Reflection, Rebuke and Reverberations…An open letter to Deborah Feldman
Dear Dr. Yael: My five-year-old son is a very difficult child. Most of the time he will not do what I ask of him, and he has a tantrum when he does not get his way. Interestingly enough, he is much more obedient when it is just the two of us, but if the other children are around he is very hard to manage. I know that as he gets older, things will become more difficult. Thus, I want to help him change his middos now.
11-year old Avi was just awarded a trip to visit his cousins in Detroit – because he didn’t get into trouble in school or fight with his siblings for one week. The prize his parents originally had in mind was a new speed bike, but when that failed to motivate him sufficiently, they searched for a more appealing incentive.
Dear Dr. Respler: I love my wife, who is by nature a difficult person. As a result, our seven children gravitate more to me than to her. She thinks she is always right, her favorite line being “I told you so.” This is annoying and drives all of us crazy.
Mrs. D., the mother of two children under the age of four, came to see me – she was in the seventh month of her third pregnancy. This baby was unexpected. She had “difficulty” after her last pregnancy, and already tearful, she wanted me to get to know her now, so that I could help her later, when the depression hit. She was not sure she would be able to handle it all again.
Yes, beauty plays a role in courtship. But when we allow it to rule, then we – not beauty – become our daughters’ tyrants. We are fearful our daughters will remain single for too long, and so we grasp at straws – thin, brittle, unstable straws. But “extreme makeovers” and intensifying their already ample body-image anxieties are not the answer.
Dear Dr. Respler: I am, Baruch Hashem, a healthy mother and grandmother who was recently trying to be helpful to my married daughter. After Shabbos my daughter, who has a large family, had many dishes piled in the sink. I planned on rinsing the dishes and placing them in the dishwasher, and then straightening up downstairs while she put her younger children to sleep. Aware of my plans my daughter, who loves me and means well, said, “Ma, please don’t work so hard. I will put the children to sleep, and then I can clean up and load the dishwasher quickly. I will do it quicker than you, and I want you to relax.” I was hurt. I know that she really wanted me to take it easy, but suddenly I felt like an old, useless woman. Do you think my daughter was right? How can I tell her how I feel without hurting her? My husband and I are planning to move in with my daughter, son-in-law and their children for Pesach. We always enjoy going there, but I do not feel good when I cannot be useful. I would like to help my daughter over Pesach, and would feel better if she allowed me to help her. Please advise me. A Healthy Grandmother
Dear Gary, As Pesach approaches, I get worried because I want to have a great Yom Tov, and yet, every year, the seder ends in some sort of fighting and arguing. My husband wants the seder to be all about divrei Torah and so do I, but between the younger children (who we want to be awake for the whole seder) and guests, we somehow end up in stern looks and squabbles. I'm happy we have guests or else we'd probably start yelling at each other and even Eliyahu Hanavi would bail. I know everyone jokes about how tough Pesach is, but I can't see the humor anymore – and neither can my children. What can we do to manage a calm (I don't even wish for happy) seder? A Sad Mom
In our March 16 issue we featured The Tyranny of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers Of Girls In Shidduchim, in which the author described a “Meet and Greet” for young women in a certain age and mindset (looking for young men who are sitting and learning) and mothers of the young men they could potentially date. The article received a tremendous amount of comments on our website and via e-mail. Below are some of the responses.
Is this what three thousand and three hundred years of Jewish tradition has come to, that a nation that has always dared to walk alone, with different ideals and values from the wider culture, should so fully capitulate to the most corrupt, misogynistic values, that we would advocate that our young women have plastic surgery in order to get married?
Don't worry, Yitta, I'm not going to crucify you, as you feared. I actually agreed with the gist of your article, which was obviously heartfelt and well-intended. I just want to point out where you crossed a line...
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.
In the first part of this article (Family Issues 3-2-2012) I shared the many memories resulting from my year of avaylus (mourning) for my mother. This week I would like to connect those memories to a better understanding of how good could potentially come from bad happenings in an effort to improve relationships.
I know I’m going to be crucified, but if the appeal I make below helps even one girl in shidduchim, then it will be worth all the fury and outrage that shall inevitably descend upon my soon-to-be beleaguered head.
It was Yehudah’s third birthday party. Instead of calmly interacting with his guests, he either ignored them or bossed them around with his limited vocabulary of ten words. He ran around nonstop and elbowed every person in his path. Then, his mother, Shoshana, decided he needed some time to himself so she asked him to play quietly in the den for a few minutes.
Dear Dr. Yael: I read the March 2 letter from A Lonely Wife who feels unappreciated and neglected as she seeks more attention from her...