Thursday, March 20, 2014

Angels for Kids

My Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Arush, warns us not to rebuke our children. He raised his own beautiful, successful children without criticizing or rebuking them at all. With emuna, Rav Arush knew that if he prayed for his children and did teshuva (repentance) for every personal defect that he saw in them that they would excel.
One might object saying that this is all well and good for Rabbi Shalom Arush, but we are not tzaddikim and we do not have his strength to refrain from making critical remarks. To this the Rebbe gives you his promise that if he could do it so can you. The truth is that Rav Arush is not expecting us to be on his level. His level is actually much higher than this - he just sees capabilities in us that we do not see in ourselves.
Rav Arush's writings about child-rearing are completely consistent with how he raised his own children. The Rebbe calls his bookChinuch B'Ahava (education; or more specifically preparation with love) to show that the only way to raise healthy children is tosimultaneously prepare ourselves to be parents. Rav Arush does not expect perfection from us, he simply wants us to acknowledge the futility of forcing values and traits onto our children that we do not possess. The Rav prays for all of us to have the wisdom to avoid the pitfalls of psychological and even religious approaches to parenting that focus exclusively on the child. 
How can one who is still being ruled by arrogance and self-centeredness expect his child to listen to anything that he has to say about the importance of humility and loving kindness. How can one who is constantly competing with others and looking at others with an evil eye teach his children to believe in themselves; have the courage to find their own path in life and to judge others favorably. It is not possible.
Michael demanded respect from his children. He felt justified in scolding them for sitting in his seat, interrupting him when he was speaking or for openly disagreeing with his religious views. Michael believed that it was necessary to instill fear of his authority into his children in order for them to be successful in life even though he himself had a problem with obedience to authority. In fact while serving in the army, Michael was brought up on charges of disobeying his commanding officer and was later fired from numerous jobs for the same defect of character. Little did Michael realize how deeply his children loved him, when they were young, and wanted desperately to please him - but that could not last. When those children grew up they wanted nothing to do with Michael even though he changed. Michael's wife, who was quiet for all those years, now rages openly at him and sides with her children who never call their father. To Michael's great credit he is learning to see that this is all from Hashem and is doing a very deep and penetrating t'shuva on himself. What a gift Hashem has given to this man. He has become an incredibly strong servant of Hashem. It does not look like Michael will ever stop doing t'shuva until his children return to his loving, repentant arms. May it be so!
Suri is a mother of five.  Her daughter, Chavie, was 12 years old when she had not yet taken an interest in cleaning her room and organizing her possessions. Suri wisely refrained from making an issue of her daughter's unmanageability - instead...continue here...

Have a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen