Shindy, I would like to respectfully disagree with you. I dont have a child off the derech (my son is 10 months old), but I have friends who left, relatives etc…I have some insight as to what they told me and what I saw.
Its not exactly that chumras=off the derech, the equation is much more complicated than that. I agree with much of Oomis’s post. I especially agree that its a lot easier to re-integrate within modern orthodoxy than it is more right wing. The kids are also less likely to stray that far, because they can still be a part of the community and experiment with the boundaries (no one will say its ok, but the child wont be shunned as s/he would be in the more right wing circles).
When you dont explain to your kids why they are doing what they are (within reason, and age appropriate), they might struggle with a chumra, get so frustrated and finally throw off the yoke of Torah. If they had known it was a chumra, they might just have followed a less stringent approach. This is all part of chinuch! As you raise your kids you teach them. Kids need to understand what they are doing and why – where it comes from, is it a minhag hamakom or a chumra or flat out halacha. Everyone needs to ultimately choose their own level of observance.
Hypocrisy is also a HUGE reason why kids go off the derech. A few of the people I know, could no longer stomach what terrible things were going on behind the scenes by supposedly respectable people. They were tired of all of it being ignored because the person was “choshov.” They saw all the outward displays of being more frum than the next person, but nothing was internalized. One of the biggest parts of Judaism is how you treat people, and without that, all they saw was a system of repression.
Brooklyn, there is something wrong with just saying “We dont do that.” You need to understand how halacha works so that when you face a similiar situation, you can apply the halacha. You cannot call you rav every step of the way! “We dont do that” may work on a 5 year old, but a 15 year old? A 15 year old has the pull of the outside world saying “Look at all the fun we have, no restrictions, do whatever you want” and all you are offering your children is “we dont do that?” Now, not everything has an answer but if you instill in your children a love of Torah, then the few laws you cannot explain are will be ok with them because they will believe and understand the premise.
Now, not every kid who goes off the derech experiences things like this. Some just dont feel that connection to Judaism and want to go on their way. They may just not want to have all the restrictions.
I dont think I did a very good job explaining my thoughts. This is hard to convey this way. My heart goes out to everyone effected by children off the derech.