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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘CHILDREN’

Teaching Responsibility To Our Children

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Parshat Toldot narrates the story of the rivalry between Jacob and Esau. The Torah states that Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, loved Jacob. As the story develops, we are told that when Isaac became old, he wanted to bestow his blessings onto his favorite son, Esau. He instructed Esau to go to the field and prepare venison. When Esau would return with the prepared venison in his hands, Isaac would bless him. Rebecca overheard the directives of Isaac to Esau, and instructed her son Jacob to dress up and pretend to be his brother Esau in order to steal the blessings. In the dramatic encounter between Jacob and Isaac, Isaac bestowed the blessings intended for Esau, on Jacob, ostensibly believing that it was Esau, and not Jacob, who was the recipient of his blessings.

Our sages wrestle with this entire scenario. Did Isaac really know whom he was giving the blessings to? Did his son Jacob deceive him? Was Jacob correct in disguising himself as Esau and stealing the blessings? Did the fact that Rebecca took responsibility for Jacob’s actions, exonerate Jacob of his misdeed?

One point however is clear, Jacob, because he beguiled his father, was punished numerous times during his lifetime. He was fooled by his father in law, Lavan, into marrying Leah and not her sister, Rachel, whom he loved. Jacob’s children deceived him by stating that Joseph had been killed. Lavan deceived him by denying and withholding his true wages. It seems that no matter what interpretation we accept, the simple interpretation is that Almighty G-d did not accept the actions of Jacob in stealing the blessings, and repaid him measure for measure.

There is a lesson that can be derived from this. Ultimately each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions. Children who offer excuses such as “my parents gave me permission”, or parents who insist “my child would never do that” do not absolve them from responsibility. We are all answerable for our own actions. Parents must understand that there are times that we defend our kids but there are also times that we punish them and hold them accountable for their actions.

I recall reading an article focusing on this very point. In brief it told a story of two students who committed the “most reprehensible, embarrassing and unconscionable acts”. The students were eventually expelled from the school that they were attending, but the reactions of the parents were quite divergent.

One set of parents accepted the punishment meted out onto their child. They realized that, ultimately, their child did something reprehensible and deserved the punishment that he got. The other set of parents refused to accept the fact that their son did something wrong and began litigation against the school for the action that it took.

When I was growing up, if I would return home one day from school and tell my parents that I got into trouble, they rarely blamed the school, at least not in my presence. I was always held responsible! If we send our kids to a school that we believe looks out for their well-being, then when things get tough and our kids do something wrong it is usually not the school that is at fault, but the child. Parents must accept the fact that if we hope to develop responsible adults, we must first teach responsibility to our children and hold them accountable when they do something wrong. A child who misbehaves deserves to be disciplined!

When we hear horrendous stories of Jewish schools that become the venue of drug busts, or when we read of students, who are studying in a Yeshiva abroad, caught dealing with drugs, or drinking in the local bars, we must stop blaming the schools for our inadequacies! The ones to blame are the children themselves as well as their parents! Excuses and rationalizations are a detriment to developing responsible adults. We must give children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and accept consequences for their actions.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

Education Ministry Summer Enrichment for Gaza Belt Children

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Most Israeli children find themselves a little bored once school has let out for the summer months. Many summer camp programs last only a couple of weeks at most.

But Education Minister Naftali Bennett says his ministry will extend and expand the summer camps and other activities for children in the Gaza Belt area this year.

Children in Sderot, a city located barely a mile from the Gaza border, will also be included in the program, called the “summer vacation school.”

In addition to the program – for first and second graders – summer camps and enrichment activities will also be held for preschool and other elementary school children as well, Bennett said.

The minister made the announcement to the heads of local authorities and communities in the Gaza Belt region this week.

Hana Levi Julian

75 Children Contract Chickenpox in Williamsburg Outbreak, Failure to Inoculate Cited

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

The New York City health department this week reported an outbreak of chickenpox in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. According to the report, 75 children have been infected by the virus since March. Also, 72% of the children who were infected had not been vaccinated. The median age of these children is 3, but the report cites victims as old as 10.

Back in 2013, NYC health officials reported 30 cases of Measles — 26 in Borough Park and 4 in Williamsburg. A Health Department spokesperson said that “there have been two hospitalizations, a miscarriage and a case of pneumonia as a result of this outbreak. All cases involved adults or children who were not vaccinated due to refusal or delays in vaccination.”

Normally, Chickenpox is prevented through inoculation with the Varicella vaccine given by injection just under the skin, one dose of which prevents 95% of moderate disease cases and 100% of the severe disease. Two doses of vaccine are considered more effective than one. If given to those who are not immune within five days of exposure to chickenpox, it prevents most cases of the disease.

The problem is that by reducing the number of vaccinated children, the community at large is exposed to a greater risk. Vaccinating a large portion of the population also protects those who are not vaccinated. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine vaccination only if a country can keep more than 80% of its people vaccinated.

Jennifer Rosen, director of Epidemiology and Surveillance at the city’s Immunization Bureau, issued a release saying, “Please ensure that your patients and staff are up to date with varicella vaccine. Infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons are at risk for more severe disease and complications. Complications include pneumonia, bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissues, meningitis, encephalitis, birth defects and death.”

According to Department of Health press secretary Christopher Miller, the outbreak has been confined to Williamsburg. DOH has reached out to the Williamsburg ultra-Orthodox community with pamphlets in Yiddish it distributed at an Hatzolah health fair last Sunday, and through local Jewish schools.

According to Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, there will be a meeting Wednesday of community leaders, healthcare providers and school officials with the Department of Health to discuss bringing an end to the chickenpox crisis.

JNi.Media

The Children of Independence

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Israeli soldiers march with Kindergarten children from Efrat as they celebrate the upcoming 68th Independence in Efrat, Gush Etzion

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Photo of the Day

Soul Talk – Giving Your Children the Right Values [audio]

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Rabbi David Aaron discusses how to instill religious values in your kids.

Rabbi David Aaron

Rabbi David Aaron

Israel News Talk Radio

InterNations Report: Israel Fourth Best Place to Raise your Children

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

According to the InterNations survey’s Family Life Index, in a roundup of the world’s 41 top countries to raise a family in, the best three countries are Austria, Finland, and Sweden. And right behind those wealthy, industrialized European nests of socialized everything and the baskets of goodies from the nanny state, in fourth place, you’ll find a country that’s been fighting for its life for almost 70 years, with a huge security budget, supposedly enormous gaps between rich and poor, and ceaseless ethnic strife — and there, according to the survey’s criteria, is the fourth best place on the planet to raise your children. Go figure.

For comparison — the UK came in at 22nd place. The US in 25th place. France in eighth. New Zealand came fifth. Saudi Arabia is in 41st place, so, in case you were planning to go raise your kids in the Kingdom, we can advise you, based on these findings — don’t.

After the success of InterNations’ first Expat survey in 2014, the second annual survey report involved 14,400 expatriate respondents, in one of the biggest topical surveys worldwide. The information benefits mainly the group’s 1.8 million members, who are interested in moving, living, and working abroad. By providing insights into expat life in 64 countries, from Argentina to Vietnam, the report is a valuable resource for people seeking temporary or long-term relocation.

The Expat Insider survey included questions on demographics, basic facts about moving abroad, and daily life in the respective country. The questionnaire especially emphasized individual satisfaction with various aspects of expat living. Survey participants cover a variety of people from 170 countries of origin and all kinds of backgrounds. The section regarding the “family life index” evaluates the best places to raise children, based on three categories:

Availability of Childcare and Education — Israel was ranked 4th, behind Austria, Finland and Sweden. The US ranked 12th, France 13th, the UK an abysmal 24th.

Cost of Childcare and Education — there Israel was ranked 13th, with Sweden, Austria, Finland and Denmark at the top of the list for state-paid education for everyone. France was ranked 8th, the US 37th, right behind the United Arab Emirate, and the UK was in 31st place.

Quality of Education — OK, Israel was ranked only 16th on that one, which could, to be honest, bring into question the entire celebration we’ve been having here. So, it’s available and it’s relatively cheap, but maybe you get what you pay for? Finland, Austria and Singapore—where they cane you for spitting on the sidewalk—lead the bunch, with Kenya, surprisingly, in 7th place (it’s where US presidents get their diplomas, after all). The UK is in 9th place (which is still behind Kenya), France is 11th, the US is 25th. ‘Nuff said.

Finally, there’s the category of Family Well-Being — Israel is ranked 3rd on that one, behind Australia and Austria. Because, let’s face it, Israel is essentially one big family, occasionally happy. The US is 16th (better than we expected, to be honest), Sweden is 10th (on account of the suicides and those truly depressing movies), The UK is in 21st place, and France in 24th.

So the result of the survey, in terms of recommendations to Jews wishing to move abroad with their families, has to be Israel, because, let’s face it, if you’re making the move because you fear the growing anti-Semitism in your country, are you really going to move to Austria or Sweden?

JNi.Media

What Do We Really Want for Our Children?

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Achievement? Happiness? Compassion?

In a study conducted at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, researchers asked 10,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States: “What is most important to you? Achieving at a high level, happiness [defined, in part, as feeling good most of the time], or caring for others?” Of the three options, 48% of students selected high achievement as their top priority, 30% selected happiness, and only 22% placed caring for others at the top of their list.

Those answers are starkly different than what parents say they feel about their children. In fact, 80% of parents rank “caring for others” as the top value they wish their children possess. So, how do we bridge this gap between what parents say they want for their children and the values the children actually internalize? Robert Brooks, the author of Raising Resilient Children, suggests the following steps:

Provide opportunities for chesed. Get your children out there, helping those less fortunate or those in need.

Listen closely. See the world through your children’s eyes. If you have empathy, you can better help them care for others.

Be a strong moral role model. If you show that you are committed to living ethically and taking care of others, your child will be more likely to follow suit.

Help manage destructive feelings. Destructive feelings shouldn’t be ignored; they should be worked through.

 

How does caring for others connect to resilience? Well, the whole way that we parent is connected to resilience. One of the findings of the Harvard study was that “Parents who seek to preserve their children’s happiness by constantly protecting them from adversity can rob them of coping strategies that are crucial in their long-term happiness.” That is all about resilience.

Dr. Brooks explains, “If we examine our parental goals, it would not be an over-simplification to conclude that realization of these goals require that our children have the inner strength to deal competently and successfully, day after day, with the challenges and demands they encounter. We call this capacity to cope and feel competent resilience.

“Resilience embraces the ability of a child to deal more effectively with stress and pressure, to cope with everyday challenges, to bounce back from disappointments, adversity, and trauma, to develop clear and realistic goals, to solve problems, to relate comfortably with others, and to treat oneself and others with respect. Numerous scientific studies of children facing great adversity in their lives support the importance of resilience as a powerful force. Resilience explains why some children overcome overwhelming obstacles, sometimes clawing and scraping their way to successful adulthood, while others become victims of their early experiences and environments.”

Another way of describing resilience is grit. Paul Tough, in his book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, explains that character is created by encountering and overcoming failure. And, character is just what children need to succeed.

            Persistence. Persistence is about knowing what you want and not stopping until you get it. Remember Watty Piper’s The Little Engine that Could? While the little blue engine is the smallest of all the engines, she is the only one who agrees to help the dolls and toys over the mountain. Though it is unclear whether such a small engine can succeed, the engine repeats to herself, “I think I can. I think I can.” And eventually makes it to the other side of the mountain.

It is just this persistence or perseverance that we need to teach our children. When struggling, we need to push ourselves in order to reach our goal. Like all non-cognitive skills, persistence cannot be taught through a worksheet. As parents, we can be role models for our children and teach them that when things are tough, they still need to keep trying. Setting our own goals (whether they are fitness, educational, or personal) and then sharing our triumphs and failures with our children will teach them that it is okay to fail and then keep on working towards a goal. Parents and educators need to model persistence and encourage second, third, and twentieth tries.

            Grit. Grit goes hand in hand with persistence. Children who fail and then pull themselves up and start again are exhibiting grit. They know that though it is painful and their knees are scraped, they can try again. Without grit, there is no persistence – and every failure is final.

            Self control. A famous study in the 1960s, often dubbed the “marshmallow study,” tested children on their self-control. The very young children were handed a marshmallow and told that they could get a second one if they waited until the researcher came back in the room in order to eat the first. Some children ate the first one right away and did not receive a second, but others sang or talked to themselves in order to avoid eating the marshmallow. Eventually, when the researcher returned, those children received a second marshmallow. The researchers then followed those children for the next several decades.

What the researchers found astounded them. Those children who had managed to control themselves in order to get the second marshmallow had more successful marriages, careers, and lives in general. The ability to control themselves and delay gratification ended up allowing them to set goals and achieve them even if it meant waiting a bit along the way. Helping children set goals and then working with them to achieve them is an excellent way to develop self-control.

            Curiosity. Curiosity is about asking questions and wanting to know how the world works. The truth is that you cannot “teach” curiosity. You can, however, model curiosity when your children are little – asking your own questions and working with him to look them up. You can also answer their questions, regardless of how silly or frequent they are. These questions will get longer and more important and as time goes on they will develop skills to answer them themselves.

            Selfconfidence. Self-confidence is about believing in yourself. In order to take risks, fail, and continue again, you need to be confident that you are strong and capable. Part of self-confidence comes from success – and part of it comes from overcoming failure. As parents and educators, we have to let children fail when they deserve to fail in order to help them learn to overcome that failure.

It might be that we need to help our children gain resilience (or grit) and then they will have it all: achievement, happiness, and compassion.

Rifka Schonfeld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/what-do-we-really-want-for-our-children/2016/04/15/

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