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Chronicles of Crises In Our Communities – 7/24/09

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Dear Rachel,

I could go on and on, but I will try to make it concise. Reading about moms complaining about their grown children (Just My Perspective/Chronicles 6-26) really hit a nerve. I am tired of hearing it. If these mothers would be truthful and communicate their needs, everyone would be a lot happier.

In my situation, we stopped going to my parents for the chagim a long time ago (I have been married for 25 years), because it was too much for them. Instead, everyone comes to me or to my brother.

However, my husband’s parents insist we all come to them. All five of their children are married with several kids each (some also married, although the married grandchildren usually beg off).

We all bring food to help out, but then my mother-in-law is resentful because the kids like our food better then hers (which is at times almost inedible), and it becomes a power struggle over who eats what. She even gets insulted if someone doesn’t like the bakery cake she bought. My mother-in-law was never a good host, but as she gets older it gets worse.

If we tell her to come to us, she says they will stay home. For Pesach they grudgingly come but prepare their house in case they will need to return there after a fight with one of their children. (They tell this to anyone who will listen.)

Anyway, one thing parents can keep in mind is how all of this affects shalom bayis. For instance, in our extended family it is always tense for the husbands, wives and children before a Yom Tov, what with the negotiating of who will go; when to go; how long to go for; etc.

I, personally, have decided to try never to go for longer than a Shabbos.

Just sign me…

Sad Daughter-in-Law

Dear Rachel,

With all due respect to our elders, I suspect that the kvetchers have other issues that make them unhappy campers. They then vent on a convenient target – their children.

I won’t deny that it is sometimes great to get away, even if only for a change of scenery. But speaking for myself, when we do take the trouble to pack up and go it is mostly for our children (to give them the opportunity to bond with their grandparents), and for our parents (to give them nachas in getting to know their grandchildren).

With our lives Baruch Hashem filled to the hilt, we often find ourselves conflicted in our desire to spend Yom Tov in the comfort of our home versus visiting (or, more accurately, moving in) with our parents/in-laws.

So regardless of the whining that tends to take on a feverish pitch right around Yom Tov time, I concur that a good many of us are selfless, giving and dedicated parents (to our own), as well as devoted children (to our parents).

While bashing the “younger generation” seems to be in vogue, a better idea might be for parents/grandparents with grievances to try to get to the bottom of what is really bothering them, before they awaken to the realization that precious time was squandered on bickering rather than kvelling and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

P.S. In our own families, married children know they are welcome to call on their parents or in-laws for a Shabbos, Yom Tov or anytime. None of us takes advantage of this “open invitation” policy – just as we don’t take offense when the particular time we pick turns out not to be ideal for our parents (for whatever reason).

Happy and Healthy

Dear Daughters and Daughters-in-law,

As a mother and grandmother, I have been in your shoes – but with a difference…

Early on in my marriage, I unfortunately lost a father-in-law and mother. When our children would ask us why we were not going away for a Yom Tov, I would simply answer that we were practicing and learning to be a good bubby and zaidy for when they would one day bring their children home to us.

As grandparents, we now have the zechus to have our children over often, and I pray to Hashem for the strength to care for all those who need my love and help. Some children help more than others, and some days are easier than others. Nevertheless, we should thank Hashem that our families are intact. At the same time, we should be open with our children and let them know where we feel we need help.

To our daughters and daughters-in-law: Many of us do not have the same strength we had just a few years before, but we say nothing in order not to worry you; each side should consider itself lucky to have family to go to. Be upfront with your parents and in-laws if you find it much easier to be in your own home. Instead of “moving in” for Shabbos or Yom Tov, visit during vacation time or send one or two children (as they become old enough to be independent); walk over for a day meal if you live in the same neighborhood.

Just remember that if you do stay home, you might forgo many bonding moments that are well worth the extra effort to be together.

May we all merit much nachas from each other and the ultimate redemption with Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

Grateful to Hashem for all He has bestowed on me

Dear Sad, Happy and Grateful,

Despite contrasting family situations, you all seem to be going about doing what comes naturally: balancing your responsibilities as both parents and children.

Forever the eternal optimist, I believe that we – the dedicated and hard-working parents and grandparents (young and older) – are the silent majority. We recognize that there is “no gain without pain,” conduct ourselves with dignity, and pass our value system on to our children.

Your own words bear out that there are no two people alike and no standard rule to follow. Basically, children need to be mindful that their parents/grandparents have “been there and done that” and have thus earned the entitlement to take it easier (not to mention the toll that advancing years leave on physical adeptness and stamina).

When all is said and done, the key to harmony lies in being tuned in to our close and loved ones, and this works both ways. The perceptive among us will enjoy G-d’s wonderful gifts with minimal fuss, to glean tension-free maximum pleasure.

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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