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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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A True Friend Is One Who Reaches For Your Hand

But Touches Your Heart

 

Dear Rachel,

We hear a lot these days about hard-to-handle kids (though I imagine all generations had them) and the blame heaped on parents (while we all know that even the best home environment can inexplicably produce trouble-prone children). Taking all of this into consideration, my brother and I had an argument the other day about parent-child relationships.

He feels strongly that parents should not “friend” their children because this can create an impediment to the proper respect children must have for their parents. My brother says a parent has to be looked up to and treated with reverence, and that a child whose parent becomes his buddy will have a hard time maintaining that kind of respect.

To my way of thinking, any child who feels s/he has a friend in a parent will be more comfortable confiding in that parent and less likely to take his or her problems elsewhere. I’ve always found the friendship factor in my relationship with my own children to be a plus. In fact, in their growing years their friends would approach me with questions they hesitated to ask of their own parents. Today, I enjoy that same easy give-and-take with my grandchildren. They are always comfortable in our home and know they can talk to me about anything.

On the other hand, I have friends who have always had a hard time discussing “adult” topics with their children. I say a parent should be his or her child’s best friend. My brother disagrees. Who is right, Rachel?

A Respected Mom

 

Dear Respected,

The following (true) story may offer you some food for thought on the subject.

I love my kids and grandkids, but I’m a homebody. I’ve never understood people who don’t like to stay put and are always looking to pick up and go someplace. Of course there are times when one has no choice but to inconvenience oneself – as when my grandson was having his eighth grade graduation and there happened to be a family bar mitzvah that same weekend in their neighborhood.

I wished I could take my closet along. Decisions, decisions… an outfit Friday for night, one to go to shul in, another to lounge in during the long Shabbos afternoon… Can’t exactly relax in a formal getup.

Then there’s the graduation ceremony on Sunday and who could possibly know what the weather held in store. (Weather forecasters have gotten it wrong plenty of times.) Most importantly, I packed a box of tissues and a roll of paper towels (and of course my hand sanitizer that I never leave home without).

Honestly, I adore my grandchildren, but let’s just say I like to play it safe. Sharing a bathroom with a bunch of kids can mean running into a used-up-tissues emergency. When you figure in the amount you’ll need just to wipe the toilet seat (why boys have such lousy aim is beyond me) and then another couple to line the seat with, you better have some extra handy.

Talk about playing it safe, I arm myself with a fistful of tissues in one hand and a clean towel sheet in the other. It all boils down to simple logic: How likely is it that the kid who wet the toilet seat washed his hands properly when he was done? So why would I even dream of touching the doorknob with my bare hands upon exiting the bathroom facility? Tada! I wipe my hands with my fresh towel sheet, which I then use to turn the knob that opens the door.

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