yes’?

June 27th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 19 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.

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Our son just ‘came out.’

June 14th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 49 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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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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Don’t Call Me Mom – originally posted Feb. 12, 2009

August 29th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

Is it just me, or do some of you also cringe when you see ads for pet food where the cat or dog looks soulfully into the camera and says something along the lines of, “Mom, this food will keep me healthy and strong. Will you buy it for me?”

Mom? When did pet owners turn into parents? Was it some time after parents turned into friends and asked their children to call them by their first names? What kind of weird world is this where you imagine your cat calling you Mom while your child calls you Stacy?

Like most mothers, I was absolutely thrilled when each of my children started saying Mommy. (A word to the wise here- I know some mothers who work very hard on making sure their child first learns to say Daddy. Isn’t that what you really would prefer to hear at 3 a.m.?) And at around age three each of them experimented with calling my husband and me by our first names, which we laughed about privately while we made sure they knew that was unacceptable.

Then, over the phone one day, a young man who had recently become engaged to our daughter, called me Mom. I’ll admit to feeling some very weird sensations at hearing that word come from the mouth of someone whom I barely knew. I mean, I knew my own children for quite a while before they called me that! But, of course, he was doing the absolutely right thing. My own future mother-in-law, many years earlier, had me use the word Mom in every sentence I spoke to her until it sounded natural to both of us. In succession, three more sons-in-law call me Mom, and in each case I am delighted to answer to that name.

But I draw the line at four legged creatures. Those ads don’t strike me as cute nor do they pull at my heartstrings. They instead make me both recoil and feel troubled at a world which is actually getting more and more confused each day. Warm and loving relationships can and should exist between people and animals. But years ago, radio host Dennis Prager mentioned being astounded at how when talking to students, many said that if their pet was drowning as well as a stranger, they would save the pet. They were quite sure they were making the moral and correct choice.

Suggesting that owning a pet is the same as being a parent doesn’t make the animal any happier; but it does devalue the mother/father/child relationship while diminishing the value of all human life.

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