web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Encouraging Without Pushing

Respler-032312

Dear Dr. Respler:

I recently lost my husband of 51 years, and I am very depressed. He was a true talmid chacham and a loving husband. Every morning when he was well, he went to shul early. He never missed a minyan and he learned every day. All his life he ran a business and, baruch Hashem, he worked hard and took excellent care of our children and me. I look at my grandsons and my grandsons-in-law and they don’t hold a candle to my husband. Even the children who learn in kollel are not as careful as my husband was about being on time for minyan.

Everyone seems too busy for me, and I feel very lonely. My daughter says that I am pushing the children and grandchildren away since I am too critical. Has anyone ever heard of constructive criticism? I want to help my children and grandchildren become better people. My friends’ children and grandchildren are always calling and visiting her. Mine come to see me, but they seem anxious to leave. My friend, who is really great to me, also tells me that I am too critical. She says I push my loved ones away with my remarks. What do you think?

Lonely Widow

Dear Lonely Widow:

Years ago I spoke in a Lubavitch community, where the rav at the time, Rabbi Sachs, expressed the brilliant thought that constructive criticism is an oxymoron. We all love to hear positive, loving things, but unfortunately some people tend to give more criticism than compliments.

Most people gravitate to those with a positive outlook. When I do marriage counseling I attempt to begin breaking the negative cycle by assigning this task to the couple: they must give each other at least three sincere compliments a day. This is generally difficult for them, but it begins to change the negative marital cycle. We can then evaluate more deeply the negative marital patterns that are destroying the relationship. Similarly, I advise generally critical people to be more positive and complimentary in an effort to break a negative cycle in their lives.

Your letter appears to reflect that you may be overly critical of your loved ones. Perhaps your daughter is correct, and you are distancing them from you by being critical. I am certain that your intentions are honorable, but think about this: Would you want to be around someone who is disapproving and critical of you, or would you rather be with someone who is positive and loving? Is it possible for you to share some of your concerns with your children and grandchildren in a more affectionate manner and with a soft, gentle tone? Remember that if we are generally loving and occasionally critical, our words have more validity.

It would be helpful if you asked yourself the following questions, as they may help in your self-examination: Do you criticize others, possibly subconsciously, in order to gain control in the relationship? Are you more critical when feeling insecure? Did your parents criticize you when you were a child? Do you feel that you show your love to those you care about?

Complimenting people is the easiest way to build someone’s confidence. Doing this makes you closer to the person and makes the person want to be closer to you. We can always find something good to say about someone. So the next time you see your children and grandchildren think about a compliment you can pay them, not necessarily one that can improve them. Of course we all want to improve our loved ones and ourselves, but people generally do not take well to criticism. True improvement comes from much love and statements phrased in a positive manner. As it is always hard for individuals to accept criticism, people are more likely to accept it if it comes from someone that they feel loves them and thinks highly of them.

You will not be able to help your children and grandchildren improve unless you build a positive relationship with them and they feel emotionally safe with you. They must understand that you have a high regard for them and that you only say something negative when it is important. Being consistently critical will get you nowhere because it is likely that no one will listen to your words. Most individuals in this kind of predicament generally tune out the negativity and become defensive when anything critical comes up. Thus the only way to have a good relationship with others is to work on being more positive and complimentary.

People cannot improve everything at once, so if something happens that you feel is important to mention, use a positive and loving manner to help the person improve. Give the person a compliment and then offer your opinion as to how this improvement can take place. For example, if one of your grandchildren is not speaking with derech eretz to his or her parents, you might say something like, “Honey, you are such an amazing child and I often see you go out of your way to do mitzvos. I am so proud of you. I am sure that you do not realize that the things you sometimes say or the way that you say it is not with the proper derech eretz. I know that you want to be respectful, so maybe this is something we can work on together. What do you think, my special grandchild?” This makes you sensitive to your grandchild’s feelings, while still getting your point across. This may still be difficult for your grandchild to accept, but at least he or she will not feel like staying away.

If you become more positive, you will relish life more and everyone will enjoy spending time with you. It is not easy for you to change behavior patterns at your age, but sometimes a life crisis such as losing your husband can be an impetus to improve yourself.

I am not certain that you are indeed too critical. I am simply basing my answer on the remarks that those who love you are sharing with you. May Hashem comfort you in this time of great loss, and I wish you hatzlachah in dealing with this difficult situation!

About the Author: Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Respler will be on 102.1 FM at 10:00 pm Sunday evenings after Country Yossi.


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 “Encouraging Without Pushing”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Hamas on the Temple Mount - Jul 3, 2015
Arab Violence on the Temple Mount
Latest Sections Stories

What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?

What makes this diary so historically significant is that it is not just the private memoir of Dr. Seidman. Rather, it is a reflection of the suffering of Klal Yisrael at that time.

Rabbi Lau is a world class speaker. When he relates stories, even concentration camp stories, the audience is mesmerized. As we would soon discover, he is in the movie as well.

Each essay, some adapted from lectures Furst prepared for live audiences, begins with several basic questions around a key topic.

For the last several years, four Jewish schools in the Baltimore Jewish community have been expelling students who have not received their vaccinations.

“We can’t wait for session II to begin” said camp director Mrs. Judy Neufeld.

Chabad Chayil wishes all a happy and healthy remainder of summer.

It’s ironic that the title of terrorist has been bestowed upon a couple whose alleged actions resulted in the death of three turtles.

“There is much for us to learn from this extraordinary family and their outstanding son,” said Rabbi Goldberg.

More Articles from Dr. Yael Respler
Respler-logo-NEW

Personally I wish that I had a mother like my wife.

Respler-logo-NEW

Why should any girl deserve to end up with a guy who can’t even think straight?

Women don’t often realize they are being abused, especially if the abuse is emotional rather than physical.

My children encouraged me to date and even set me up with a very special man.

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

When they all try to speak at once, I will ask them to stop and speak one at a time.

In America one has to either be very rich or impoverished to receive care – the middle class seems to get taken advantage of.

Growing up, I saw the respect my parents had for each other. Then I got married…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/encouraging-without-pushing/2012/03/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: