Going off the Derech

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    WOW Suppose you had sent him to a “weaker” school instead. Do you expect he would now be thanking you? Or rather that he’d be much more resentful?

    write or wrong

    Daniela-I don’t think he’d be thanking me, bc it’s only after having gone through this negative experience in his yeshiva, can he say that I shouldn’t have put him there. If I had put him somewhere else, he may have had complaints about that yeshiva too (although not as harsh). I probably couldn’t have ‘won’ either way.

    I don’t know how I am going to manage this Shabbos and Shavuos. He’s already preparing me that he won’t be home,bc he’s going to be with his ‘friends’. I’m trying to get him to set limits, but he won’t. I’m really dreading this weekend…


    wow, I wrote a lengthy response to your last post, but the mods didn’t let it through.

    I wish you much hatzlacha, and nachas from all of your children.


    It is my opinion this situation is well past the point you can handle it alone. Also the community may be starting to feel that they need to protect themselves and their children.

    Do you have parents or siblings or close friends where you could send the boy for a few weeks? What about your husband? Forgive me the question. I am afraid of a disaster building up and it breaks my heart.

    write or wrong


    daniela-we don’t really have someplace to send him, and anyway he’d never go.


    yikes this whole story is freaky to me because i know a guy who is going through the same thing


    Daniela why is the reaction always to send someone away? I realize you only say for a few weeks (as opposed to the usual of sending to yeshiva in another city/country for a school year). This doesnt address the core issue NOR does it indicate to the child that you are willing to attack their needs head on and give the situation the attention it deserves. You are doing nothing but putting the same furniture that doesnt go well together in a room painted a different color. It still wont look good!!

    This tactic really infuriates me. Does ANYONE think this is productive?


    What is your suggestion OhTeeDee?


    My suggestion is to accept the fact that not all people are religious. Live a happy life that isn’t bogged down with all the status and labels that controls the frum world. You CAN be a good person that is either a non-believer or just non practicing.

    Life’s too short and we only go around once, theres no time to waste fighting about minutiae.


    I agree with you, except your suggestion leaves us with two details to be worked out

    – I am sure everyone understands one can’t do it in a homogeneous community without expecting people to protect their identity and fight back

    – are you so sure the boy would automatically (magically?) become a happy and fulfilled adult if only he got “permission” (who has to give him permission?) to “enjoy” his lack of observance and/or belief? Countless people abandon the religious lifestyle, where is the need to hurt, disrespect, manipulate others?



    I’m with you, ALL THE WAY!!!

    write or wrong

    OhTeeDee-it’s not as simple as you make it. It’s not a matter of leaving the status and labels. Judaism is not something superficial, external or ‘on the surface’ like a jacket, that you can take off if you’re too hot, or a tattoo that you can remove. It is an intrinsic identity we are born with and die with. Where we differ is in the belief of how a Jew should live. The Torah tells us we have to go by the mitzvos.

    You used the terminology, ‘non-practicing’. Doesn’t that mean a Jew who stopped practicing? There must have been something in the first place to practice if a person chose to stop doing it. Go back to Har Sinai (perfect timing) and see that the Jews were all once living as Jews. Anything else, is a diversion from that truth.

    And how can you be considered a ‘good’ person who’s not practicing unless you have a definition of what’s good? Who defines what’s good? Ask 1000 different people, and you will get 1000 different answers.

    If my son were throwing out a jacket I bought him, I wouldn’t complain. But I see it as him leaving “who he is” for something he thinks he wants to be. A person may leave the mitzvot, but they cannot break the covenant we have with Hashem. I believe the Torah is emes, and to see my son seek a life of sheker, hurts me terribly.


    WOW I will not argue with you about observance, but there is something that does not add up in your description of the story. You are presenting yourself as a long-time observant family that has been living in a chareidi neighbourhood and belongs to a tight-knit community. However you don’t have anyone to rely upon, but, most important, what I deduce from your words (which may very well be wrong, but possibly is the same things that other people deduce) is that your son is out of control, and that you will not agree to any suggestion which the RY and the community is likely to make, and which are likely, or should I say, certain, to be much tougher than order the child to stay at a relative for a few weeks and behave. As a result I am very afraid that ignoring the problem does not make it go away, all the contrary. What do you think might happen? Do you expect your good standing in the community – and your other children’s – might be affected? And what would you do if you were in their shoes?

    I will only say one last thing. There are choices which we disagree with, such as smoking, which is unhealthy and causes terrible diseases. But I have many smokers among my friends. One thing is to smoke, another thing is to be unpleasant and light a cigarette in front of people who don’t like breathing poison, yet another is to smoke under the sign “no smoking” in the hospital, and yet another wholly new level is attempting to blame our own decision to smoke upon others and the stress they supposedly caused us, and attempting to manipulate them and belittling them in the eyes of third parties.

    PS I find it outright scary that you are so upset about him becoming frei (in fact, even jeans are a big deal) and then you say “If my son were throwing out a jacket I bought him, I wouldn’t complain.” What sort of human being does that? To a parent no less, but even if it were to a friend? Is that the sort of middot he has? There is no Torah without middos, last time I checked. I understand his schoolmates and teachers told him something wrong or were unfair (I suppose your son is perfection and he never hurt any of them in the slightest? Or you think this is irrealistic?), but you failed to tell him there is no justification and there will be no sympathy for his current attitude, where he is “the victim” from whom everyone must beg forgiveness. First of all, there was no abuse of any sort. Second, he should have told his parents if anything bothered him a lot (so that they may get involved as best they see fit) and he should have put things into perspective (one does not broke friendships upon silly little things, a normal person cares for others and wants to see them happy, even if this requires giving in a little bit over irrelevant issues). Then, you yourself admit it’s not the school and he would be saying the same, or worse, had you enrolled him in a “B” school. And I have never seen you comment about the heartache your son is likely to have caused to his teachers, rabbis, RH, much less I heard a word of yours, asking advice about how to fix that.

    Chag Sameach to all of you.


    i know you are hurt W/O/W and i understand that there is only one emes in your world. And that is tied into the contemporary frum world. But go back to har sinai, as you say. did they all wear black and white? (did they even wear kipot, uh…probably not). This image that tomorrow night we celebrate an event which kicked off the Jewish religion with 600,000 shuckling, bearded, yiddin is (i wonder if yyou agree) quite laughable. But lets face it, isn’t that what we were taught as kids?

    So i ask you, aside from the text of the torah, do contemporary jews have anything in common with those that said na’aseh v’nishma? What exactly does your statement that they were “living as jews” even mean?

    People HAVE been choosing their own derech for millenia. Practicing what they can and often time removing what they cannot (like a jacket) – which explains why ashkenazim and sefardim differ so often

    Look at todays frum world, and you will see why the feeling of mitzvot and customs being arbitrary is so rampant. I would go so far to say, that if the torah was given tomorrow night on 13th Ave or in Monsey or Lakewood, most likely women would not be invited to the party and there would be no food because you cant find 100 jews who agree on a hechsher.

    write or wrong

    daniela-the RY and the community have not made any suggestions to us, and I would welcome some support on their part since they know us, and my son.

    I attribute most of his ‘insensitive’ behavior to a lack of maturity, although there is a bit of chutzpah, as with most teens these days. However, I agree with you that good middos and derech eretz are most important. We are working on that.

    As far as school goes, he was the victim of emotional and verbal abuse, which can leave a scar just like physical abuse. And yes, he was an excellent kid, as all the Rebbes always told us. It’s just that there was a terrible oversight on their part. And my son did tell us, and we went to the school to address it.

    When I said I wouldn’t complain if he threw out a jacket I bought him, I meant that I’d prefer he’d throw out clothes than yiddishkeit.

    Good Shabbos and Chag Sameach…



    A while back you wrote “it’s irrelevant why someone is religious”

    But you see, if you would accept the simple idea that what you believe is not an unarguable proven fact (despite the fact that you believe it with all your heart)but rather that it is something that for whatever reason you simply CHOSE to believe on faith; it will make it easier for you to accept that someone you love may choose not to believe it.

    If however you honestly think that the belief system you have chosen has been proven as a fact to be true and that anyone who believes anything else is either dishonest or simply ignorant it will make nearly impossible for you to make peace with the idea that someone you care about disagrees with you on this.

    There is nothing wrong with believing something based on faith (as long as you aren’t harming anyone because of it) but admitting to yourself that this is the case would go a long way in helping you make peace with the fact that someone you love has chosen a different path then you.


    Daniela and evryone else..

    I did not follow the entire thread but it is quite obvious that you do not have any experience with these kind of teenagers..

    community and neighbors for some reason dont help they have suggestions that are not always realistic.. the teeenager has to want to go to talk to these people. they dont do ANYTHING that a parent tells them to thinking its some kind of trap to make him frum.

    I hava a lot more to write bec I am going thru this myself ( and mine is gold next to other sons I am hearing about)

    write or wrong- the only thing I can suggest right now bec its erev yom tov make sure he knows he has a listening ear. and u are ther for him. When he does speak listen and hear what he is saying. They say a lot of things between the lines that you will have to remember for the future..

    Be happy your son tells you he wont be home.. mine just never came home.. not for the se’uda and not at night.. which was usually at 4am when he did come home..

    when he is home treat him as natural as u do your other children.

    A Freilichen Lichtigen Yom Tov!


    Great point exlakewooder!

    Consider this: if you were born in India, there’s a good chance you’d be praying to an elephant statue with 6 arms thinking everyone ELSE was delusional. WE all know for a fact that those people are completely wasting their time; In other words, due to our being born to Jewish parents we can safely reject their mishagass even after giving it no thought whatsoever

    Have a great yuntiff everyone, go easy on the cheesecake!


    Somehow this thread has degenerated to some people’s favorite pastime – bash the parents. I have not noticed one place where WOW mentioned that her son has issues with faith, yet those who have faith issues, assume that he does, too. I don’t think this is the case. He sounds like a normal teenager with a low level of emotional maturity.

    WOW, if there is one thing you do, I really hope you would get parenting support. Hashem is the first partner in his creation. Do your hishtadlus, but more than that, trust Him – and may He answer your prayers soon.

    OTD, life truly is too short. And sadly, I know many people with your mindset who have no zecher left of them in one generation. They couldn’t be bothered, married Reform, only son married a shiksa, and that’s the end of that. Whereas Aharon Hakohen has thousands of descendants who will honor us with their bracha of Shalom this Yom Tov, and every Torah Jew of any generation would recognize us as Jews by the fact that we cook meat separately from dairy. We have a mesorah. You may not like it or appreciate it, it may be mechayev to do so, but it is real.

    Mom12, Amen! May all Yidden have a freilichen, lichtigen Yom Tov with the clarity we received as a nation at Matan Torah.


    I’m with thehock.

    write or wrong

    mom12 and thehock- thanks for your perceptive input.

    mom12-please give me more advice. What has helped you and what hasn’t. It’s so hard to watch him go out the door, not knowing where he is or when he’s coming home. Friday night, I asked him to please try to be home before midnight, but he wasn’t home until 2am. The anguish is so hard to bear. I can’t sleep, I watch the clock, and look out the window, hoping I’ll see him coming home. I do listen to him when he speaks, it’s just that he’s not home that much, and when he is,he’s on the computer.

    How are things with your son now? I’m so sorry, you must also be suffering…

    thehock-I agree with you that this thread has turned to one of ‘blame the parents’. There seems to be so much anger toward parents when kids decide to go OTD. The unfortunate thing is, that OTD kids assume that bc something negative happened to them in school, or in their life, religion is to blame. And the parents are ultimately responsible bc they put them into this ‘religious situation’ in the first place. However, they don’t realize, that if they had grown up secular, there are also negative experiences in school and in life. It has nothing to do with being religious. exlakewooder is right on ONE point. If I think that my belief system is based on fact (and I do), then it will be nearly impossible for me to make peace with my son’s choice.

    I can’t respond right now to all the OTD members who want to vent their anger at me, perhaps thehock or some others can…


    apologies for the preach but I missed my vocation in life. all relationships are composed of positive and negative. if you develop the positive which has nothing to do with religion (have some fun with him) then you will develop leverage in the negative


    WOW A gitte voch. How was ur yom tov?

    My son was not home but he was BH in a good place..I hope.

    this time I beleive he was because he went with my other sons..

    there was a time I had ‘family locater’ on his phone and I was checking where he was.. and he said he was somewhere else.

    I couldnt even confront him..

    When I call him he tells me he will be home in 10 min.. its more like 10 hrs..

    I got up in the morning and found his bed still empty..

    with all these ‘wonderful’ places open all night long I could only imagine the education he was getting..

    there was/is nothing to do.. I just daven.. certain kapitlech t’hillim for 40 days.. then i said 2 prakim a day till I finished t’hillim ..I was told T’hillim and T’fillos are like a bank account you keep on putting in and the time comes and you cash in..

    I came to a point where I told myself there is nothing more that I can do and I just gave up. basicly not caring where he is and not caring when he came home. I didnt ask him when and where.

    but on top of all this I treat him as I do my other children give him what he needs..etc..

    the hour is late. I will continue tomoro

    write or wrong

    pcoz-you are right, and I do try. But he is either not home, or so preoccupied with the computer, that it’s hard to do this. I am relying on the fact that we have always had a good relationship, and am hoping that it carries some weight. I am trying to insert various things into his life to make him happy, ie making his favorite things. I’m just afraid that it’s not getting any better, and bc of all the time he spent with his chevra on Shavuos, it’s actually worse..

    write or wrong

    mom12-I know what you mean. My son does the same, saying he’ll come in 10 minutes and then coming many hours later. I can only imagine how painful it is to wake up and see your son hasn’t come home yet. I feel that I am not so far away from you, and don’t know if I will be able to handle much more. I also read Tehillim every day, I hope it will help both of us



    I’ve been out of the discussion for a long while, and I have little to offer. But one idea that comes to mind is that young men usually have good appetites. I’m sure that after spending a while around town, they could use some good food (as opposed to whatever cheap stuff they were eating). I think that it might get their attention. Maybe take them out – let them choose – maybe something or somewhere new.


    I try to keep my posts short and they end up being quite long.

    I had in mind to say to give him some private time. either out to eat – which u r right is always something they go for.

    or a walk by the water..which I know my son would enjoy.

    tachlis of this time is to just listen to him and see where he is really up to.. or whats hurting him..

    for instance I am hearing about all the abuse he went through as a child in cheider.. and how no one listened or did anything for him..well, guess what he never told me anything at the time.

    A lot of past is coming out..

    He is now much better. He has been to other boys homes and sees his home is great next to theirs.. to the point that I’ve had some of them sleep by me cuz dey could not be home..

    does your son have a job? mine BH does so he is somewhat busy..

    its the nights that kill them.. they are not learners so there are no shiurim.. so where soes one apend extra time…???

    write or wrong

    MDG-thanks for the good idea!


    I feel very bad for those that are going through this.

    I do not know much about your situation, nor am I qualified to direct you.

    However I will offer my observation of other situations similar to the ones you described.

    I have read that you have a hard time accepting him for what he is.

    Let me just tell you, that first and for most, never ever throw him out of your house, never make him feel like he is not wanted.

    Do not try to ‘teach him a lesson’ as this will backfire.

    Children (read ‘teens’) today, are not similar to the teen you were, they were brought up in a much different environment.

    even if you cannot really bring your self to FULLY love and FULLY accept him, make believe and try to force your self to accept him.

    Have private one on one talks with him, go walking with him (This might not be appropriate in your area, so take a small trip someplace else).

    Dont be the one that talks about him. rather talk WITH him, make him feel accepted and wanted.

    Believe me, those ‘friends’ dont REALLY care about him, nor are they interested in helping him with his issues (I am sure that are a lot).

    You are his Mother, you should be the one that he relies on when he needs some Motherly love!

    Also, make sure to validate him.

    another point ( I am sure that a lot of people mentioned all of this, forgive me if you are reading this ‘advise’ for the thousandth time..)

    is to make sure that you have his laundry prepared, neatly and his suites/pants/shirts ironed.

    His Breakfast nice and fresh. his lunch nicely packed with a piece of cake wrapped. leaving a note wishing him a good apatite, goes a long way.

    You might think that these ‘small’ things are in vain, however this will leave the message that “you have a mother, and she really care about you”.

    What I really can do is hope and pray that he should stay our of any harm and you should be zoche to see lots of Nachas from him!


    someone told me a story recently, they were in Gateshead kollel for hakaphos on simchas torah and rb kaufman z”l banged out on the bimah after the third hakafah that Rb Matisyahu was going to speak. He said that kol hamispallel be’ad chaveiroh ve’hu tzarich le’oso davar hu ne’eneh techilah – if someone cries for someone else with a child going through a difficult period then Hashem will answer them first


    write or wrong: I’m just thinking back, and I remember what allowed me to give Judaism a chance again. I had all these ideas that my parents cared more for their status than for me. Sparing the details, it took until I realized that my parents would literally do anything for me, as a person, before I was willing to consider anything about their lifestyle. You say you try to make his favorite things. Keep it up! It was those actions which allowed me to open my eyes and consider being religious.

    He will come around. Be natural and loving, just not too much that he sees through it as ‘just another kiruv tactic’ nor that his siblings be jealous. Just make sure he knows that it’s him you love and you want more than anything for him to be happy and he’ll come to realize (without you telling him) that Judaism leads to the most fulfilling life.

    He is judging Judaism by the Jews. You need to show him how beautiful and essential Judaism is and how genuine you are about your commitment to the Mitzvot and to your fellow Jews (ie your son, regardless of his dress) and he’ll realize for himself the beauty of Judaism.

    I apologize that I wrote this choppy; it’s late.



    2scents: “Believe me, those ‘friends’ dont REALLY care about him, nor are they interested in helping him with his issues (I am sure that are a lot).”

    You know his friends? Don’t speak lashon Hara, even about people you don’t know, especially when your claim lacks substantiation.

    write or wrong

    mom12-it would be a great idea to spend some positive time together, but he never seems interested. He doesn’t have a job bc he is trying to finish his last year in Yeshiva. He told me that he is only doing this to ‘make me happy’, since he doesn’t plan to continue next year, and isn’t religious anymore. My husband keeps hoping that something will ‘click’, and he’ll get back on track. But he has no motivation and seems to be only going through the motions. I spoke to him about learning a trade or going to college, but he doesn’t feel he will ‘fit in’, and would probably just spend his days sleeping late, and hanging out with his chevra until late hours. When he comes home from Yeshiva, he uses the computer and doesn’t really want to do anything else. I even have to beg him to eat. It’s his escape.

    He tries to stay away from the chevra during the week, but on Shabbos, he’s a different kid and he spends all his time with these street boys. He’s changing right before my eyes, and after every Shabbos, it’s a little bit worse. His language is terrible, and he is very chutzpadik to my husband.

    2scents-I do fully love my son, with all my heart. But I do not accept his choice. Does that mean I don’t accept him? I don’t know, I hope not. I accept that he is having difficulties right now, so I don’t hold him to the same standards as my other children. I can’t imagine ever throwing my son out of his house. That’s what I’ve always felt. But the past few days, he’s been so difficult, cursing and exposing my kids to the secular movies he’s watching on the computer, that I don’t know what to do. I’ve told him to keep his language kosher, and the movies to himself. So he said, “and if I don’t, what are you going to do, throw me out?” I said “I don’t know what I’m going to do, and I hope you don’t put me in this position”. He is also fighting a great deal with my husband, and I don’t know for how long I can be the buffer.

    Like you mentioned, I do try to make his favorite cakes, have his clothes neatly prepared, and try to give him the message that I love him and am happy to take care of him. I just hope he hears that message.

    write or wrong

    pcoz-yes, I’ve heard that too, so I do pray for all the other kids in our neighborhood, and some of my friends’ kids as well who are in a similar situation as my son. May Hashem help us all.

    interjection-I hope you are right. He is judging Judaism by the Jews, and unfortunately, he has been hurt by many of them. I hope that he will hear my love the loudest.

    Thanks to all of you for your posts.


    I think this needs repeating if I havent said it before

    Its been said about another religion (and the blank is about the founder of that religion), but you can change the words

    I Love ______ , its his followers I cant stand

    write or wrong

    zahavasdad-is the blank supposed to be Hashem? I think it takes a lot of maturity to make that kind of distinction, and teenagers don’t have it yet.


    WOW said:

    “He told me that he is only doing this to ‘make me happy’…

    He tries to stay away from the chevra during the week, but on Shabbos, he’s a different kid and he spends all his time with these street boys. He’s changing right before my eyes, and after every Shabbos, it’s a little bit worse. His language is terrible, and he is very chutzpadik to my husband. “

    Here is what I see from what you wrote. The problem mainly lies with your husband. Your son loves and respects you, but maybe does not feel like he can accomplish. Seems like a self esteem issue.

    BUT, with you husband, he has no respect. Why? It seems to me (just my conjecture from what you wrote) that your husband would demand from him to be a little angel, especially on Shabbat. This may have happened even years ago, but the hurt still lingers. I get the impression that your husband would demand of him to sit quietly in shul (on Shabbat), at the Shabbat table, etc. Something about Shabbat makes him want to get out. There is some bad history in his mind.

    Furthermore, your son’s chutzpa towards your husband in only a reflection of what he has felt throughout the years. Maybe your husband reminds him of the yeshiva system that he feels abused him; maybe your husband was rather tough with him; maybe he told him to look good in front of others (which says ‘I care about my image with others more that I care about you, son’); maybe he saw your husband demand one thing and do another.

    OTOH, he feels that you love him and will go out of your way for him because of your love for him. The biggest example of that is his willingness to go back to school to make you happy. He is reciprocating.


    “and if I don’t, what are you going to do, throw me out?”

    Your answer should have been an emphatic, “Yes!”. I feel terrible giving this painful advice but the situation in your home sounds spiritually dangerous. Please, please save your other kids before it’s too late ch”v.

    write or wrong

    MDG-wow! You seem incredibly perceptive, you might have just touched on something. I do remember years ago, my husband would complain about my son not staying in the shul for all the tefillah, or not praying, or not sitting near him. I told him to just focus on the positive, and forget anything negative. It got to the point where my son didn’t want to daven in his Shul anymore. Then sometimes, they’d argue about it at home. Do you think this could be part of the problem? But my husband is not really the demanding type. I think he just expected that my son should do what other kids his age were doing. He’s always been loving to the kids.

    I agree with you that he doesn’t feel he can accomplish, and has poor self esteem. But this doesn’t blend with the fact that we have always believed in our son, recognizing his amazing talents, intelligence etc. We have always been so verbal about how great we think he is, and it’s sincere. How come he didn’t hear it?

    msseeker-as much as I would never want to endanger my other children, chas v’shalom, I’m sure that throwing my son out of the house would guarantee that he would never come back to the derech. I’m still hoping that he feels that we love him and believe in him. We may very well be his only positive connection to yiddishkeit, and by throwing him out, I’m afraid it would be severed.



    I did not mean to mock you.

    I was only trying to give you some un-professional advise.


    2scents – wonderful post. really insightful. one bewildering comment you made – in what world is it inappropriate for a mother to take a walk with their son?

    msseeker – you seem very quick to make a korban out of one kid so that the others don’t get influenced. This post is not about the other kids (who are obviously important too). It is about the young man who needs his parents right now. screaming an emphatic “Yes!” and you wake up to an empty bedroom and another homeless teen hits the streets. really brilliant.

    WoW – why are you so worried about secular movies? there are a million religious kids out there (of all religions) who have seen all kind of stuff. Seeing new things is part of maturing. Keeping him closeted to outside information is the exact reason for his current resentment. I promise. Besides, you can see worse in the NY Post on any street corner than an R rated movie. Instead of banning banning banning, why not actually allow it.Forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter. And maybe he will figure out right from wrong without you holding his hand.

    Your son may or may not need to see a professional, one thing is for sure…in order to know how to parent in this situation, YOU DO!


    “I do remember years ago, my husband would complain….”

    W.O.W, you mentioned about a month ago about Rabbi Lawrence (Leib) Kelleman. In his book, to Kindle a Soul, he mentions that (good and bad)emotions from parents to young children (when you are building that relationship) come out in the teenage years (when that relationship is tried and tested).

    “I do remember years ago, my husband would complain about my son not staying in the shul for all the tefillah, or not praying, or not sitting near him. I told him to just focus on the positive, and forget anything negative. It got to the point where my son didn’t want to daven in his Shul anymore. Then sometimes, they’d argue about it at home. Do you think this could be part of the problem? “

    Yes, he has many bad memories of being in shul with his father. He may wake up late and put on tefillin and daven on his own, but he won’t do something that reminds him of bad times. The problem is worsened if your husband compared him to other boys or made mention of what others would think.

    It seems to me that your son has lost trust/faith in your husband. And I’m sorry to say this, but lost a little trust in you by extension, although not so much. How to earn it back? That’s the million dollar question (but I can only give you my 2 cents). IMHO give and love unconditionally and don’t get upset when he does something stupid. That does not mean that you cannot set fair boundaries. But when you do set fair boundaries, explain them to him so that he can understand why they are fair. If he violates them, don’t say anything unless it hurts others. And even then, speak calmly.


    mmseeker: “Your answer should have been an emphatic, “Yes!”. I feel terrible giving this painful advice but the situation in your home sounds spiritually dangerous. Please, please save your other kids before it’s too late ch”v.”

    Really? It would ‘save’ the other kids? In all liklihood, being as he is the oldest sibling and therefore revered by the others, the younger ones would side with him and resent the parents for making that move.

    The only way he will ever return is if he sees that a Torah life is worth living. Chasing him out will turn him off like nothing else can.

    Song of Blessing

    Wow this thread is really long I wish I had time to read it all.

    I have alot to say so I want to try make it short.

    You said he gets angry. So throwing him out of the house that would just re-enforce that.

    And throwing religion aside just for a second – I think your main problem is that he is closed – not that he’s not keeping anything. If you knew what went on in his head then you’d know why he was reacting in certain ways

    The computer – is a mistake – it’ll bring into your house what you dont want, and he can go on a computer outside of the house if he wants.

    One thing you said was interesting a few pages back was that “He has always been independent and controlling, and he is now expressing it in its fullest.”

    This could be your key to figuring out how to give him what he wants while getting what you want.

    Independence he can get in a few ways – if he wants a computer to be independent and do what he wants he should earn it. Get a job and pay for it himself. It will give him a sense of independence and accomplishment.

    Honestly without internet he cant do much… but being computer savvy I know how easy it is to put movies on an mp4 player and transfer it to the computer.

    Music.. movies.. yeah they arent the best but really they’re not your main concern he isn’t breaking halacha by doing that. BUT if he knows you’re against them saying they’re ok wont work. He needs to know WHY you think they’re not ok. And dealing with an independent teen what he needs from you is your opinion “i feel that movies/music are bad because…. but in the end of the day I know you are a smart boy and you will make your own decisions now that you have the understanding about it”.. and leave it be. Let him make his own decisions. But you’ve let him know you dont approve and WHY (very important) and that you respect that he can make his own decisions and you respect his decisions.

    However as a parent I would make it very clear no singing out loud and not in the house because he has a responsibility. If thats the case you are the parent you can still issue consequences, but the biggest trick is put him in your shoes, as him what he would do if he was you and his child was disobeying a basic rule…

    I feel like he does want you to put your foot down, and look how scared he got when he said that “you’re responsible for him till he’s 18”. He’s scared you’ll throw him out! But if you do that you’ll create a very big enemy in him. Against you and his religion. What you CAN do is send him away to a Yeshiva that you know knows how to deal with these types of boys and will keep on top of them but let them choose their own way.

    Also about the connection with your husband that could be a very big part of the problem unfortunately it is for alot of boys… it could be he could use a big brother but you’d have to be tactful in introducing someone like that. (Like inviting him shabbos meals or times when you know your son will for sure be around).

    Wishing you so much hatzlacha and remember:

    a) sooo many parents are in your shoes! Its unfortunate but you’re not alone

    b) be happy – he is healthy – so many parents have to deal with a down-syndrome or child with other terminal illnesses – think positive that he is healthy and has the ability to challenge you. BH.

    c) Daven… mothers tefilos are the strongest. and so are their tears

    Never give up!


    I am heartbroken.

    I maintain what I said already, the boy is not rebellious. If he were rebellious he would shave, buy new clothings, and find himself a job and a girlfriend. We may dislike it, but (assuming halacha were to be violated) this is between him, himself and Hashem. This is not the case. The boy has expensive hobbies and no way to support them, and is not seeking for one.

    write or wrong

    2scents-I never thought you were mocking me, I appreciate your comments. Give more!

    OhTeeDee-I guess depending upon your hashkafa, seeing secular movies may be okay. But when you grow up without the secular influence, then it makes it harder to fit in to the secular world. By spending hours on the computer watching these movies, it is helping to prepare him for living that kind of life. He is ‘educating’ himself to be secular, and that’s why I don’t want my kids to see them. I can already see the changes, the language, expressions, the hashkafa. But you are right, there are worse things outside that are readily available. It’s just that movies stay with you forever, just like songs. Once it’s in your head, you can never get it out. It’s like when Adam and Chava tasted the forbidden fruit, the consequences were irreversible. I was hoping my son would not put himself into this situation, as now his nisayonos will be more difficult to pass. But I hope as he matures, he will come back to his religion.

    MDG-If Rabbi Kelleman is correct, and I assume that he is, then perhaps the positive emotions between my son and my husband should also surface, as there were many. Tefillah was the negative emotion that probably stayed wih my son. But there were happy times too. My husband was advised to do small things for my son, without too much dialogue at this point. Give small items my son enjoys, or pick up some things for him on the way home, in order to show his love in a non-threatening way. I’m hoping it will help to restore the trust, like you said. Thanks for your input.

    interjection-I agree with you completely.

    daniela-he hasn’t done those things yet, but they are in the planning…with an earring! He’s said that he plans to get jeans, change his style of clothes, his hair cut etc. He is just trying to finish the year in yeshiva, and I am dreading that time. Every day he reminds me that he is not going next year to yeshiva, what he will do instead, I don’t know yet and neither does he. Even now as he tries to ‘finish the year’, he goes late, and doesn’t care about doing well on any of his tests. I’m trying to get him to make some kind of plan, learn a trade if not Torah, go to college. He knows that I won’t accept sleeping all day ’til evening, and then staying out all night with the chevra. But he may just challenge me and do exactly that to see if I will throw him out of the house. G-d help me.


    W.O.W- Being a teenage boy myself, I would like to offer my perspective. Although my case is very different to that of your son’s, and it sounds to me as if our personalities and situations are very different, I don’t think offering my position will hurt.

    I didn’t read the whole thread but from what I hear I get the impression you live in a chareidi community in Israel, completely different than my situation in US.

    I grew up as part of a Lakewood Yeshivish type community, and actually excelled in the system. My Rebbeim throughout high school always told me I would go to the best Yeshivos, and encouraged me to keep up the good work. I was going to learn and learn and learn (you get the idea) for many many more years, throughout yeshiva and kolel, etc. I never would think of doing anything else. I was learning well until I lost respect for my rebbeim. Now let me explain, I was not a victim of verbal or physical abuse, but I did witness what I felt were very poor and immature decisions from some rebbeim. Until that point I basically listened to everything my rebbeim said, because I was a good kid. But after I was disappointed (much more than a few times) by my rebbeim and also by “yeshivish culture” in general, i decided to start making my own decisions and not follow anyone blindly. I realized that I did not want to just learn, that I enjoyed and wanted to pursue secular studies, and that I did not enjoy the “pressure” from the community to be “in the box” and that I was different than everyone else. (I actually think I realized all this before, but I just felt these feelings were wrong because my rebbeim felt otherwise, and I just pushed myself to try to forget these feelings.) My opinions did not agree with those of the Yeshivish world, and I was a bit devastated that my dreams were shattered and very much changed. Until I realized a Yesod Gadol, NOT EVERYONE IS THE SAME, AND NOT EVERYONE THINKS THE SAME!

    To elaborate a bit more on this issue; we should all respect others feelings and opinions. (I am not accusing anyone here of not doing this.) Now while I understand why a religious person will not respect the opinions of an atheist, there is no reason for different sects of orthodox Judaism to belittle one another. Almost everyone has Mekoros and Rabbonim to back them up. (Even if not, if people are good people we should take them for who they are and appreciate they’re good.) For example, many of Rav Kook’s views were not agreed upon by most Chareidi Rabonim. But who has the right to say that if I agree with R’ Kook’s views then I am no good? R’ Shamshon Refoel Hirsh believed people should be educated, so who has the right to say that if I educate myself I am being mevatel zman, that I don’t appreciate Torah, that it’s all useless, etc.? And R’ Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik had very controversial views of his own, who has the right to say his followers aren’t bnei torah? While everyone has the right to believe what they believe, no one has the right to say the other person’s wrong.

    When I finally arrived at this conclusion, I felt much better with myself and decided to stay on the derech. You must understand that when you grow up in a certain world, and all of a sudden you don’t fit in with that world, and to make matters worse they (including your friends) look down on you, it is very disheartening and you want to run away from the whole thing with a feeling of just leave me alone! When I understood that I had choices and that as long as I did what I felt was emes i would not be a bad person, I embraced the role of being frum happily.

    I dont know if this is your son’s situation, but I do know people hate feeling like their bad, and if they do they want to run away from the whole situation, as an escape. When people feel like they’re fully respected with whatever they do they will act sensibly and make proper decisions.

    One more thing: are there any role models that your son respects that he would speak to? I have role models ranging from not-jewish to totally frei to very modern to ultra yeshivish. Their common denominator is that they are all good people and have their head on straight. Observing and speaking to these people has really helped me clarify my views and goals of life.


    “By spending hours on the computer watching these movies, it is helping to prepare him for living that kind of life. He is ‘educating’ himself to be secular”

    He has to know that movies are not real: not the plot, not the drama, not the dialogue, and not the characters. Everything is over dramatized.

    “Every day he reminds me that he is not going next year to yeshiva, what he will do instead, …. But he may just challenge me and do exactly that to see if I will throw him out of the house. G-d help me. “

    It sounds like he is testing to see if he is really loved.



    I don’t know how to say this nicely, but here goes. One other issue that you have to remember is that boys, starting from about 13, have a bit of “fire” in their blood.

    He already feels that he doesn’t match up to other kids his age. On top of that he got these feelings that no one talks about (especially in frummer circles), so he thinks that either he may be the only one in yeshiva with them or just bad kids have those feelings.

    I’m not sure about how to approach it. No teenager would want to talk about it with his mother. Subtlety is key.

    write or wrong

    MDG-I hear you, and I think he’s had ‘those talks’ with his father.

    Shira-thank-you for all your suggestions. As far as computers go, the chevra he hangs out with walks around with a laptop and grab other people’s signals, so he does have access to internet, although not through me. I know he’s already seen the worst, and I have no idea what he has on his MP4 or USB. I really liked your suggestion of asking him what he would do if he were in my shoes, and had a kid who was disobeying house rules. I can’t imagine throwing him out, although I’m afraid he may try to test me and see how far he can push me.

    I hope my son will consider a low pressure yeshiva, but things are too uncertain at this point. Thank you for your blessings, it gave me chizuk.

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