web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Imperfectly Critical


Kupfer-102513

As my friend “Eva” and I started filling our plates at a recent buffet lunch, she smiled wryly at the baked ziti and the bagel smeared with cream cheese she had piled on her plate, and commented that lucky for her, her mother wasn’t with us.

“Why,” I asked somewhat taken aback, wishing with all my heart that I had the opportunity to share a meal with my mother again.

“Because she would have said I was being a ‘piggy,’ that no one would want to marry me the way I look and basically make me feel inadequate,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone that belied the deep hurt and frustration I knew were hidden in her words.

“But why would she say that!” I exclaimed. “You’re not fat! You might not be hired as a model, but you’re not heavy!  Besides, you’re a grandmother many times over. You’re old enough to choose what and how much to eat.”

“Mom always had a hang-up about my weight. When I visit her she scrutinizes every morsel I put in my mouth. And always has a negative comment on how I look.”

I shook my head in agreement.  Eva’s mother, like my own and many others in our crowd of friends, were Holocaust survivors and even though I thought Europeans of that generation were not fixated on weight, they nonetheless had bought into the North American mentality that “less” (of you) was more. Thin is in and stout is out.

How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages.  On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.

While the girls were pressured to look their best, the boys were pressured to excel academically. I came to the conclusion that many survivors experienced extreme guilt for being alive when they felt that others in their family had been more worthy of a second chance.   To make “sense” of their survival and alleviate their guilt, they must have felt that they had to produce “super children.”  Giving the world a world-renowned cancer specialist son or a beauty queen daughter would, in their guilt-ridden souls, justifies their existence.  Anything less than perfect had to be continuously pointed out and harped upon until the flaw was fixed.

But how then to account for the same behavior in parents who were not Holocaust survivors?   For as I grew up and expanded my circle of friends and acquaintances, I realized that there were children who had been raised by parents not mentally and emotionally traumatized by the Shoah, yet they too demanded perfection and were disparaging, judgmental and disapproving of their kids. I remember being told that a girl who came in second in a multi-school gymnastic competition was berated by her dad for not coming in first. Enraged, he tossed her silver medal into the trash can.

I am not a psychologist and cannot offer a professional explanation as to why mothers and fathers are so chronically censorious of their children – often needlessly so.  I can only offer my observations and conclusions.

I am convinced that critical parents who constantly shower their kids with toxic, negative comments truly love their children and may feel that berating them will cause them to try harder. They are tragically unaware that they are destroying their children’s egos and shredding whatever positive sense of self-esteem they have.  They are in fact setting them up to fail, by breaking their spirit and hamstringing their ability to be assertive and confident when dealing with others socially or in the workforce.

So why are these parents so hypercritical?  Why do they have expectations that are unattainable?

My guess is that these individuals themselves have very low self-esteem. It is very likely that they had parents who demeaned and minimized them. Those parents had probably been raised by mothers and fathers who were perfectionists or had some kind of personality disorder – and the cycle continues.

Each generation seems to carry on the dysfunctional parenting they were subjected to.

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 “Imperfectly Critical”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS Released Map
The Ally No One Wants In War Against ISIS: The Jews
Latest Sections Stories
Calmer Times. Breslov chassidim on erev Rosh Hashanah in 2012 at the grave of Rav Nachman in Uman.

As optimistic as Menachem Rosenberg is – and he said he is going to Uman – he’s sure that this year, most of the travelers will not tour other religious sites or places in Ukraine.

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

Not enjoying saying no, I often succumbed to requests viewing them as demands I couldn’t refuse.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-080114

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

Kupfer-071814

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.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Lately I have been hearing quiet grumblings from people who admit that they regret not encouraging their sons to get a post-high school education after a year or two of learning.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/imperfectly-critical/2013/10/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: