Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
In this week’s Dating Primer column, Rosie Einhorn and Sherry Zimmerman write about the destructive nature of frequent, often unjustified criticism directed towards children and some of the repercussions of what they feel is unintentional but nonetheless genuine verbal abuse.
Like any kind of abuse, the scars last a lifetime and are a great impediment to the likelihood of the child having a fulfilling life socially and professionally once it is an adult.
Children who are constantly being told they are failures, or disappointments – no matter what they do – grow up with a low opinion of themselves and view themselves as unlikable
or unacceptable individuals. In many cases, these youngsters are berated because of their own parents’ insecurities, and need to relive their lives through their children’s achievements.
An example of unwarranted disapproval is when a parent scolded a student for not getting a higher grade in a test even though (s)he did very well. Girls may be told they are too fat and therefore ugly – even though they are barely overweight, if at all. Kids are being told they are stupid, or clumsy because they spilled their milk, or dropped a dish, or lost their gloves. They internalize this ego-damaging message if it is frequently given.
Whether they are bright, or talented, or good looking is irrelevant – their perception of themselves is their reality.
When babies are born, their view of the world is totally tied to their parent’s interpretations. For example, when a parent points out a danger such as fire, or falling down steps, the toddler accepts this view – especially if the child does fall down the steps, or touches a flame. The child trusts his parents (or caregivers). If a parent often ridicules a child, then why shouldn’t the child – who has no other point of reference – not believe the mother or father who is the center of his/her world?
If Mommy was right about the flame, and right about not climbing on the counter…. then she must be right when she says, “You’re stupid.”
These children have heard from the time they understood words and body language that they are inferior beings. The consequences of thinking lowly of themselves is devastating. Ironically, some parents disparage their kids thinking that this will motivate them to try harder. But the
opposite happens. Some kids just give up trying, knowing they will fail to measure up no matter what they do – so why even bother trying. Others become overachievers in a futile attempt to please their parents and elicit a compliment or praise.
These kids tend to grow up to have commitment problems – both socially and professionally, and are easy targets of abusive predators.
The young adults who are “accomplished” on the outside – are set up with “top shidduchim” who they eventually reject. They do so out of fear that their date will find out how “inadequate” they really are. They are always afraid of being found out as inferior beings (that is what they have been told all their lives). They end the relationship and stay single. They may be labeled as being too picky when the truth is they are terrified the other party will discover that they are
“frauds”. They feel that they are not good enough and are terrified of being “found out.”
Those who do marry often end up with spouses with dysfunctional personalities – those who are physically or emotionally abusive. If someone thinks they are ugly or stupid, they feel more comfortable with other “losers” like themselves. When their spouse yells that the meat is overdone, or the house is dirty (even when this is not true), this kind of unjustified criticism and denigration is familiar (these kind of negative judgments is what they heard from their
parents) – and is accepted as the truth.
These unfortunate souls often allow themselves to be bullied in the work place by their co-workers, or taken advantage of by their bosses – and they allow it – because deep down they know that they “don’t measure up”.
The only way to get out of this low self-imposed quicksand is for the individual to get therapy. Often the young people do not know why they can’t make a marital commitment- why they are rejecting good potential spouses. On a conscious level, they say they want to get married.
Subconsciously, buried deep in their fragile egos is the fear of failure, or the belief that they are incompetent, which prevents them from taking that leap into the unknown. People with a severe lack of confidence tend to avoid risks, since they are convinced they will not be successful.
That fear is why many stay single or end up in mediocre jobs that are below their capabilities. Fear of inadequacy and failure stops them from taking on a situation that requires any real measure of responsibility and efficiency.
Sadly, those who do marry and become parents are likely to repeat the destructive ego-busting habits of their parents, (A) because they don’t know any other parenting styles - and
(B) like their parents, they are hoping that being hard on their kids will “give them a second chance” – through their kids’ “achievements” to show that they weren’t total failures.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, and a new generation will be the latest victims of pathetic parenting.
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The snow has melted in most parts of the country and here in Florida, where I have my winter dugout in the Orthodox enclave of Century Village in West Palm Beach, I had the opportunity to take in several spring training games.
Everyone is always looking for cute yet simple and inexpensive ideas to enhance their table at special occasions. Here are some attractive ways to create that festive look. Whether you use china or plastic, your guests will surely be delighted with your charming setup.
What made an M.I.T. scholarship student, taking time off from his doctorate in medicine, to backpack, and then decide to backtrack, chuck it all… and get a haircut? Perhaps it is easier to understand a Harvard law student becoming enamored with the logic of Gemara and settling down to struggle with the intellectual challenges of Aramaic acrobatics.
What do you do with fruit that has turned just a little soft and squishy and that no one in your household wants to eat?
JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
Q: What does twice exceptional or 2e mean?
The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.
Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.
According to Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar, “Gifts for the poor [matanot l’evyonim] deserve more attention than the seudah and mishloach manot because there is no greater, richer happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans, widows and proselytes.”
Having everyone home on a snow day can be a lot of fun – the first few times it happens. Once snow day number six hits, perhaps not so much and the real creativity has to come out.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
But even though their medical situations were similar, how they mentally dealt with their new status quo was often as different as night and day.
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 in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/stunted-souls/2004/04/21/
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