web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Dealing With Rebellious Teenagers

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Last week I shared a letter from a troubled mother. Her story is typical of many ba’al teshuvah families who discover the Torah way of life in their middle years only to encounter resentment on the part of their adolescent children. Very often these teenagers become angry at the new restrictions in their home.

The story of our letter-writer began when she and her husband went on their first visit to Israel. They were deeply affected, especially when they prayed at the Wall. It was at the Wall that they met a rabbi who invited them for a Shabbos meal, and that was the beginning of their “journey.” They returned home inspired and determined to live a Torah way of life.

Their resolve, however was frustrated by the rebellion of their teenage son. They subsequently had two little girls whom they nurtured on the milk of Torah. In the interim the problem with their son, Benny, became more and more acute. Spitefully he would desecrate Shabbos, eat treif and in general disregard our Torah. Instead of the serene home the couple had hoped to build, turmoil and anger reigned. The two little girls were embarrassed to bring their friends home. Worse still, they became confused and troubled.

The following is my reply:

Dear Friend,

For whatever good this will serve, you should know you are not the only ones in this boat. I’m not just referring to ba’al teshuvah families but to families who have always been observant – families who discover to their horror that their sons and daughters are becoming rebellious despite years of yeshiva education.

In a way, the plight of those parents is even more painful than yours – they thought they were doing everything right only to discover that the formula didn’t work. (Please don’t think I’m minimizing your suffering, but just consider the shame such parents feel in their shul and among friends and neighbors.)

Time and again I have pointed out that everything I teach, write or counsel is based on the wisdom of our Torah. I take the responsibility of giving advice very seriously. I don’t like to play games with people’s lives so I always search the Torah for an answer. You ask if you should send Benny to your sister’s house. You also write that your sister is not only secular but views our Torah way of life with disdain. Additionally, there is another problem in your sister’s home – the inclination of her eldest son to drink and party late into the night. Your son would love to move in with his aunt and, his doing so would resolve the constant tension and bickering in your home. So what should you do?

Our forefather Jacob was also confronted by this dilemma. His firstborn son, Reuben, acted inappropriately. Despite his anguish, Jacob decided to admonish his son only at the end of his life when he was on his deathbed. Why did Jacob wait so long? He feared that if he spoke critically to his son, he would abandon his father’s home and take up residence with his Uncle Esau and be totally lost.

These are the same fears parents have today. Should you send your son to live with your sister? He will be influenced by his aunt – and his uncle and cousins. “Uncle Esau” comes in many guises and can be found in many places – on the street, in college, and among friends, family members and co-workers. The very air in our society is polluted with noxious fumes of immorality, decadence and corruption.

Parents cannot badger young adults into compliance. They can ill afford to come down too hard on them. If discipline is to be effective it must be administered at a young age, when children are still pliable and their character traits have not yet been fixed. Unfortunately, in our society just the opposite holds true. When our children are small we indulge their impudence and regard them as cute and clever. When they become older and rebellious, we wonder how they ever got that way. In your case this dilemma is double-fold because when your Benny was young you lived a totally secular lifestyle. The Torah way of life was never in his heart or mind, so you cannot anticipate that a flash of light will make him see that which you wish him to see.

About the Author:


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.

No Responses to “Dealing With Rebellious Teenagers”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
USAID recipient Tarek Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud.
Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In her diary, Anne Frank wrote words that provided hope for a humanity faced with suffering.

Leff-042415

The Arizal taught this same approach, making the point that the Torah would never mention wicked people and their sins if there was not great depth involved from which we are to learn from.

Staum-042415

Humility is not achieved when all is well and life is peachy but rather when times are trying and challenging.

In order to be free of the negative consequences of violating a shvu’ah or a neder, the shvu’ah or neder themselves must be annulled.

“I accept the ruling,” said Mr. Broyer, “but would like to understand the reasoning.”

He feared the people would have a change of heart and support Rechavam.

Ramifications Of A Printers Error
‘The Note Holder’s Burden of Proof’
(Kesubos 83b)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

“What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” my husband remarked. “Well, baruch Hashem we are safe, there was no accident, and I’m sure there is a good reason for everything that happened to us,” I mused.

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

Myth that niddah=dirty stopped many women from accepting laws of family purity and must be shattered

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

Rabbi Fohrman connects the metzora purification process with the korban pesach.

The day after Israel was declared a State, everyone recited Hallel and people danced in the streets.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Pesach bonds families and generations: “So that you may relate it to your son and your son’s son.

Amalek’s hate never dies; its descendants are eternal & omnipresent; Hashem is our only protection

I try to be observant, davening daily, but it hasn’t awakened my heart or my mind or changed my life

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

“Surely,” my family insisted, “there must be someone suitable for you. You can’t be so picky.”

Shouldn’t we Jews, having experienced the barbarism of many societies, speak support the NYPD?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/dealing-with-rebellious-teenagers/2013/03/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: