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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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‘Hey Ma, Es Kimpt Mir’

Kupfer-030113

Not exactly good husband material.

This mother had failed the test that her child had unknowingly put her through – setting limits. Children know that they are just that – children. To them the world is at once fascinating but confusing, wondrous but scary. They WANT their parents, who they view as their guardians and protectors, to be in charge. Being in the driver’s seat terrifies them.

They desperately need to hear, “No” or “You can’t do that.” Limits, boundaries and restrictions reassure them and make them feel safe – and valued. They really want their demands to be over-ridden despite their highly vocal protests to the contrary. Instinctively they know that their parents are acting in their best interests – blatant proof that they care about them.

“Giving in” occasionally because of special circumstances is okay, even necessary at times for the parent’s mental and physical state – but if “capitulation parenting” is the norm, then both child and parents are in for a lot of grief. Children who are used to having the world revolve around them, with their every whim and demand catered to, will be in for a very rude awakening when they grow up. They will discover that the rest of the planet will not kowtow to them. They risk being social misfits unable to relate to their more mature peers who have realistic expectations in terms of obtaining immediate gratification.

Kids who are allowed to be in control way before they are intellectually and emotionally equipped to do so risk growing up with negative self-esteem. The message these kids likely internalize over the years is, “You didn’t care enough to stop me from myself.” This can cause a poor self -image and low self-esteem that can gravely hamper their ability to socially and emotionally interact in a functional way in the adult world.

The unrealistic expectation of always getting their way and having their demands met is especially problematic when they enter the shidduch parsha. A “kimpt mir” mindset can only lead to matrimonial disaster.

I remember to this day a cartoon I once saw with a timeless, ironic message. A bride and groom stand before the justice of the peace/cleric getting married and a bubble over their heads show an image of what they envision wedded life will be like. The bride sees herself in bed, her spouse carefully bending down as he smilingly hands her an elaborate breakfast tray full of goodies. The groom has the same vision of her catering to him!

They are both in for a very shocking, sobering surprise.

I ended up not talking to this young mother. Her nerves already frazzled, I sensed she would not appreciate that I didn’t mind my own business and would misdirect her angry frustration on me.

So she walked away out of sight, the ice cream in the cart and the child finally quiet – until the candy aisle, no doubt.

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