Another issue is the consumer culture that many parents don’t want to partake in. Like in many communities, Brooklyn schools have a reputation of being a little materialistic. It is every parent’s prerogative to decide what they want to indulge their child in. However, there is a distinction between wants and needs. As per Dina Freidman, from the sublime parenting program Chanoch Lnaar (clparenting.com), something is a need if everyone in the community has it regardless if you think it’s necessary. For example, in Flatbush, it’s the norm for children to have more then one Shabbos outfit. Therefore, at least two Shabbos outfits becomes a need and if your little girl doesn’t have it, you aren’t teaching her economic principals, you are causing her to feel ostracized.
It’s important to touch base with your child every day to see how things are going. Spend at least ten minutes before bedtime alone with each child, talking to them about their day. This is the best time to pick up little concerns before they explode into major issues.
If you notice your child doesn’t seem to have age appropriate interactions with other kids in their class such as play dates or phone calls, consider working with your child to improve their social skills. A child without friends is in a lot of pain and it’s up to the parent to help him.
You know the adage that if something happens one time, it’s them, not you, but if something happens a few times, it’s you, not them? It is possible that a parent doesn’t always realize that their child is lacking friends or has poor social skills. However, they may get some gentle-or-not-so-gentle comments from other adults. If the topic comes up once, feel free to ignore the comment. However, more then that, it’s worthwhile to look into the matter.
On a final note, if there is any sudden change in disposition or attitude towards school, take immediate action. I would suggest first asking the child in a quiet place if something is wrong. It could be a bullying incident, overwhelming curriculum, or something simpler. If the child is unable or unwilling to give a reason for why he suddenly needs to be dragged out of bed in the morning or complain of a stomachache every day, call the teacher right away and do your best to solve the issue.
Hashem gave you this child as a precious gift. It is your duty to be your child’s advocate. Of course, none of us are perfect and mistakes are part and parcel of everyone’s life. Yet, I truly believe that when a child knows that her parents did the best they can, she feels it, and in the end, everything does works out.Pnina Baim
About the Author: Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, “Choices,” “A Life Worth Living,” and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, “Sing While You Work.” The books are available at amazon.com.
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