web analytics
July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Critical Comments And Your Children’s Futures

As my friend Eve (not her real name) and I started filling our plates at a recent buffet dinner, she commented that lucky for her, her mother wasn’t with us.

 

“Why not?” I asked taken aback, wishing with all my heart that I could share a meal with my mother again.

 

“Because she would have said I was a piggy,” Eve answered in a matter-of fact-voice that belied the deep hurt that I knew were hidden in those words.

 

“But you’re not fat,” I told her. “And besides, you’re a grandmother. What’s the point?”

 

“Mom always had a hang-up about my weight. When I visit, she scrutinizes every morsel I eat. Imagine if she lived in town…”

I shook my head in agreement. My friend’s mother, like my own and many others, were Holocaust survivors and even though I thought that Europeans traditionally favored the rounded “Rubenesque” figure as opposed to the emaciated “waif” look, I was wrong. Our mothers had bought into the “thin – you’re in, stout – you’re out” mentality.

A whole generation of us grew up with conflicting messages. We were told on the one hand to eat everything on our generously-heaped plates – it was a sin to waste food – yet we were made to feel we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.

Unfortunately, many girls were the targets of demeaning comments for no real reason, as the perception of their being fat was frequently incorrect. The same way that anorexics fail to perceive their stick-like arms and exposed ribs in the mirror, seeing only layers of fat, many mothers looked at their daughters and saw chubby, chunky girls – even though they were a normal weight.

I am not a psychologist and cannot offer a professional explanation as to why so many women are critical of their daughters, often needlessly so. I can only offer my personal take. Firstly, weight is often just a popular “flaw” to zero in on, but there are a myriad of others. One friend told me that as a teenager, as she got ready to go to shul dressed in a lovely new Yom Tov outfit that showed off her newly slim figure – her mother commented on how her hair was a mess, and she shouldn’t even think of going out. A neighbor visiting had heard the conversation, and exclaimed, “What are you saying? Pessy (not her real name) looks lovely!”

I am convinced that these mothers truly love their daughters (and sons, whose self-esteem they deflate in other ways) and want them to succeed. Yet, they undermine their children by unwittingly hammering away at their self-confidence. My guess is that these women have serious self-esteem issues and that is why they negatively view those whom they see as extensions of themselves – their offspring. “If I am flawed, my child must also be.” Hence the comments – “you’re too fat,” or “your grades aren’t good enough,” even though the child isn’t by any means heavy or s/he got a respectable A- on an exam.

When the people whom you have trusted since birth as being all-knowing tell you that you are inadequate, you believe them. When the caring, gentle mother who knew how to make your belly-ache and fever go away and knew how to fix your broken toys tells you that you are fat, stupid, lazy, or ugly, you accept it as truth, since she was right on so many other things as you were growing up.

The sad outcome – the child’s self-image and confidence are decimated. “Pessy” believed that she was ugly, gave up, and ended up gaining back every pound she lost. She ultimately married an emotionally abusive man who criticized and belittled everything she did. His behavior was familiar (the root of that word is family) and she was used to it. Only with therapy did she realize that this wasn’t how relationships were supposed to be.

Happily, Pessy got of this miserable marriage where she was an unappreciated schmatta and is doing relatively well. Sadly, many do not find their way back to a healthy appreciation of who they are and like their mothers (or fathers) before them, view their own kids as being inferior in some way and in turn degrade them.

It is very hard to change learned behaviors, but we should take a cue from baalei teshuvah. Despite having, for example, grown up eating treif, or opening lights on Shabbos, they have managed to learn how to refrain from doing so. In reforming, they have re-formed their life-long habits. When you are about to say something negative to your child, think how you felt when someone you looked up to said that to you. After all, isn’t this what Hillel explained to a gentile nobleman who wanted a short synopsis of what the Torah was all about? He said: “Don’t do to your fellow man what you wouldn’t want done to you.”

Children aren’t perfect and should be corrected, reprimanded or disciplined when necessary. But your words and actions should not be blows to their egos. The dents never go away. Most importantly, be realistic about their “flaws” and what they can or cannot do to improve them. Talk to your child (spouse, parent, friend) with love and gentle encouragement that will make them feel good about themselves. They will be motivated to reach the goals you mutually agree on. Your words can be the fuel that drives them – or the toxic fumes that stifle them.

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 “Critical Comments And Your Children’s Futures”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
ISIS in Egypt, according to an image it posted on social media.
Report: Hamas Helped Sinai Terrorists Wage War Against Egypt
Latest Sections Stories
Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

Marceau suggested a dark reason for his wordless art: “The people who came back from the [concentration] camps were never able to talk about it…. My name is Mangel. I am Jewish. Perhaps that, unconsciously, contributed towards my choice of silence.”

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

It may be that seeking to connect with the past is rooted in the impermanence and impersonality of modern life.

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

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-060515-Supermen

There are fathers who bravely step up to the plate and fill in the maternal vacuum with their love and devotion.

Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/critical-comments-and-your-childrens-futures/2005/02/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: