May 7, 2012 5:50 pm at 5:50 pm #1181446
EzratHashem-you make a good point. Maybe that is the best way to approach him, by focusing on his other talents and see if he’d like to learn something that incorporates his other strengths. At least it’s an opening to him doing something productive, and it may help to build his self esteem at the same time.
koachshtika- you are right, there definitely should be other options for kids within the yeshiva system. And even the yeshiva system that’s in place should take a more individualized, kiruv type approach to each bachur. I shudder when I think of how many kids have left his school, either having been ‘asked’ to leave, or choosing to leave the yeshiva on their own, and eventually leaving the derech completely! My son’s class is less than half of what it used to be. The pressure is way too tough on kids to perform when they may not yet have the emotional maturity to handle such pressure.May 8, 2012 7:46 pm at 7:46 pm #1181447
Maybe something good came out of the meeting with the RY, bc they gave my son a new chavrusa and his spirits seem to be picking up.May 8, 2012 8:37 pm at 8:37 pm #1181448hockoftherockMember
chavrusas are taka a good way to help endangered neshamos get back on the derech haemesMay 11, 2012 3:54 am at 3:54 am #1181450msseekerMember
Wow, that’s wonderful news! Keep us posted, we care.May 11, 2012 6:26 am at 6:26 am #1181451
Thanks msseeker, but I hope I didn’t speak too soon. I can’t really keep up with my son’s emotional swings. I’m afraid of interpreting a ‘good’ day as sign he’s getting back on track, when the next day he’ll disappear again with his ‘chevra’ ’til 1am. He still has no plans for next year, and hates if I try to talk about it.May 11, 2012 2:58 pm at 2:58 pm #1181452
Write or wrong: Don’t “interpret” anything. He’s living life as a teenager. Acknowledge that there will be days that you approve of and days that you don’t. The goal is to keep the “good” days to a maximum and make sure he actually enjoys and appreciates them-that way he will be much more inclined to stay on that path long-term. Accept that, for now, “bad” days will happen. Just be there and make sure the good days are as good as possible. At this point, what other choice do you have?May 11, 2012 3:10 pm at 3:10 pm #1181453
w/o/w: before you get weary from watching all the small (and not so small) signs and hoping fervently that it means he is moving back on the derech I would recommend strengthening and articulating your davening, but don’t latch onto every sign from your son. There could be a lot of back and forth movement, sometimes one step forward followed by two steps back. You may really get worn out from hanging onto every movement, We can’t really know the outcome of any of it—something that seems negative can be part of, or lead to, something positive in the future and vice versa. When he does come back for good, you will know it.May 11, 2012 3:23 pm at 3:23 pm #1181454
Rule out the presence of a mood disorder in general and bipolar disorder in particular. This illness is very common in Jews and from it is borne out the urge to rebel, self medicate with drugs/alchohol, and make poor judgement calls. If your child seems depressed, “ADHD”, has anxiety, or displays any other sort of mental issue they should be evaluated by a psychiatris who can and will diagnose bipolar in teenagers. A family history of mental illness is also very common.May 11, 2012 7:30 pm at 7:30 pm #1181455
I just posted recently about seeing a psychiatrist regarding the possibility of your son having bipolar disorder. I wanted to add that I just read through some of your posts….you mention emotional mood swings, control issues, anger issues, and the belief that ‘his rosh yeshiva hates him’. These are all common in bipolar disorder, especially the last one. I truly feel there might be an underlying mental issue here. I know the advice I am giving you is unconventional as, like most posters here, they will tell you to love him, smile at him, give him space etc. and while thats all valid, it would seem to me that you have already been doing that with only minimal success. I really want you to take what I am saying seriously and give it some thought. If I’m right (and I very well may be wrong), no amount of talking or therapy in the world will resolve this issue. Bipolar disorder is a medical issue that requires medicine as well as therapy. Fortunately, it is highly treatable, if treated correctly (no anti-depressants or stimulants).May 13, 2012 5:39 am at 5:39 am #1181456
Sam2-it’s good advice, but I don’t have the opportunty to do it. On Friday, after he comes home from yeshiva, he sleeps all day until my husband comes home from maariv. Then maybe he eats something quickly, then runs out the door to be with his ‘chevra’. On Shabbos morning, it’s the same thing. He doesn’t come to the Shabbos table, instead he lies in bed until we are finished with our morning seuda, then grabs a bowl of cornflakes and bolts out of the house. He stays out the whole day, maybe popping in for a quick snack, then leaves again ’til late at night. It’s almost like he can’t tolerate the kedusha of Shabbos, and certainly, he doesn’t want to be with his family. I don’t feel like there are any ‘good’ days.May 13, 2012 5:54 am at 5:54 am #1181457
Ezrat Hashem, you are so right. I did ‘latch on’ to some hopeful signs last week, only to fall completely on my face this Shabbos. He is really hurting me and my husband by his behavior, and he just doesn’t care. Motsei Shabbos, my husband and I decided to take a walk, one reason was to get out of the house and talk privately, but also secretly hoping we would see our son, since he hadn’t come home the whole day. It was about 11pm when we saw him at a distance, with some other kid who was holding a laptop under his arm. The other kid quickly disappeared, and my son approached us,angry, and accusing us of trying to find him. He started to smoke in front of us to get us angry, since we never saw him smoke before. He was really trying to flex his ‘independent’ muscles and show us how ‘big’ he is. We eventually walked away, hoping to see who the other kid was with the laptop. This only made him more angry, so he left. If this week we went one step forward, it feels like now, we went five steps backward.May 13, 2012 6:13 am at 6:13 am #1181458
BRAINFREEZE- thanks for your input, however I don’t think my son is bipolar. My son’s feeling that his RY hates him is based on negative interactions that have taken place, and not on paranoia. I also don’t think that bipolar is “borne out of the urge to rebel”. From my uderstanding, it is due to a chemical imbalance, and that is why the only effective treatment is medication. That said, it is possible that my son may be struggling with feeling depressed at times. And I would be thrilled if he would consider talking to someone for a multiple of reasons. However, I don’t think the solution is a psychiatrist/medication.May 13, 2012 7:36 am at 7:36 am #1181459
I agree he may have a mental disorder, but i highly doubt he has bipolar, if he does have as WOW said, its probably something along the lines of depression or anxiety. That being said, he probably is a normal rebellious teenager. Even so thereapy would be a good idea A) to find out what the underlying issue is and B) so he can get advice from someone he views as “safe”
On a side note: When i was a teenager i went to a therapist, and yes it helped a lot just to have someone to talk to about the stresses of being a young jewish teenagerMay 13, 2012 4:53 pm at 4:53 pm #1181460
w/o/w: I hear. You don’t have to fall into the trap of believing he doesn’t care. He is your son, you are his mother, it’s likely he will always care. His outward presentation may not show this, but often outward appearances betray true feelings. He probably not only cares about not hurting you, but also cares that you approve of him. I know, hard to believe right now.
Just a thought on the walk you took to check things out. Sometimes even if you suspect or know what he is doing, the impact of seeing him do it is very powerful and can evoke very strong emotional reaction. On the one hand, you don’t want to be naive or in the dark totally about what he is doing, on the other hand, knowing all the details can be devastating. Since there was a confrontation of sorts, it might be worthwhile to try to talk it out, trying to convey your intentions in the most positive way, that you object to the smoking because you care about his lungs and health, that you want to make sure his internet use doesn’t do long term damage that will be difficult to undo, etc….May 13, 2012 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm #1181461
one other note, regarding Shabbos and feeling like there are no “good days”, remember he is alive, and therefore there is always a chance of teshuva, if you know what I mean.May 13, 2012 7:08 pm at 7:08 pm #1181462
Thanks for responding.
I wanted to clarify one thing I said which you may have misunderstood. I said borne out of bipolar is the need to rebel, not borne out of the need to rebel is bipolar. ie. Bipolar comes first.
In any event, I respect your position, but would ask you to keep my advice to you in the back of your mind in case matters dont unfold the way you would like. If you want to take this just a step further, perhaps get an easy to read book about the illness as it presents in teenagers and compare it to your sons behaviours. That might help you make a more informed decision instead of relying on half-truths, myths, and misguided thinking.
Thanks for listening. Best of luck.
BRAINFREEZEMay 13, 2012 8:16 pm at 8:16 pm #1181463
Ezrat Hashem-I agree that he probably wants our approval despite his ‘different’ behavior, and is testing his limits. But I don’t see how he could possibly care about not hurting us when dafka that’s exactly what he’s trying to do!
You are right that seeing him do things we may not approve of, could be devastating to us, even though we don’t want to be naive. And I was a little bit worried about what my husband’s reaction might be. Up until we saw him, I talked to my husband all the while about remaining in control of our emotions, no matter what. But in a way, I’m glad that I saw that he still has access to a computer outside the home, bc I’ve been naively giving him my computer all this time, thinking it would keep him away from the chevra and their unsupervised use of computers. I’m not sure if I did the right thing, but I told him later at home, that he could no longer use my computer bc it seemed he was getting access somewhere else. My husband doesn’t agree with me at all, but part of me (a small part) wants him to (by default) sit in his situation and see if that’s really where he wants to be, without any of our interference. I think he has already damaged himself with the internet, and I did try talking to him about that, and the smoking. He told me he actually felt badly about blowing the smoke in my face, and said he knows he shouldn’t really smoke, but he’s already been doing it for a while. For some reason, he just really wants to be accepted by this ‘chevra’ of lost souls.
BRAINFREEZE- thanks for your input and advice, I will keep it in mind.May 13, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm #1181464
Still,the goal of his acting out may be an expression of his own hurt, and not to hurt you. In any event, it is not constructive for you to react defensively, and assume he is trying to hurt you. You can certainly tell him calmly about how you have been hurt by his actions, but it’s not worthwhile to hold on to the shock, anger, resentment, etc. that comes with thinking his goal is specifically to hurt you. If it’s possible, try to get past that feeling and keep the nurturing perspective which you already seem to do so well. In the end, you may well need the nurturing in order to heal the relationship.May 14, 2012 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1181465
I really have to remember that my son going to yeshiva every day is no indication of ‘where he is’ right now. He just reminded me that he’s not planning to continue in yeshiva next year, and wants to change his ‘look’ from black and white to wearing colored shirts. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but it does. A part of me feels like I can’t accept it. Do I have to accept it? Despite the fact that I live in a ‘black and white’ community, I’m more afraid of how it will affect my other kids. I feel like things are getting worse, his demeanor is different, he’s distant and tough. I know that in and of itself, a colored shirt is not a big deal. But the underlying meaning behind wearing it in our community is what bothers me. It’s a rejection of our lifestyle, and it sets himself apart. I don’t know how I can come across as being ‘accepting’, when I am not happy about any of his changes.May 14, 2012 3:18 pm at 3:18 pm #1181466
w/o/w: I don’t know if I can stress this enough: overlook the color of shirt. I know it’s a test for you, there may need to be a shifting alignment in that you may need to ignore the community dress standards for now in favor of avoiding machlokes in a very touchy situation. Some people say with children we must “pick our arguments” I think that holds true here. His clothing may deteriorate to something unrecognizable, undistinguishable from the non-religious Jews. But inside he is still your son, a precious neshama. Unfortunately those in the parsha a long time look back at the days of worrying about clothing, wishing that was still the biggest or only worry. Possibly you can casually mention to him something positive about why the men & boys wear white shirts, just as information without any pressure. It may help the other kids to have a discussion with them about why we have dress standards in our communities, take some time to prepare the discussion so it is conveyed as a very positive thing to keep the standard, while acknowledgeing that their brother has changed his way of dressing due to his confusion.May 14, 2012 3:24 pm at 3:24 pm #1181467
I mentioned before whether you think your son might be reading your posts, and whether you would want this. I think there are a lot of teenagers reading here.
It could be that one day in the future your son will express regret for his distant and tough demeanor toward you, especially as it sounds that you have an underlying closeness.May 14, 2012 4:28 pm at 4:28 pm #1181468
EH-Are you saying that by not ignoring the color of his shirt, I might be pushing him away further from yiddishkeit? One of the reasons it’s hard to ignore, is bc by changing the color of his shirt, it means to me that he is headed for worse things, right? Either way, I think I’m going to lose.
I wouldn’t want my son to read these posts, but I think it’s very unlikely that he would come here. If he’s on the internet with his ‘chevra’, I doubt this is where they’re looking. But thanks for mentioning it.May 14, 2012 5:56 pm at 5:56 pm #1181469
What I mean to say is unless you really think you can win that argument without further bruising on either side, then maybe better to let it go. Where he is headed is hard to say; people turn around, many OTD have turned around and for different reasons, and some after a short time, some after a long time. But you do have to deal with what is in front of you now, and that is his desire to change the color of his shirt, as a statement of affiliation. At this point, prioritizing which issues are most important is probably a good idea.
When a kid goes OTD and the family lives in a community with strong standards, there is that “other” relationship that gets changed dramatically, and that is the relationship between the parents & siblings and the rest of the community. There is a lot to be said on this topic, and it should be discussed openly in my opinion, with hadracha from our leaders. In the meantime, it may be wise to accept that there will be a change in how you view yourself & family vis-a-vis your community if you suspect there would be strong disapproval, and again, clarify your priorities. One thing I have found comforting is to remember that not only our spouses are bashert, but also our children are bashert to us.May 14, 2012 9:43 pm at 9:43 pm #1181470
EH- you seem to have such insight regarding this topic. In your opinion, what factors weigh the heaviest in influencing an OTD child to come back? Meaning, kids that do come back, what helped them the most to actually come back?
I liked your line about how kids are bashert to us as well as our spouses.May 14, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm #1181471
w/o/w: the big question. I hope some contributors here who have been off and returned will answer that one, but it is very important to askMay 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am #1181472
Write or wrong: Someone made a comment to me the other day. He told me how in certain places, OTD kids become a parody of what they are taught that OTD kids do. He told me he once had someone ask him, “How can you eat Chalav Stam but not do drugs?” By making every little point into a major sticking point, you reinforce the notion that just like a member of your community wouldn’t wear a colored shirt, so too they wouldn’t break Shabbos. Maybe you need him to realize that it’s possible to be a good, Frum, Halachah-observant Jew without meeting every stricture of your community. He clearly doesn’t want to be part of that community-at least, not right now. But maybe he will find a place where he is comfortable, and maybe that will involve wearing a colored shirt and keeping Shabbos. But when you make everything an equally major point, then Shabbos and Kashrus are much more likely to go out the window along with the white shirt than the white shirt staying together with Shabbos and Kashrus, etc.May 15, 2012 1:59 am at 1:59 am #1181473
Really good point Sam2, and it reminds me that I know of several OTD who were able to return just by leaving the community they felt stifled in, and starting fresh in a new place, usually under the wing of a mentor of some type.May 15, 2012 2:20 am at 2:20 am #1181474interjectionParticipant
write or wrong-
1) he/she reaches the realization that he/she has hit rock bottom-wherever he/she draws that line
2) he realizes that there are other hashkafot which are equally acceptable. He is clearly unhappy living the life you have set for him (mostly because he has been burned). He needs to realize that he can define a new identity for himself within the conforms of halacha. Also, it would alleviate a lot of hurt if you could research for yourself where actual halacha ends and social standards (chumrot and the like) begin.
I am so happy that things seem to be picking up! Many teenagers change their dress as a rebellion against the notion that one’s value can be based on their external appearance. It is possible I am wrong but I would venture to say that you should not be making as big a deal when he makes steps in the positive direction, just as you should not make such a fuss each time he crosses the line. He needs to know that you love him just as much on his ‘better days’ as on the days that he knows he is doing what he should not.May 15, 2012 3:14 am at 3:14 am #1181476chanceParticipant
I think that giving these kids a reason to live , by making them responsible for someone, let it be a special needs child, or any other person will make them feel needed, and will be helpful for their self esteem.
I also know that juicing (using organic) fruits and veggies make people connect to Hashem. I have seen it happen and I know that when people are full of toxicity, there is no room for kedusha. Detox is very important. I have done this for someone and it worked really well.
Detox can be done by juicing and then coffee enemas, by using supplements, eating healthy food, not junk. This will reconnect a person to Hashem. There are many other ways to detox, but its too many to name. I always wanted to create a program for these kids, but have other projects I am working on, but this is a very important part that I would work with.
We cant figure out why so many kids are OTD, but we are putting too much garbage in them and them their brains dont function correctly.May 15, 2012 3:26 am at 3:26 am #1181477chanceParticipant
In reply to :
“BRAINFREEZE- thanks for your input, however I don’t think my son is bipolar. My son’s feeling that his RY hates him is based on negative interactions that have taken place, and not on paranoia. I also don’t think that bipolar is “borne out of the urge to rebel”. From my uderstanding, it is due to a chemical imbalance, and that is why the only effective treatment is medication. That said, it is possible that my son may be struggling with feeling depressed at times. And I would be thrilled if he would consider talking to someone for a multiple of reasons. However, I don’t think the solution is a psychiatrist/medication.”
Medication is so toxic, that the side effects do the same thing as the problem we are trying to treat. I worked with people who were severely depressed and had OCD ,and after 10 years of being in and out of a hospital, and being on medication, I helped her get off meds, and got her to be a normal human being again that functions in society and can hold down a job.
I really feel sorry for so many people who are experiencing this problem. It can be corrected, and the cause in many of these kids are the same. I wont write the cause since my post will be removed. SOrry to see so many suffer. I hope one day more people will be open to listening to what I have to say ( and whoever does listen, is thankful for saving their children for many problems they would have had.) I guess it will take time , but until then, I have pain every time I hear these things.May 15, 2012 6:47 am at 6:47 am #1181479always curiousParticipant
write or wrong
i can tell you from personal experiance i am talking about myself. if he wants to wear other types of clothes you should take him to buy it. as much as depression might be an issue dont fight him it wont work. when will he come back thats up to him. I dont even know what brought me back one day i walked into my house looked at my mother & started crying thats it i slowly came back one thing at a time it takes time thats what you need to remember.May 15, 2012 7:51 am at 7:51 am #1181480
Sam2- so what you’re saying is,that he should be made to feel that he can still be a frum Jew, even if he doesn’t conform to the stereotype of a frum Jew? That I shouldn’t react to the colored shirt bc he can still wear a colored shirt and be a religious Jew? Maybe that is what he’s trying to tell me, but I’m just so afraid that his wearing a colored shirt, in conjunction with everything else he is doing, really means that he is beginning to leave the derech. Do I sound fanatic? I think you are right though.
interjection-the only thing is, that I don’t think he can easily find his own identity within the conforms of halacha in our community, unless he’s black and white. Even if, like Sam2 said, I could give him the feeling that it’s okay to be himself within the confines of halacha, blue jeans and all, he will never get that feeling from anyone else in this community except his chevra. And that chevra has an agenda, since they are not in yeshivas or jobs, they are just hanging out, and they want him to be a street boy like them. How will he be strong enough to pick himself up, and stay on the derech, especially when their opinion matters most to him at this point?
chance-making someone feel needed is a good idea, but he would never be interested in getting involved with anything at this point.
alwayscurious-so glad you ‘came back’, I can only imagine how happy your mother was!
I don’t think I could ever buy him jeans and colored shirts, it would be huge triumph for me if I could even let him buy itMay 15, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm #1181481interjectionParticipant
Don’t be an enabler and buy it for it. Even if I didn’t believe anything was wrong with the clothes, if I knew they not within my parent’s standards, I would have felt they were fools if they’d bought them for me.
Neither of you should care what others say. You have to pay up the King of the World some day. He dressing however he feels he can be happiest, if it is within the conforms of HALACHA (it’s irrelevant if it is ‘kosher’ for the community’s mishugas) then he is doing the right thing and should not be bothered by what some other people say. Because they are wrong for caring more about the externals than they do about the Jew inside.
Number one rule I’ve learned to live by is don’t judge Judaism by the Jews. Let him realize that just because someone judges him doesn’t mean they are right, nor that they have the halachik rishut to do so. Explain to him that he has his own struggles (i.e. with conformity and shabbat, even if he doesn’t think they are worth working on) so perhaps he can understand that people in the community have struggles with their perceptions of others (and in the same way, they don’t either believe it is something worth working on), so he can associate with them!
He struggles with ben adam lamakom, they struggle with ben adam lechavero. He has to realize that when a Jew hurts another Jew, it is dead wrong on their part and he is fighting the wrong battle if he throws away the Torah because some other people give it a ‘bad reputation’.May 15, 2012 2:56 pm at 2:56 pm #1181482
Write or wrong: I havent nearly read through all the posts here, as there are a ton. However, speaking as a young guy in my early 20’s, who went through many ups and downs regarding religion, I can tell you just from your last post that you totally have the wrong attitude, as does you “community”. Its unbelievable to me how a parent could place so much emphasis on the clothing their child wears and how he will fit into the community. Believe me, your son absolutely realizes that. And when a child gets the feeling that a parent cares more about their outward appearance and how they fit into a community than their personal feelings, then that only pushes them further away. You absolutely sound like a fanatic from your last post, and frankly its no surprise to me that your son is going through what he is. What other restrictions have you and your community placed on him? is he not allowed to go to college? Is he conctantly told that the only way to be a good jew is to sit and and learn all day? And another thing- how was he treated in school by his classmates? When i was young, my entire grade called me a “bum” and told me that I was “going off the derech” What was my crime? wearing bobby pins in my yarmulka in order to KEEP IT ON!!!!!!!!!!! How infuriating it is that people will care more about what someone looks like than to notice the practical application of whatever they are doing. I can tell you right now, my very yeshivish elementary school had an extremely negative effect on me. There may be things that your son has not yet told you. eventually, many people do end up coming back, however YOU must change your entire mindset if you would like it to happen sooner, rather than later. STOP worrying about your sons externals and worry about HIM. See HIM. Care for HIM. Not for your reputation in your community.
Oh and another thing. This comes also from personal experience, as well as my college psychology classes. How do you and your husband get along at home? Do you fight a lot? I’m not expecting you to answer here, and its really none of MY business. However when a child see’s that the only things that come with religion are strife and conflict, they will a) HATE it and b) RUN from it. Please listen to me when I say this. It happened to me and I am letting you know the feelings that went through my mind. My parents did not have a good marriage. every shabbos meal was filled with fighting, sarcastic comments, arguments… I despised staying with them for shabbos. Perhaps without you even realizing it, your son is going through the same thing? Every psychology professor will tell you that probably the WORST thing for a child to see in terms of their healthy development is parental conflict. Again, I’m not implying you and your spouse have problems. I have no idea. but perhaps re-examine how your household is typically run.
P.S. I want to reiterate that I did NOT nearly read every post. If something I said is not applicable, just completely disregard it. I am only trying to help.May 15, 2012 4:48 pm at 4:48 pm #1181483danielaParticipant
Allow him some space.
When you saw him, you should have told him the truth: you were worried, you missed him, you went out for a walk in the hope of seeing him “by chance”. Denying the truth and invalidating what he correctly perceived, only undermines trust. There is nothing wrong for a parent in being worried about a child, in fact it’s the contrary which would be repulsive. A child may say, I’d rather you had not come to search for me, or may say, please next time, if I go out, it’s because I wish to be alone; but that’s all. And no bad feelings will arise.
Don’t make a big deal that he smokes from time to time, chances are your own grandfather or great-grandfather smoked. Yes, that was before the health damage from tobacco was known, but everything does damage, even medication we take it when it prevents a worse danger. Watching TV is awful, but a person in the hospital may feel distracted from pain by watching tv and so we encourage. Try to think of his innocuous rebellion that way, after all he has not done anything criminal, not even illegal, and i suspect, not even assur. Thank G-d, but also give a little credit to him, he has free will after all.
Your son believes you want to control him, and actually, his belief is not completely unfounded. Leave him some space, everybody has mood swings, most people have smoked in their life, we are on the internet this very minute, and yet we have not become homeless drug-addicts or criminals. Don’t play a blame game, let him take his responsibilities without running to clean up his mistakes, but don’t invade his space either, be very respectful and don’t lie, and in twenty years he will be asking *you* for advice with his teenage kids. Be hatzlacha.
PS How are your other kids doing? Talk to them, for their sake but also because sometimes siblings have very valuable advice.May 15, 2012 7:55 pm at 7:55 pm #1181484
interjection/livelovelaugh-when I talked about how my son’s clothes will affect him in our community, I was not condoning it. I was merely stating the fact. Whether it’s write or wrong is not the point, and the truth is that most people do judge a ‘book by its cover’, and a red shirt with jeans is not the acceptable ‘cover’ in our community. I will love my son no matter what, bc he is my son. I don’t care more about his clothes than I do about him, I care about how he is going to feel when people stare at him, or gossip behind his back. I care that once a person sees you a certain way, it’s very hard to change that perception. I care that he is making himself an outcast in his community, and that it will only cause him further animosity to anything Jewish. If he is struggling emotionally now, I’m afraid of the struggle he will create for himself should he fall deeper into this. And yes, I am afraid he might leave the derech of Torah, with all the consequences it entails, both in olam hazeh and olam haba.
LLL-why does it sound so horrible that there are restrictions? Doesn’t the Torah have restrictions? Don’t we have to stop at red lights and stop signs? Who said anything about not letting him go to college, or forcing him to learn all day? My concern is that he shouldn’t become a street boy, smoking, and anything else his chevra offers him, which could be drugs, alcohol and worse. I hear a lot of anger in your words, and assume you are probably still struggling with the negative experiences you may have had. Baruch Hashem, we have shalom bayis in our home. I am sorry for your negative experiences, I know that life can be gehennom for everyone involved if there is no peace in the home. Hopefully, you know that the negativity you felt on Shabbos had only to do with the conflict between your parents and not Shabbos itself. It’s unfortunate that you weren’t able to feel the peace and simcha connected to Shabbos, and had such a negative association with it. But hopefully now that you are older, you will be able to see things more correctly. Thanks for your commentsMay 15, 2012 8:16 pm at 8:16 pm #1181485
daniela-If I had told him that we were worried and missed him, he wouldn’t have believed/accepted it. He was convinced we were ‘checking up’ on him. You are right about the smoking, and giving him some space, I accept your words. My other kids are okay, they don’t see my son so much. We talk a little bit about how my son is a bit confused right now.May 15, 2012 8:55 pm at 8:55 pm #1181486zahavasdadParticipant
I am going to tell you a story I heard
Someone once went to a Rav saying he HATED Shabbos, The Rov couldnt belive what he heard and then the man repeated I HATE SHABBOS.
The Rov asked the man he hated Shabbos and the man said, when I was young My parents spent all week preparing for Shabbos getting the best Fish, using the best dishes, Getting the best meat.
The Rov thought to himself, that sounds like a very nice Shabbos.
Then the man said, Every Shabbos my father would make me eat that Fish, I hated Fish. My father wouldnt let me eat anything else until I ate the Fish. I almost threw up every time I ate it.
Then the Rov understood, He associated Shabbos with the Fish that he hated. And told me you dont have to eat Fish on Shabbos.
I have been to peoples house where Chulent was FORCED on the kids (The Kids didnt want to be Fleshing) , ive been told “Ain Simcha elah Yayyin, Dag and Bassar”
There are lots of places to go with this, But first Clothes are NOT Important. As long as he isnt naked what is the Big Deal. If he wants to wear Jeans SO WHAT.
Where does it say that wearing Jeans is ASSUR?
It doesnt, of course. People make up Chumras and for some Chumras are good, but for other people Chumras are TERRIBLE and have the opposite effect instead of making people closer to Hashem it pushes them away.
You need to seperate Chumras from Halacha. Just like the Father in the Story made his son eat the Fish , The son didnt learn to like Fish which was the intention, The Son learned to hate ShabbosMay 15, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm #1181487
wow, do you think it will be news to your son if he sees the neighbors staring and gossiping about someone not exactly like them? Wouldn’t you think that this is one of the features of the community that he is running away from? How can anyone be protected from this? I would also suggest that you be very honest with yourself about how much you are worried about being stared at and gossiped about (yourself & the rest of the family apart from your son).May 15, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm #1181488
W/O/W – You are correct that I do still have a lot of anger. That is true.
When I wrote restrictions, I meant what zahavasdad just said about chumras. I used college simply as an example of a something that yeshivish people will bash with absolutely no real logic behind it whatsoever.
You said “and a red shirt with jeans is not the acceptable ‘cover’ in our community.” Don’t you see? I simply can’t make it any clearer – it is an attitude like that that will turn off any teenage kid who isn’t a normal “yeshiva” kid. He doesn’t identify with the yeshivish kids and by you probably nagging and constantly telling him how thats an unacceptable cover, you are ONLY DRIVING HIM AWAY!! You simply MUST change you mindset. I hate bashing a whole community, but if that is the community you live in, youre probably in the wrong one or associating with the wrong people. I do get angry because in my opinion, kids are mostly innocent. they get the obnoxious attitude that “anyone who doesnt wear black and white isnt as good of a Jew” from adults like you, who just keep saying it without realizing the possible ramifications that it can have for kids who are slightly different.
Clearly, you “caring for him” by having this misguided attitude is not helping. Thats the same obnoxious attitude that missionaries have when they try to “save your soul”-“oh its for your own good”
Look, again, im trying to help. It truly does bother me when I see similar cases like I had that could be avoided. If youre just going to argue and defend your position which obviously does NOT seem to be working, then theres nothing anyone can do. I can only say that, bli ayin harah, I predict your son will not improve until you stop focusing on externals and communal reputations, and start focusing, truly, on him.May 15, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm #1181489
i hear both sides here about the way to dress. The truth is its not an easy situation for WOW, especially since the community will look down on anyone who doesnt copy the system. Of course the idea that we should all wear white and black is completely ridiculous and NOT a torahdika concept. We allow individuality in this religion…or at least were supposed to.
However before we attack WOW for saying she doesnt know if she can ever buy her son jeans, i think we need to take a step back and look at her from her perspective. We can talk about whats right and whats wrong, but HER reality is that her son and maybe even her family will be looked down upon if her son changes his style of clothing. This is not her or her sons fault, its solely the fault of the community placing their emphasis on the wrong areas.
WOW- this is your struggle right now, do NOT let your standing in your community dictate how your son should dress. The meaningless of the way he dresses is way beyond the emphasis placed on it. When i was in school they wanted to throw me out for having an untucked shirt!!! what kind of example is that setting, to this day i look at that rebbi and have negative thoughts. There is no reason in the world that your son should not dress the way he desires. Believe me your son knows it will make people in the community look down and him if he dresses and jeans, but hes probably smart enough to realize the stupidity of the issue.
For your sons sake, let him dress how he wants. Even though i know it must be very difficult for you, please dont make an issue of it as it shouldnt be an issue at all. Your sons happiness and success in life wont depend on white shirt vs t-shirt. But his happiness might depend on his parents supporting him through the thick and thin.May 16, 2012 2:26 am at 2:26 am #1181490
far east, very well said.May 16, 2012 3:14 am at 3:14 am #1181491LogicianParticipant
The point being made about halachah vs.something like jeans is of course true. But:
You think he wants to wear jeans ? Such a cheshek, he can’t hold himself back ? He wants something associated with the clothing, he wants to go against the norms of his upbringing.
If someone grew up with jeans (or whatever), perfectly fine. if they make a mature decision to begin dressing differently than they used to, but are not intending to lessen their connection to yiddishkeit, I can hear. But that is not relevant here.May 16, 2012 3:31 am at 3:31 am #1181492
Write or wrong: If it comes to the point (if it’s not there already) where you need to choose between your son and your community, I think it should be obvious which one you have to choose.May 16, 2012 6:14 am at 6:14 am #1181493
“if they make a mature decision to begin dressing differently than they used to, but are not intending to lessen their connection to yiddishkeit”
It seems like your saying there is a connection between wearing jeans and having a lesser connection of yiddishkiet. Maybe he just wants individuality. Maybe he wants to make a decision about how he dresses instead of following the community blindly because of social norms. Dont get me wrong, there is value to what you are saying. The decision to go against the community norms may be a way to disassociate himself from the community in a public way. But why look at the jeans as an example of his falling. If hes falling in yiddishkiet it will be evident through other areas that actually have meaning. People who see a teenager in jeans and think “what a nebach” have completely missed the point of torah and yiddishkiet. Being judgemental is a terrible aveirah and its one that all of us, myself included, need to work on.May 16, 2012 7:16 am at 7:16 am #1181494
I’m going to try to clarify a few points to everyone who wrote. First,I would think it’s obvious, although maybe it’s not, bc so many of you think that I feel that clothes are more important than my son. My son is more important than the color of his clothes, the neighbors, his profession, his religious connection and anything else. Zahavasdad-I know that jeans are not assur, but I think some of you, except far east, are missing the point. If you were in the army, would it be okay to tell your superior that instead of the green army uniform you are expected to wear, that you are wearing a red shirt with bluejeans instead, bc you don’t like green? Or that you want to wear the uniform of the parachuter when you’re in the marines? Where we live, in our community, in our schools, this is the dress code. My son wants to go against that norm, and whether I like it or not is not the point, whether it’s right or wrong is not the point. That would be a different conversation. I know that Hashem isn’t going to care about what color shirt my son wore. I am only pointing out that, IN OUR COMMUNITY, he is joining the dress code of the STREET KIDS which is a statement about who he is and how he sees himself. That’s what bothers me. It doesn’t mean I think his clothes are more important than him. That’s rediculous. If we lived in a mixed community, it wouldn’t stand out and have the same impact.
Ezrat Hashem-my identity is not on the line, like my son’s is, so I don’t care as much about what the neighbors think of me. I do worry a little about how it will affect my other kids, not bc I don’t care about my son, but bc the REALITY is, that whether or not it’s right or wrong, whether we like it or not, people will treat my kids differently, or make comments that might be hurtful.
You know, we don’t live in a perfect world. And mashiach hasn’t yet come. Sometimes, out of fear, people make strong separations based on seemingly insignificant things, like wearing a blue shirt. I remember a few years ago, my friend’s daughter didn’t get accepted into THE #1 Beis Yaacov, bc someone saw the father cleaning their yard wearing a blue shirt instead of a white one. It’s crazy, right? I agree with you all on this! I’m not condoning any of this meshugas, and I wish it weren’t so. But it’s the reality I live in, and I’m just trying to deal with it.May 16, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am #1181495
far east-Generally speaking, in and of itself I don’t think wearing jeans has any connection to yiddishkeit. However, if in a specific community, all the religious people wear black suits and white shirts, and the kids who are off the derech wear jeans and t-shirts, then wearing jeans and t-shirts means something, right? I do believe that he is trying to find his own path, his individuality like you said, and that may mean trying on a lot of different ‘looks’, including pierced nose, and orange hair etc. But I think that by setting himself apart from the religious in his community, he is also setting himself up to leave completely, bc he is creating a situation where he will have had such a negative response from all the religious people in his community, that it will convince him he was right to leave it in the first place.May 16, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am #1181496
Did any of you ever hear the saying “whatever i learned, i learned in kindergarten”. My profession takes me to schools, both boys and girls and what i sometimes see makes my blood boil. Kids as young as 8 being slapped for narishkeiten by a Rebbe, probably taking his frustrations out on the little kids and when inquiring you find out that his experience is ….yes….used to pack boxes in back of a factory!!! Most of these children who feel they had enough have a lot of built up emotions and were afraid of speaking up or even when they did were ignored because the parents may have been too busy for them (especially these days with such as what we are doing on CR or never taking a parenting course which they denied needed). Howabout letting small 2 1/2 year olds running around on their own in a big hall/lunchroom while Rebbe is eating breakfast. Yes, amigo is watching them while he is eating his treif food and getting the kosher school lunch ready and no he is not wearing gloves. So the falling in Yiddishkeit is not falling, it is part of the foundation he got when he started Yeshiva and the parents were ignorant to what really was happening.May 16, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am #1181497LogicianParticipant
far east – I was making no such connection. I was making a connection between giving up the norms you grew up with, whatever they may be and whether they’re very important or not, and a lessening of yidishkeit. Of course a mature adult can give up these exteriors for his own reasons, such as the individuality you mentioned. I think its clear though, that a teenager who does so is more likely to be using it as a way of rebelling against what it represents to him.
What a nebach, he wears jeans – agreed, bad reaction.
What a nebach, he wears jeans, it looks like he’s trying to disassociate himself – valid reaction.
I think we agree here.May 16, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm #1181498Some Common SenseParticipant
See http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=127441 for one possible cause.
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