May 16, 2012 2:34 pm at 2:34 pm #1181499
W.O.W. – whether you agree with the community standards or not is not really the issue. The issue is what message youre actually conveying to your son. If you keep giving the message that hes not living up to the standard set by the community, he’s only going to keep running away from the community, not join it. And he’ll view you as a pushover who cares more about reputation in the community than about him. Again, not saying that is how YOU feel, but it is how you will look to a teenagers eyes.
To use myself as an example again – when the kids in my school used to tell me i wasnt frum and other garbage, did it make me want to be more like them? No! I thought to myself “wow, these people are insane and just plain cruel. I will never be like them, and I will make sure my kids aren’t raised like that either”
You generally cant intimidate someone into being more like you (through threats of “standing out from the community” and such) and make them love and cherish it. Even if they do conform to the “standards”, it will be half-hearted and with a lot of deep-seated resentment. Like I’ve tried to say for my last few posts – the sooner you lose the attitude that he is not living up to community standards and stop conveying that message to him, the better off you all will be.May 16, 2012 4:38 pm at 4:38 pm #1181500
Perhaps, wow, your family, and your son, were chosen by Hashem to be among the vehicles of change in your community. Most agree that the behavior of rejecting and ostracizing members of the community who are different or struggling is wrong. You also seem to agree. However many of us say this is the reality and we would rather go along with it, knowing it is wrong, than be a protester and suffer the consequences. Maybe Hashem feels differently, and wants the wrong to be set right. And just maybe these kids who won’t go along with what they perceive as wrong, are Hashem’s agents of change.May 16, 2012 6:46 pm at 6:46 pm #1181501
And just maybe why are you attempting to be G-d’s mouthpiece ?
We do not get involved in such cheshbonos. We ask “what is He trying to tell me”, not “how is He using me in His masterplan” ?May 16, 2012 7:38 pm at 7:38 pm #1181502
There is nothing intrinsecally wrong with wearing jeans and blue shirts in a black-and-white community, in fact it may open the path to a more relaxed and accepting atmosphere, BUT, it takes A LOT of guts and enormous strength to do that, especially for a teenager. No doubt if he has been somehow bullied etc. with black-and-white clothing already, if he is seen around with jeans and a laptop is going to get much worse, with rebbeim and teachers and everything, the neighbours, etc etc. Who can withstand such pressure? Some can, but not many. Can this boy? I am not certain, in fact, I doubt.
He seems to be intending to “test the waters” but he will create much more trouble for himself, an amount of trouble I am not sure he has fully evaluated, to the point that (I don’t condone, but unfortunately, it is plausible reality) he might be pushed away, and possibly, worse than checking out a bunch of stupid things on the internet. We can only hope that, leaving him space, he will feel self-confident enough to build himself some outlet (and possibly wear jeans elsewhere, say at college?) while avoiding to stand out too much in your environment, and yet, defending how he stands out from the “average” or “norm” or “community standard” which people must feel he does because he has good reasons to. The third part, you in the family and everyone else who cares for him, should participate in doing. However, the first step for that, is for him to be convinced he does because he has good reasons to. I am not sure this is the case now, in fact he may at this time have the wrong reasons, and there, you and his father need to help.May 16, 2012 8:32 pm at 8:32 pm #1181503
LLL-obviously, you cannot threaten someone to conform to the standards of a community, but by setting himself apart like this, I’m afraid he has almost no fair chance of coming back, either. That’s my point. That’s why I’m upset. He is eliminating this option (in terms of returning to a black and white lifestyle) bc he is making a loud statement by rejecting the community norm, and they in turn, will reject him. What could ever make him want to come back after that? You may think he has bechira, but he is putting all his pennies in only one basket.
EH-besides the fact that I don’t feel like being the family korban to set things straight in our community, I don’t think it’s even a possibility. The only one who can eliminate sinat chinam is Hashem and mashiach.
daniela-Wearing a blue shirt in a black and white community will never lead to integration where I live. The black and white will reject him, and he will have no recourse but to connect deeper and deeper to this ‘chevra’ of street boys, G-d forbid.May 16, 2012 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm #1181504
WOW- I disagree about him never returning to black and white. You never know where life can lead him. However the reality is, and You may not want to hear this, but i highly doubt your son will ever want to be a part of your community based on the way you portray his being treated there. However thats not a bad thing. There are many many religious communities where he may fit in very well once he grows up. (which most likely will happen- theres no reason to belive hel be a lazy 16 year old his whole life). He doesnt need to learn to fit into the box, the box has to bend if it wants to fit around him.
Also if you dont mind me asking. do you live in israel or the united states or somewhere else because an OTD kid from israel is way different then the kids from america.May 16, 2012 9:27 pm at 9:27 pm #1181505
far east-how has he been treated here? As far as I know, the only negative experience he’s had was with his school (which perhaps, can be enough in some circumstances). But the community hasn’t rejected him bc he hasn’t overtly done anything yet except hang out with this chevra, which may not be so apparent to everyone. I’m hoping that, you’re right in that I can’t really know where life will lead him. Maybe one day he’ll realize, that the 2 people who love him the most are ‘black and white’,and perhaps he won’t lump the whole haredi world into one package.
How is a haredi kid from Israel different from America?.May 16, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm #1181506
I agree with far east. Personally, im a single 23 yr old and i know i have no intention of living in a community of, and raising my children god willing in, a strict black and white community. That doesnt mean im not frum or dont want to be. I actually love being a frum jew. I try to follow halacha, be koveia ittim, etc…while also attempting to not judge others, be happy and enjoy the life god gave me. So too may it be with your son. He may never rejoin the black and white community. Things like alcohol, he’ll probably get over. I feel like there are two things going on here: the religious aspect and the regular teenage stuff. I gotta tell you, where i live there are plenty of white and black mesivta kids who ive heard cursing, and who drink and smoke. A lot of that is ”cool teenage stuff” that is unfortunately not isolated to the non- black and white community. That stuff, he’ll probably outgrow, as most of them do after driving their parents nuts for a bunch of years.. The negativity towards the black and white community, he may never outgrow. And I fully understand that it may break your heart at first, and i am sorry if that happens. However, the question is, how will you react if he raises a warm, frum family that is not black and white? Will you be resentful? Or will you accept them?May 16, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm #1181507
WOW- Truth is im not equipped to answer a question like that but ill try and give my opinion based on what ive seen. Israeli teens and american teens are a completely different breed. The american society is way more materialistic and shallow. As opposed to the israelis who tend to value other things such as nationalism and toughness. Kids that go off in israel are much more likely to get thrown out of their houses, or join a gang, and tend to fight a lot. Most of them end up in the army and once their in the army theres no way to know where theyll end up. Both in a good way and bad. But its a lot different then the americans. Americans usually wont be involved in gangs, but their likely to become very materialistic and lose sight of the bigger picture. However its common for them to end up either non-religious or modern orthodox (which is not a bad thing at all)
Also the charedi neighborhoods in israel seem to be a lot more intense and closed off then the ones in America. SO going off in israel can be worse in a sense that the community will look down on you much more for it, as opposed to america where its easy to move to another neighborood and fit right in.
Again, i just want to reiterate that this is all based on what ive seen and im no expert in the matter so take what i say with a grain of salt. But you should let the other posters know if your in israel or not because it will change the nature of the advice to fit your kid. I know ive been basing everything i said assuming your son was american and things i say may not apply in such a different cultureMay 17, 2012 2:09 am at 2:09 am #1181508
wow. I want to try to explain my last post as I think I wasn’t clear. My purpose in writing it was to offer another perspective, based on long-term hindsight, but if you don’t find it helpful, then please ignore it.
I’m not suggesting that you should do anything to make yourself a korban. If we take a step back and look at the larger picture, we see a community with strict standards and rejection of those who don’t keep the standards, and a boy who is challenging those standards. But the boy cannot just be cast out of the community, he is a Jew and we naturally want to draw him in therefore there is anguish, both by the parents and others affected by his challenge. And there is a conflict, because of those who love him and want to see him succeed, they will not just cast him out, but find themselves torn between their affiliation with the community that condemns and the boy they love and care about. Because of this conflict, a conversation starts, and questions are asked: is the community right or wrong? should the boy be defended? who is responsible? etc as you see this 300+ thread which is being read by who knows how many more Jews. And what brought about this conversation? A boy’s challenge to what he perceived as being wrong in the community. As we believe all events come through the yad Hashem, then it would seem that Hashem has chosen this boy (and others) and this family (and others) to be the catalyst for a conversation (one of many) that may bring change to an attitude that needs correction. Again, if this perspective is not useful, then just ignore it.May 17, 2012 6:02 am at 6:02 am #1181509
LLL- I don’t care if his family isn’t going to be ‘black and white’. My kids know that we are machmeer, and I’ve often told them that they will make their own decisions regarding this when they raise their own families, and I accept their decision. It’s not about controling them, and who they will become. It’s about giving them a solid foundation from which they will build their own future.
far east-I’m not sure I agree with everything you said. You said Israeli kids who go off are much more likely to get thrown out of their houses, but I’ve never heard or seen that. It’s true that the tolerance level may be less in Israel, as the religious communities tend to be stricter and more uniform. And the other issue is that, unfortunately, there is more division between the religious and non-religious, so you’re either in one category or the other, without too much acceptance of either one for the other one. So a religious family that has a boy who doesn’t conform to the rules/look of the community, poses a real problem.
EH-You are right, there needs to be a change. But unfortunately, when something like this happens, it only seems to create more division and hostility due to fear, between the religious and non religious. Some families are afraid that their kids could go off the derech if exposed to anything ‘unacceptable’. Other families just don’t want the influence of anything that goes outside their hashkafa. That’s why you choose to live in a particular commuity, based on your level of observance. The ‘black and white’ communities frown upon computer access/internet etc for our kids, and rightly so. So when one kid, who has left yeshiva brings his laptop to a park to see videos, it causes a big problem for all the families who don’t want their kids exposed to such stuff. I know families whose kids have never seen a gameboy, who don’t even play ball etc. And depending on who I speak to, I can either be considered fanatic, or modern. I think America is much more integrated.May 17, 2012 1:36 pm at 1:36 pm #1181510
WOW, he does not want to continue in this yeshiva, and he is right – it is normal that a person who feels he cannot be successful, should wish to end that endeavor – but if you want your son healthy, I believe you must (calmly but firmly) insist on a game plan.
Since it does not appear that he is open to being mentored or getting counseling, have you considered choosing with him an out of town/country school? For a person who wants it, it can give him a fresh start. He will lose the intense influence that his crowd is giving him, it can open his eyes to different ways of being an ehrliche Yid, and it can give him the space to come to an understanding of his own relationship with Hashem and people.May 17, 2012 3:27 pm at 3:27 pm #1181511
thehock-yes, we have spoken about going to a school out of town, and I’m hoping he will agree to it. But he is finishing up this year in yeshiva, I’m just hoping he will agree to something for next year.May 17, 2012 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #1181513
OhTeeDee-thanks for your comments. Even though guilt does pop up every once in a while, I know that a lot more goes into a child’s decision to leave the derech. It’s interesting that you mentioned, if G-d was provable, wouldn’t the 2 billion Christains, Hindus and Muslims become frum? I guess if they were given our mitzvos, they might. But most of them are believers in G-d! I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t think anyone is programmed not to believe, in fact I think the opposite is true. If someone loses that faith as they get older, I believe it is because of either negative associations with Yiddishkeit, conflicting messages, misinformation, or perhaps severe trauma. I don’t think my son has lost his belief. I think that bc of some negative experiences in school, and not feeling completely integrated within the community, the severe temptations around him have been difficult for him to withstand. You say a life filled with religion is not for everyone. Perhaps what you mean is all the mitsvos, which can be challenging at times. But I don’t know how I would have coped with all the difficulties in my life if I didn’t believe in Hashem and a master plan. How does anyone?May 17, 2012 6:59 pm at 6:59 pm #1181514
Just to elaborate, the frum world does not have a monopoly on Judaism and as much as you may disagree, Judaism can be expressed in many many ways. Everyone has their preferences, sure, and lines that they WILL NOT cross, but this is the reality. Even within the frum world there are 20 varieties of hat, different psaks on ways of life. The idea of “my way or the highway” – many will choose the highway and not look back.
Re: sending away and removing him from his environment. For me, no rabbi or remotely located yeshiva can convince me of certain ideals that are critical to the frum world.
PS – I am your son, in 20 years – feel free to pick my brain, I may know how he is feeling.May 17, 2012 8:34 pm at 8:34 pm #1181515
OhTeeDee: so, you left 20 years ago? Now in your 30’s? Am I understanding correctly? If so, I see you still read YWN–are there other ways you stay connected to the frum world?May 17, 2012 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #1181516
The point is simply that a religious life is not for everyone. It works superbly for some people and brings much happiness to their lives and for others it simply does not work and they are happier living without it.
People as much as they are similar to each other are different from each other. The way of life that made you able to cope with the hardships of your life may make coping impossible for someone else-its just how it is.
If your son chooses a different way of life then you that is not a reason for you to beat yourself up or be upset at him.
Believe it or not there is not one way of life that works for everyone and by accepting this fact you will only gain his respect.May 17, 2012 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #1181517
I find it fascinating how frum people who deal in Kiruv say this kind of thing to parents of Balei Tshuva all the time but when the situation is the reverse they have such a hard time realizing this.May 17, 2012 9:02 pm at 9:02 pm #1181518
W/O/W,I am seeing a lot of people here discussing the matter of going off the derech,but nobody seems to come with an idea that might actually work; we see all the old show your unconditional love,show the beauty of yiddishkeit,etc. I am not saying that they are not important,but let’s face it,have they had any results until now?
I want to suggest one thing that might be controversial,but I suggest it might be worth a try. I am by no means a professional therapist or psychologist,just a young adult who likes psychology. I suggest you buy your son a camera and give it to him to take photos. Why? You mentioned your son is a very private person and it’s hard to talk to him about his emotions,he is an introvert. Introvert usually express themselves very poor and by giving him a camera,you would encourage him to get creative and express himself. You mentioned he seems angry. Art is a beautiful way of expressing your emotions. There is actually art therapy. You might also buy him an inspiring photo book about something like landscape photography,that can inspire his emotions to be expressed. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this,a decent camera can be found on B&H Photo and Video for like a hundred to two hundred dollars and for a book something around 20-30 dollars.
If you think that is too expensive,try something else that is art related,like painting,or a video camera for him to make his own movies. Just encourage him to get creative and express himself.May 17, 2012 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm #1181519
exlakewooder-By saying that for some people, a religious life ‘works superbly’, I think you are misunderstanding why people are religious. It’s not like a ‘diet’ that works, or an outfit that fits, it’s a truth. Simple as that. What one does about that truth may vary from person to person, and for different reasons.
OhTeeDee-The frum world not having a monopoly on Judaism only means that most people are not informed. Most American Jews know nothing about their heritage, and are so indoctrinated into American culture, that they don’t even care. This does not invalidate the truths of Judaism.May 17, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm #1181520
I don’t know how much more I have to say on the topic. All I can say right now is that Write or wrong- you came on here looking for help and answers and a way to understand your son. People are giving you that, and for the most part, you just seem to be resisting them all, and explaining YOURself and why what you are doing is perhaps correct, etc…You seem more interested in getting into these philosophical discussions about Judaism then in actually implementing some of the ideas mentioned here, and in the meantime is anything being accomplished? Again, I haven’t read all the posts, but for the last bunch of them, it seems like generally you respond to politely, thank them for their words and then proceed to disagree and mention why your thinking is different. Makes for great discussion, but what is actually being DONE?May 17, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm #1181521
You said “I think you are misunderstanding why people are religious. It’s not like a ‘diet’ that works, or an outfit that fits, it’s a truth. Simple as that.”
That’s how you see it-and that is fine. However many would disagree
The VAST VAST majority of religious people do not even claim that the reason they are religious is because they objectively studied all the available evidence and came to the conclusion that a particular religion is the truth. (If everyone did this there would be only one universal set of beliefs that every religious person agrees is true…)
The overwhelming majority of people who are religious are religious because it fills a void in their life, or because they feel they cannot cope without it, or because they were brought up that way etc. etc.
I am not interested in having a debate here about if Judaisim or any other religion can be proven-this is not the place for that kind of conversation so please lets not go thereMay 17, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm #1181522
HaRav Zan-It actually sounds like an interesting idea, bc my son is creative. I will look into it..thanks
LLL-perhaps you should read some of the earlier posts. I have integrated many of the suggestions here.
exlakewooder-I’m not going to debate nor try to prove anything. I will just say that I don’t know a single person who is religious bc it fills a void in their life, or bc they cannot cope without it. Maybe it’s comfortable for you to think so, however. And even if someone is religious bc they were brought up that way, in this generation, it doesn’t seem to be enough of a reason anymore to stay religious, generally speaking.May 18, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am #1181523
W-O-W You said, “I will just say that I don’t know a single person who is religious bc it fills a void in their life, or bc they cannot cope without it.”
I know many-but lets not debate this point, it is almost completely irrelevant. The main point was that “The VAST VAST majority of religious people do not even claim that the reason they are religious is because they objectively studied all the available evidence and came to the conclusion that a particular religion is the truth. (If everyone did this there would be only one universal set of beliefs that every religious person agrees is true…)”May 18, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am #1181524
I saw a nice story about Rb Wolbe z”l in the mishpacha some time ago. His son (wearing army uniform and not yeshivish) was davening minchah with him, someone (nastily) walked up to his son and said to him – do you think your father is happy with the way you turned out. His son was upset by this so walked up to Rb Wolbe after minchah and said ‘ Abba, are you happy with the way I turned out?’
Rb Wolbe didn’t answer. They walked home for 10 minutes and then Rb Wolbe turned round to his and said ‘Yes, I am happy with the way you turned out’. He asked why didn’t you say that before. Rb Wolbe said – if I had said that when you asked me you would have thought I was just saying yes.May 18, 2012 1:16 am at 1:16 am #1181525
What do you mean “you hope” he will agree to something next year? This is a point that should not even be questioned. This is not about clothing, this is not even about being observant and/or a believer. How can it be up to negotiations if he “would like” to be a productive adult? And even more important, why is he telling this to you? It is intrinsic to people to have a purpose in life, even drug addicts claim e.g. the drugs help with their “creativity” or whatever. What does he wish to achieve in life, where does he see himself 10, 20, 50 years from now? This in my opinion is the key, then all of you can start building around it. Yes of course people change, but we have to address his troubles right now.May 18, 2012 2:43 am at 2:43 am #1181526
Why someone is religious is irrelevant. If you are, it means you believe in G-d, and therefore you CANNOT accept that for others its ok not to be religious. If you believe “a religious life is not for everyone”, then you’re not religious.
This has nothing to do with proof – its simply not helpful to tell a religious person to view it as ok if their child does not want to be religious.
This also does not mean you cannot still show unconditional love for your child. But yes – you are religious, so you do not accept their choice.May 18, 2012 5:34 am at 5:34 am #1181527
exlakewooder: Don’t generalize. I feel very unfortunate for you that you met so many shallow individuals, but where I come from, we do what we do because it’s right. Heck it ain’t easy, but yes, I have done the research and I have become a full believer. And since I believe, I gotta do.
“The point is simply that a religious life is not for everyone. It works superbly for some people and brings much happiness to their lives and for others it simply does not work and they are happier living without it.”
True say! I was definitely quite happy living your way. But the happiness was transient. This happiness is not as invigorating, but it is more comfortable and fulfilling.
Just please don’t make up shtus that we follow the Torah blindly. Because that’s just not true.May 18, 2012 6:18 am at 6:18 am #1181528
exlakewooder-even if everyone studied, not everyone would come to the same conclusion bc everyone brings their own ‘baggage’ which taints their vision. I agree with Logician, it’s irrelevant why someone is religious.
pcoz-I read that article too. Point taken.
daniela-I said ‘hope’ bc I can’t really reinforce it if he refuses, unless I consider throwing him out of the house, which I can’t. Of course we’ve talked about where he will be in 5 years, 10, 20. But he can’t see that far at this point. I keep talking to him, and am hoping that eventually he will listen to reason.
Logician.-agree with you.May 18, 2012 1:53 pm at 1:53 pm #1181529May 20, 2012 5:38 am at 5:38 am #1181531
OhTeeDee-My goal right now is to help him from falling further, if that’s possible.
Just to comment on what interjection said about having done the research, and becoming a full believer. I think that if exlakewooder would ‘do the research’, you’d be a believer too. Most people who do the research become baalei teshuva. In fact, even the Christians believe in the truth of our Torah, the Jews are the hardest to convince! But anyone who honestly pursues truth, without worrying about what it may imply, will end up believing in the Torah. With that said, my son does believe in Hashem and the Torah, and contrary to what OhTeeDee said, I don’t think going off the derech is an intellectual endeavor…it’s almost always emotional.May 20, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm #1181532
Ive seen this statement around. The message is for a different religion, but you can make the change
I Love “Yeshua”, its his followers I cant stand
I think sometimes this might be forgotten, Maybe your son Loves Hashem, but there are some “followers” that he cant stand and make he equate one with the otherMay 20, 2012 1:25 pm at 1:25 pm #1181533
I just got a huge dose of my son’s anger over everything I did wrong in his life, starting with, putting him in a religious school.
The truth is, he suffered so badly over there, that it destroyed any positive feelings he could ever have about yeshiva and yiddishkeit. How does one go about repairing something like this??
I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for this…and neither will he.May 20, 2012 8:38 pm at 8:38 pm #1181534
zahavasdad-interesting statement. But I’m not sure my son loves Hashem. He believes in Hashem, but I think he blames Hashem as much as me for his suffering.May 21, 2012 2:44 am at 2:44 am #1181535
w/o/w: Go easy on yourself. What did you really do wrong by putting your son in this school? You didn’t know how it would turn out; if you knew in advance you wouldn’t have sent him there. You had his best interest in mind when you sent him there, no? It will be easier for him to come to forgive and heal if you are able to tell him you didn’t want or expect the outcome that happened there, and that you really regret that he suffered so much there, but that you put him there with love and responsibility for him, and only good intentions. You can’t erase the suffering he had; going forward the focus must be on healing.May 21, 2012 2:52 am at 2:52 am #1181536
If he was a victim of verbal bullying, he is probably very angry and hurt from this. I think it’s not good for him to hold it inside, sometimes there can be an explosion. If there is noone else he will speak to about what went on, then maybe you can broach the topic with him slowly and gently, let him know you agree that what happened was outrageous, and has nothing to do with his worth, that he is a valuable person. Maybe this can lead to a discussion of his strengths, and ultimately to a proactive direction for the near future.May 21, 2012 3:46 am at 3:46 am #1181537
EH-The thing is, he’s been holding it inside for so long. I can’t even imagine how he’s been doing it. Yesterday he told me more details, and I never realized how bad it was. He just broke my heart. He’s usually a private person, and he doesn’t really want to talk about it, but like you said, yesterday he just exploded, and it came out. Even though I had good intentions by putting him in this ‘good’ school, and even though my husband says ‘everything is from shamayim’, I feel guilty that I was the shaliach for all his suffering, which has resulted in him pulling away from yiddishkeit. He told me that he’s not religious anymore, and is just going through the motions to ‘make me happy’.May 21, 2012 3:31 pm at 3:31 pm #1181538
If he is talking a bit now, there is a window of opportunity that wasn’t there before, and may not be there in the future. Take advantage, carefully, and keep the conversation going to help him unload some of this intense pain. Try to get past the crushing guilt in favor of the nurturing mode, this is what he needs.May 21, 2012 3:37 pm at 3:37 pm #1181539
It may be a positive thing, that he is going through the motions to keep you happy. He is telling you he feels distant from yiddishkeit from within, which do you think would be better–to embrace the secular world completely in which case he loses his family, or to go through the motions in order to keep the family for now. So when he tells you that, instead of mourning the emptiness inside him, you can be grateful that he is still holding on to family. The charade won’t go on forever, but we can daven that in the meantime he can heal a little and find a path back.May 21, 2012 4:44 pm at 4:44 pm #1181540
OMG! I just read the article on this website about Rav Ovadia’s reaction to the yeshiva bachur who took his life. How horribly tragic! Thank G-d Rav Ovadia is speaking out. Hopefully more Rabbonim will follow…
Hopefully it’s not too late…May 21, 2012 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #1181542
WOW i can definitely relate to going thru the motions. Be there and be supportive. Since its advent, religion has done nothing but create rifts among and within peoples. Dont let it break up your familyMay 21, 2012 7:55 pm at 7:55 pm #1181543
Your son has no right to disrespect you and his father, in addition to the obvious fact you did nothing wrong and tried your best to make him happy and build him a happy future.May 21, 2012 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #1181545
EH-you sound so knowledgeable. How is it that you seem to know the right approach to take? Do you know kids who went through verbal bullying/emotional abuse and came back to the derech? I actually wrote down your words so I can remember them the next time I start to despair again, which is usually a few times a day, or more.
The other thing that came up in our conversation was being with his chevra on Shabbos. He said that he can’t stand everone putting restrictions on him, including the RY, the Rebbes, and me. He wants to be able to be with who he wants on Shabbos without any questions or time limits. He says that he’s doing everything the RY wants him to do, even though he doesn’t want to do any of it. In light of this, do you think I should back down and leave him alone to do what he wants on Shabbos?May 21, 2012 9:23 pm at 9:23 pm #1181546
Daniela “nothing wrong” is subjective and a moving target. I agree that WOW did all she knew to be right as almost everyone does for their children. In her son’s eyes she did do something wrong and his point of view is paramount now, which is why WOW feels so guilty about it.
I have friends who were in yeshiva for 8 hours before getting to secular studies (to cover those subjects in 90 minutes, mentally exhausted) – Many become barely literate adults. Are their parents doing something wrong?
WOW – I beg you to accept your son for what he is and for what he is not. In terms of guilt, this is a nature vs nurture debate. And since the nurture is usually identical, same parents, same yeshivos, even same rabbanim – yet we see all the time kids turn out way different – it is hard to argue that nature too has a certain roll.May 21, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm #1181547
daniela-I’m sure his reaction is purely emotional, and he doesn’t really mean to disrespect us. But in his eyes, we did do something wrong. We didn’t protect him from the abuse. Even though we didn’t know, emotions aren’t really logical.
OhTeeDee-I am trying very hard to be supportive.
I’m not sure that the Jewish religion has always created rifts between and among it’s people. It’s just that no one’s perfect, not the Jews and not the non-Jews, not the religious and not the non-religious. People are imperfect. It’s just that we hold the religious to a higher standard, so it’s more upsetting when they get it wrong. And even though my heart is breaking over what my son went through, I don’t see it as a bad reflection on all religious Jews, just on his RY and his particular yeshiva.May 21, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm #1181548
w/o/w: I am familiar with the situation, but unfortunately do not know anyone who came back after leaving for reasons of verbal bullying. I am only offering my knowledge gained from being closely involved for a period of time, and because you seem to be looking for this type of help. I do not know what will be the right approach for your family, I am just offering suggestions you may not have heard before. I would certainly defer to any expert who has more knowledge than I on this particular subject.
Shabbos/Yom Tov is one of the hardest struggles. Are you able to maintain an atmosphere of rest and peace at all for the sake of the rest of the family? I think certain rules must be followed in “public” areas at home, but I don’t know if you can win the battle of what goes on behind his closed door. You might have to set out a list of the melachas that you do not want to see in your home on Shabbos, so that you can keep some semblance of Shabbos decorum. But it might be a losing battle to try to enforce shomer shabbos at all times in all places for him. The Shabbos/Yom Tov struggle makes the biggest case for living on their own, and yet, when they go out on their own, they may abandon any vestige of self-control with respect to Shabbos restrictions. Do you have a family Rav that you speak to about Shabbos?May 21, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm #1181549
After reading some more posts and seeing that vernbal bullying was a major cause for your son’s predicament- I can TOTALLY relate to him. 10 years ago when I was in elementary school, my classmates called me a bum, told me I was going off the derech, took my black hat and hid it, claiming that I wasn’t frum, so I didn’t need it. I would walk into a room and kids would yell out “oh the bum is here” The only crime I was guilty of? wearing bobby pins so I could better keep ON my yarmulka. I did have a tv in my house, but I didn’t talk about that so much. Kids can be vicious. The problem is that they get this stuff from the older siblings and adults around them. A kid isnt born saying that bobby pins mean youre not frum. They hear their parents say it and it becomes engrained in them. It’s really a shame.
I never went completely off, but I had my period in high school when I wanted to distance myself as much as possible from the people who had bothered me for so many prior years. I hung out with girls, went to movies, etc…( I never smoked or drank because I just felt that even from a non-religious standpoint, its damaging, which obviously, it is). Eventually I came back a little more to the right, though not entirely. Sometimes the best antidote is simply time. It is absolutely not true that your son may never come back. I know guys who were very modern orthodox who became very right wing. but nothing will happen overnight, and there probably isn’t much you can do either. I know there wasn’t much my parents did for me. Sometimes, simply the fact that youre a parent will cause the son to disregard what you say. His friend could probably say the exact same thing that he previously ignored from you, and he would listen. Hard as it may be, you really may have to just ride it out, obviously while still being loving and supportive.May 22, 2012 5:25 am at 5:25 am #1181550
OhTeeDee/LLL/EH-thanks for your advice. Some of the suggestions make a lot of sense, even though they are hard to do.
EH-About Shabbos. Mostly, he just doesn’t want to be home, but we don’t like that he’s out all day/night with his chevra, and we usually let him know this. What I meant was, should we just keep quiet and let him go without saying anything? Everything we do feels like pressure to him and I don’t want to add to his pressure. Yet, staying out ’til after 1am and missing the seudas (and of course, all the tefillas) bothers us terribly. Not knowing where he is all day and night just ruins any peace I could possibly feel on Shabbos. And now, this weekend is also Shavous. I just don’t know how I’ll be able to handle it.
I do try to set limits with some of the melachas on Shabbos, but he really doesn’t care too much, and is becoming more lax, even in front of his siblings, which bothers me. If I say anything, he just doesn’t ‘hear’ me, or he’ll get angry.
LLL_where was your Rebbe when all that was happening to you? It’s true that kids can be cruel, religious or not. It just seems to be a stage they go through on their way to maturity. I feel terrible to hear how they tortured you like that, kids just don’t know how much pain they can cause someone. It must be so hard to heal from something like that. What helped you?May 22, 2012 1:23 pm at 1:23 pm #1181551
For what its worth, no matter how much i didnt care about halacha, i would never (and still never do now) watch tv in my parents house on shabbos nor pull up in my car. I explain to my children now that we do not watch tv or play with muktza toys when we are there on shabbos. I am careful in my mother’s kitchen with kashrus (and when i go to sit with my father in shul, ironically talk than many of the ballah battim.)
There is a difference between being non-observant and being disrespectful (although you may feel like they are one and the same).
My point is, whether your son wants to be on or off the(your) derech, or somewhere in between (MO, bnei akiva, ncsy, conservadox, whatever) if he wants respect for his decision he should show respect for yours and your way of life.May 22, 2012 2:56 pm at 2:56 pm #1181552
OhTeeDee-Maybe he will get to the point of being more respectful of our derech as he becomes more sure of his own derech. But until then , it’s not easy.
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