web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Giving Parental Advice: Is It A Good Idea?

Respler-092713

Dear Dr. Yael:

How do I express my opinion in an appropriate way?

There are some aspects of my sister’s parenting that I do not agree with, and feel that her methods in these areas are harming her children. I do not claim to be the best parent in the world, but I am confident that my instincts in my sister’s situation are correct.

For example, for many years my sister put her four-year-old son to bed at a late hour and he would not wake up for school the next day. She always had difficulty in the mornings, frustrating her. I knew that if she would put her son to bed 10 minutes earlier each night, she would eventually get him to bed at a decent hour and he would wake up earlier without difficulty.

Here’s my problem: I did not know if I should say anything to her and, if yes, what to say. My sister kept complaining to me, so eventually I bluntly said, “Why don’t you just put him to bed 10 minutes earlier each night?” At first she was annoyed with me for having given her advice, but after a few days she did as I suggested and, lo and behold, it worked.

I had very mixed feelings about what I had done. On the one hand, I saw that my sister got annoyed; on the other hand, she got over it quickly and my advice helped her and my nephew.

Recently, my sister has been talking to me about an issue she’s having with another one of her sons. He is overweight, and my sister worries about his emotional and physical wellbeing. Others are making fun of him in school because of this. I know that if my sister would completely change things in her home, making it a healthier environment, her son and all of her children would be greatly helped. But I recognize that this is a very sensitive topic, in addition to the fact that it is not easy to change eating habits.

This leaves me in a precarious situation, as I do not know what to do. While I want to help my nephew by sharing my ideas with my sister, I do not want to hurt her or get involved if she feels that it is none of my business. What would you suggest I do in this situation and in future ones?

A Loving Sister

Dear Loving Sister:

Thank you for your interesting letter. You are not alone in your dilemma as many siblings love and want to help each other but do not always know the best way to go about it. You are indeed in a precarious situation, with much depending on how – rather than what – you say.

There is definitely an art to communication. You can say almost anything if phrased correctly. For instance, in your current situation, you can try to make your point without directly telling your sister what to do.  This can be done for example, by telling your sister a story about your friend’s overweight daughter. Tell your sister that your friend took her daughter to a nutritionist who encouraged her to change the entire family’s lifestyle so the young girl would not feel like the “problem” and, at the same time, everyone would eat in a healthier way.

You can excitedly report that although this was a difficult challenge, your friend did as prescribed and her daughter lost a lot of weight. Nothing more need be said during this conversation. You can then tactfully change the subject, or you can answer any questions that your sister has. This tactic would relieve you of being considered bossy and giving your sister unsolicited advice. This may become complicated if your sister asks to speak to this friend, but you can always say that your friend wishes to remain anonymous.

If you are more comfortable speaking in a direct fashion with your sister, you can tell her – in a loving and non-confrontational way – that although the subject matter you wish to discuss with her might be considered out of line, you would like to help her deal with an issue regarding her son. Calmly and non-judgmentally state that you have heard about other people having utilized nutritionists to help them in similar situations that your son faces. With the right guidance, those seeking help were able to change the eating habits of their families – ultimately helping their overweight children.

It is essential that you not feel defensive or nervous during this discussion. You need to ensure that your expressed opinion does not come off as intrusive. However, if you feel nervous and do not think you can speak to your sister calmly, it would be prudent to share your feeling of nervousness with her, showing her that you love her and would never want to hurt her. Being honest about your feelings can only help the situation. And make sure that you do not lose sight of the fact that it’s your sister’s needs – not yours – that must be addressed.

Weigh the pros and cons of the specifics of what you want to say, always remembering that your goal is to be helpful. After all, no one likes being told what to do.

Parenting is often a sensitive topic. We all strive to be good parents on our own while many are consumed by “Jewish guilt” for never being good enough. Thus, hearing parenting advice from a sibling or friend can often be difficult to accept. So when advice is given by relaying a story about a friend as opposed to a personal experience, the counsel is likely to be accepted more readily.

If a more direct approach is warranted, be extremely sensitive and say as little as possible while getting your point across. Take notice that in my aforementioned example, the sister did not mention that her overweight child would be helped. This was purposely done because no one wants to hear that his or her child has problems or is being labeled. Even if we label our children or complain about them, it is still very painful to hear someone else say the same thing about them. Hence the need to be very careful with your tone and lack of unsolicited mussar.

Bottom line: make your case sweet and simple, and then change topics to avoid continuing to talk about a painful subject. Hatzlachah!

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 “Giving Parental Advice: Is It A Good Idea?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Brandeis University junior Khadijah Lynch who tweeted she has "no sympathy" for slain NYPD officers, shown here on "Wake Up With Tayla Andre, "Dec. 24, 2014.
A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis
Latest Sections Stories
Collecting-History-logo

An incredible child protégé and a world chess champion, Boris Spassky (1937- ), best known for his “Match of the Century” loss in Reykjavík to Fischer, will always be inexorably tied to the latter.

book-super-secret-diary

Who hasn’t experienced how hard it can be to fit in?

In our times, most of us when we pray, our minds are on something else-it is hard to focus all the time.

The participants discussed the rich Jewish-Hungarian heritage, including that two-thirds of the fourteen Hungarian Nobel Prize winners have Jewish origin.

Today’s smiles are in the merit of my friend and I made a conscious effort to smile throughout the day.

When someone with a fixed mindset has a negative interaction with a friend or loved one, he or she immediately projects that rejection onto him or herself saying: “I’m unlovable.”

How many potential shidduchim are not coming about because we, the mothers, are not allowing them to go through?

Is the Torah offering nechama by subtly hinting that death brings reunion with loved ones who preceded you?

She approached Holofernes and, with a sword concealed under her robe, severed his head.

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

More Articles from Dr. Yael Respler
Respler-121914

How many potential shidduchim are not coming about because we, the mothers, are not allowing them to go through?

Respler-logo-NEW

I so desperately want to have a loving relationship with my stepsons.

Isn’t there anyone making a simcha who understands that loud music can cause hearing loss?

My mother thinks of herself as a superior person, has very little feelings for other people, and probably suffers from a deep lack of self-esteem.

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

There are many people today with very little training who put out shingles and proclaim themselves to be marital coaches, shalom bayis helpers, advisers etc.

When one marries someone with children, all family members must accept them.

My mother-in-law is totally devoted to her daughters and their children. Her sons’ children on the other hand are treated like second-class citizens.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/giving-parental-advice-is-it-a-good-idea/2013/09/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: