web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

‘A Road Never Traveled, Leading Nowhere’


It’s a scene I’ve been part of many times: I say “Good Shabbos” to a young boy standing next to his father. The boy ignores me. The father remains silent.

I recently was speaking to an older person, playing devil’s advocate on behalf of the child and his father. “The boy will grow up fine eventually,” I said. “Why force him to answer me at this age?”

“But that’s part of chinuch,” the person replied. “Why should teaching derech eretz be absent? We don’t let children break Shabbos, we don’t let them eat non-kosher food, why should we let them be rude simply because they will eventually – possibly – turn out fine?”

Why indeed? Why do so many parents permit their children to ignore their friends’ greetings? Why do so many of them let their children run amok in the house? Why do so many of them allow their children to behave in atrocious ways – scurrying about during speeches at family simchas, disturbing adult conversation at the Shabbos table, creating a ruckus at restaurants?

It wasn’t always this way. Anyone over 60 remembers a different world – one in which children were – yes – seen but not heard. Watch any old black and white movie and you will be struck by the respect children once accorded adults and the manners and general obedience they displayed. A principal of a large yeshiva recently told me that he sees a vast difference in behavior between students today and those attending school just 25 years ago.

“These children will all turn out fine eventually.” But is that really true? Will someone trained to obey from an early age become the same adult as someone whose passions and whims are given free reign as a child? Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch writes, “To be good is an art, perhaps the most difficult art that any human being may be expected to acquire and practice… As is the case in any other field, masters are not born; only practice can make perfect.” And therefore, like any other “field of endeavor…practice must begin at an early age if it is to be crowned with the laurels of mastership in maturity.”

Upon reflection, what Rav Hirsch writes seems self-evident; indeed, it was conventional wisdom once upon a time. If a child is seldom required to yield his desires and needs to those of others, surely doing so as an adult will not come naturally to him. If saying “please,” if sharing one’s toys, if gladly giving up one’s bed for a guest, if waiting patiently while one’s mother is on the phone – if all these behaviors are not instilled in a child from an early age, surely his moral will and habits will differ from those who received proper training as youngsters.

As a doctoral candidate at Yeshiva University, I’m constantly astounded at the number of students who sit by the computers in YU’s library – surrounded by fellow students working quietly – and start chattering on their cellphones for minutes on end for all to hear. Surely it’s not a coincidence that our narcissistic age – recently dubbed the “Me Me Me Generation” by Time magazine – just happens to come on the heels of the first two generations of adults brought up by parents who rebelled against the disciplinary approach of their forebears. Surely the rising divorce rate is not unrelated to the number of adults who have been raised to think the world revolves around them.

What about self-esteem? Won’t disciplining children damage their self-esteem, causing them to become timid, dependent adults?

Though this argument is voiced fairly often, I confess to finding it rather surprising. If we were the first generation living on earth and debating parenting methods in a laboratory, I could understand the argument. But we aren’t the first generation. Hundreds have come before us. And virtually all of them, as far as we know, grew up under “authoritarian” parenting. In other words, individuals who grew up under this “Prussian” disciplinary model – and who should, ostensibly, possess low self-esteem – were responsible for the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, etc. And today, the Arabs, who still grow up with old-school discipline, are overthrowing governments and toppling dictators in the Middle East. In other words, their self-esteem seems rather healthy.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “‘A Road Never Traveled, Leading Nowhere’”

  1. What if you said Shabbat Shalom?

  2. Karen Bryant says:

    If they were truly raised according to the Scriptures rudeness would not be an issue.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Indepth Stories
Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Korenblit-022715

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

NY City Councilman David Greenfield: "They are angry because Hitler did not finish the job."

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

Levmore-022715

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question

Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well

Believing a few “extremists” hijacked Islam is myopic in history and geography, numbers and scope

More Articles from Elliot Resnick

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I was very pro-Israel, I was very proud of being Jewish, and I was living in New York at the time as a single man in my 20s and I was just looking for a little bit more.

A school voucher means the state is giving you a voucher to send your kid to whatever school you want. That might be problematic as far church-state issues are concerned.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

To many Orthodox Jews the issue is “Permitted & Prohibited;” “Right & Wrong” barely considered,

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-road-never-traveled-leading-nowhere/2014/04/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: