Chumros = Kids Off The Derech?

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    Anytime there is a disagreement as to whether something is a halacha or just a chumra, someone ussually makes a comment to the effect of “well obviously if you are going to be so restrictive and not have a proper balance you are going to have kids going off the derech”

    As this point is never the topic at hand it ussually does not get addressed by subsequent comments. So, since it has always annoyed me I will start a new topic for it.

    1) The reason kids go off the derech – because they are too smart, too dumb, too sheltered, too exposed, the parents were too permissive, not permisive enough, they come from broken homes, were abused as children….. There is no one reason why kids go off the derech and I don’t believe that there is any data that show that they go off the derech in higher % in the “stricter” circles than in those that are more lax.

    2) Someone once told me that the word FRUM is U in the middle. On the right is FR, the fanatically religious. To the left is M, the modern ones. Everyone seems to thinks that their balance is the perfect one and everyone else is being either stupidly permisive or narrowmindedly controlling.

    3) What constitutes restrictive? To a non frum person, someone who is MO is leading a “restrictive” lifestyle. And to the MO, the yeshevish lifestyle is, and to the yeshivish the chasidish lifestyle can be viewed that way. And to the kids in the system? Feeling restricted is an attitude. If a chumra is given over as a restriction it will be felt like one. However if it is given over as an opportunity and practiced with a joy and a feeling of specialness, of trying to strive for greater and better things than it will (most often) be taken as such.

    I am sure most of you know the famous R’ Moshe when he was asked why most of the children of those who came to america and were so moser nefesh for shabbos did not stay frum. He said that the problem was that the fathers came home after loosing their job and sighed Es iz shver tzu zein a yid – it is difficult to be a yid. So instead of the children getting a feeling of how special shabbos was they got the message that yiddishkeit was a burden and threw it off as soon as possible.

    It is all a matter of attitude. If you honestly feel the joy you will (in most cases) be able to convey this to your kids when saying no to them and will not in the long run have any adverse affect on their yiddeshkeit.

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