web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dear Dr’

Let Kids Be Kids

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I now see why so many children are insecure.

I have been a day-care provider for many years. When parents initially consider day care they want a small group so their children will not be neglected. But problems arise when their children turn two, and nursery or playgroup becomes an option. All of a sudden a group of 20-25 children is not a problem because it is much cheaper. I refer to two-two and a half year olds, whose parents feel that they need to exclusively be with children their own age.

These children nap for a good two hours; being in a disciplined environment is not really a must at this age. I have witnessed many playgroup settings where “let’s go, you have to come with us,” or “you have to… etc.” are the prevalent phrases.

Here’s my question: Why can’t these children enjoy being toddlers? In daycare we play, read stories, paint, etc. But if a child does not want to join and would rather play with his cars or trains, what’s the harm? I respect and welcome your opinion.

Morah Deena

Note to readers: The following reply was written by Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist:

Dear Morah Deena:

Younger children definitely need more attention than older ones and, while it is good to teach children, as they get older, to be more independent, two-year-olds are definitely too young to advocate for themselves when they are in group of 20-25 other children. Of course every child is different, some being more mature than others. However, a study completed by two Harvard Medical School researchers, Michael L. Commons and Patrice M. Miller, found that America’s “let them cry” attitude toward children can lead to more fears and insecurities among adults.

The researchers further found that physical contact and reassurance will make children more secure and better able to form adult relationships when they finally make their own way in life. Many playgroups are aware that children need much love and attention, and ensure that they receive an abundance of it. But some nurseries have too many children and thus cannot guarantee that the children’s emotional needs are being met. These places should certainly be avoided, even if they have a monetary lure.

The money that will be saved by sending your precious children to a place that may not feed their emotional requirements will surely be used later on in life to help him or her regain self-esteem. To build up that self-esteem now, it is imperative that you give your children your time and love when they are with you. And when they’re in school, it is also very important to ensure that they receive love and attention in order to feel secure in your absence.

Self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. When children feel secure, they can make better life choices regarding friends, schoolwork, and eventually a spouse. Conversely, insecure children often have various social and academic problems that can permeate their lives. If parents try hard to imbue their children with self-esteem, why would they allow them to be neglected in school?

As children mature and gain more independence, they are expected to function in a classroom with 20-25 children. While all children surely benefit from some one-on-one attention, it is important that they learn to become more independent and to wait for their needs to be met.

As with everything else, children need a balance between attention and independence. They need us to fill their lives with love and positive energy, but as they grow older they also need to learn that they are not the center of everyone’s universe and that they will sometimes have to wait for their needs to be met. This is why we usually encourage parents to give children some sort of pre-school experience. In addition to the excellent social skills that children learn from attending school, they also learn how to function within a group setting along with the basic give-and-take of a micro-society.

Thus I agree that younger children (i.e. 2-3 year olds) benefit from a smaller-size daycare or playgroup surrounding. It would be ideal for a parent to find a small playgroup (5-7 children) with a morah that is loving and laid back. It is beneficial for all children, whatever the age, to have structure. At the same time, young children need the freedom to follow their own will – within certain parameters.

Making Peace With Your Mother-In-Law

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

I have a problem with my mother-in-law.

My in-laws and I have always had a good relationship, so this unexpected problem is really bothering me. Let me explain. Recently, my in-laws invited my husband to a baseball game; they had an extra ticket. My husband wanted to go, and it was our understanding that he would be going with my father-in-law. So I gathered the children, thinking that we were going to spend time with my mother-in-law while the men went to the ballgame. But upon arriving at my in-laws’ house, I saw that my mother-in-law was dressed to go to the game. Feeling silly staying alone in their house, I told my husband that I did not want him to go with them, but rather wanted us all to just go home. My husband agreed, and that’s what we did.

The next day my mother-in-law called my husband and insinuated that I am a very controlling wife. That evening my husband stopped by at his parents’ house and they invited him to go out with them for dinner. He called to invite me to join them. Even though I had supper prepared, I gladly accepted the invitation.

My mother-in-law screamed in the background that the invitation was meant for her son, not for me. I told my husband to go, but I was very hurt.

As I have always had a close relationship with my mother-in-law, I do not understand why she is acting this way toward me. Further, my husband and I have a very loving relationship. So why is she trying to divide us? Why would my in-laws invite only my husband to the baseball game and then invite only him to eat out with them?

I have not said anything to my in-laws about this, and we are speaking with each other as if nothing happened. But the pain in my heart is so great. I always loved my mother-in-law and was very close to her. We shared a loving relationship before all this happened. Please help me handle this situation.

Heartbroken Daughter-in-Law

Dear Heartbroken:

I feel your pain and understand your feeling of being upset with your in-laws’ actions. But if they have always been good to you, it would be prudent to think about this situation from another perspective, namely that perhaps the baseball game incident was all a big misunderstanding. Maybe your in-laws thought that you understood that they only had one extra ticket and thus invited your husband. While it may not be the nicest thing to do, it is not terrible for your in-laws to want to spend time with their son.

In-laws should certainly treat their in-law children like their own children, with love and respect. After you and your husband went home, perhaps your in-laws felt hurt by what they perceived as a slap in the face – after offering your husband a “gift.” Maybe they did not see things from your perspective and did not understand why you were so upset that you made your husband go home. This may have led them to believe that you were controlling him.

It appears that your in-laws’ behavior was inappropriate, but we must always try to see things from the viewpoint of others and be dan l’kaf zechus (giving people the benefit of the doubt). Since you are obviously still upset about the situation, it would be best to ask your in-laws when it would be convenient for all of you to talk about what happened. When you meet, calmly tell them that you love them very much and want to have a good relationship with them. Explain to them that you felt hurt when you got to their house and realized that they were going to the game without you. Explain that maybe it was a misunderstanding, but you expected to have some company and not be left alone all day with the children. If you are really courageous you might even apologize for leaving, but clarify that you were reacting to feeling hurt and upset. You can also tell them that you felt hurt when they excluded you from joining them and your husband for dinner.

Understanding Post Partum Feelings

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael,

I gave birth a little over a year ago and, even though it was not my first child, I felt differently this time around. I have always been a happy-go-lucky person, but after having this baby I could not seem to return to my previous self. I was moody, short-tempered and gloomy. While some of these symptoms could have been chalked up to normal baby blues, they persisted and I was becoming scared.

I tried to tell myself that everything would be okay and that I just needed more sleep. This was partially true, but even when I got more sleep I didn’t feel like myself. After struggling for a few months, I decided to seek outside help. I was told that I was suffering from postpartum depression. This shocked me, as depression sounded serious. But I felt better knowing that there was a name for how I felt.

Since my depression was not severe (I was able to function and was not suicidal), I opted to try therapy and undergo an exercise regimen. Additionally, I made sure to get more sleep and not let myself become overwhelmed. In short, I learned to ask for help when I needed it.

I slowly began to heal and started seeing parts of myself return. With time, I no longer needed therapy. I still try to maintain my exercise routine and yes, I splurge more often on extra help than I formerly did because these things seem to help me keep my sanity.

Many women feel that they must be superwomen. I simply wish to tell them that while their feelings are understandable, they are not always realistic. If they have unusual feelings after giving birth, they should not think that those thoughts are just going to go away. Of course we all have bad days, but constant gloomy feelings are not normal – and no one should have to suffer in that way.

Please help others understand that postpartum depression is neither a death sentence nor an embarrassment. We all have things we need to work on, and if a new mother is feeling this way, she needs to seek help.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for your honest and important letter. Many people suffer from postpartum depression. And yes, there is a fine line between baby blues and postpartum depression. Baby blues (e.g. feeling mildly depressed and experiencing mood swings) after having a baby is extremely common, and most women experience these feelings. Symptoms include moodiness, sadness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, appetite changes and concentration problems. Baby-blues symptoms usually become evident a few days after giving birth and could last from several days to a few weeks. But sometimes the abovementioned symptoms are more severe and could last significantly longer than a few weeks. This is when, as you described above, it is time to seek outside assistance.

Here are some symptoms of postpartum depression:

· Lack of interest in your baby
· Negative feelings toward your baby
· Worrying about hurting your baby
· Lack of concern for yourself
· Loss of pleasure
· Lack of energy and motivation
· Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
· Changes in appetite or weight
· Sleeping more or less than usual
· Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Dear readers, if you are feeling suicidal or have significant negative feelings towards your baby, you need to seek medical help immediately. Certain anti-depressants can help alleviate these symptoms and can be used in conjunction with therapy, exercise, sleeping, and having some time for yourself, in order to conquer the depression. Please do not try to help yourself on your own if you are feeling these symptoms, as you are at risk of hurting yourself or your baby. I know that many people see depression as a weakness and an embarrassment, but it is not something you can control.

If you had strep throat, would you tell yourself to stop being so childish and instead pull yourself together? Would you be embarrassed to talk about antibiotics because other people will think less of you as a person? Of course not! Regardless of what some may think, mental health works the same way. If you are suffering from neurological or hormonal changes that are severely affecting your mood and functioning abilities, you need to take the necessary steps to get better.

Boundless Miracles Available For The Taking

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:
The holidays are a great time to learn about ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly – and then try to make lemonade from the lemons, turn the positive into building blocks, and generally create good things from the lessons learned. The Yamim Tovim are saturated with kedushah, leading to beautifully crafted creations from what one learned and experienced during these holy, spiritual days. While some believe that it is only through an actual, seen object that building blocks can be formed, a Torah-based experience can lead to the same result. This Pesach I came to believe that the seemingly impossible is possible and that miracles can happen.

No, I didn’t see Eliyahu HaNavi. No, a large sum of money was not mysteriously placed into my family’s bank account. This is not how I saw yad Hashem. This Yom Tov made me believe that I had, and continue to have, the koach to enrich people’s lives.

I like to think I was born with a good heart, always willing to care for and stand by those who were easy prey. But issues got in the way, making me cynical and angry – putting the aforementioned characteristic on hold. But, Baruch Hashem, a good marriage to a wonderful guy has reconnected me with this good trait, and over Pesach I clearly saw people’s contentment as a result of my heartfelt goodness toward them. To me, that was a miracle.

Prior to our Erev Pesach trek to family for the sedarim, on the way to the garage, my husband and I met up with a woman in our building. A few weeks before, she started to confide in me about difficulties in her life. She is Jewish but not frum, and I realized that she was disconnected from HaKadosh Baruch Hu in a great way. She said that family members were taking advantage of her in a business-related matter and she couldn’t understand why Hashem would allow this to happen. I told her that although it seemed as if these people had the upper hand and that there was no way justice could be meted out, Hashem had wondrous ways of righting things. I then introduced her to a book about emunah that was written for frum and non-frum people alike. So before we left to celebrate Pesach, the holiday that strengthens emunah, she came to me with book in hand, telling me how it was helping her deal with everything going on in her life. She called me her little messenger from God.

Thus Pesach started off on the right foot. Hashem was allowing me to see that I, who had grown cynical about the beauty of helping others, was again able to reach out and touch someone. What a beautiful present.

And on Pesach itself, I was able to continue easing people’s pain. My husband and I visited friends who were struggling spiritually. They were questioning basic tenets of Jewish faith. We were able to say a few things to them that hopefully served as food for thought, leading them in the right direction.

We also came into contact with an elderly frum woman who had complications in dealings with close family and friends. She was tired from preparing for Pesach and bemoaned the fact that they did not truly appreciate her hard work. We made her laugh and helped her to just enjoy the beautiful weather, good food and zemiros that, Baruch Hashem, this holiday was filled with. Watching her unwind and become able to see positive results from her pre-Pesach exertions was miraculous indeed. Prior to Pesach I heard a beautiful, positive thought from a rabbi, on a radio program. He said that Pesach is a time of nissim geluyim (open miracles). Purim was all about hidden miracles, as yad Hashem was revealed through what appeared to be coincidences. Pesach, though, is a holiday of holy days since Hashem saved us with open miracles – the Ten Plagues, the Splitting of the Sea, etc. Therefore, this rabbi continued, we need to recognize that this holiday (and, as I later learned, the entire month of Nissan) is a time when the very thing that one believes to be impossible can often come true – through prayer. There is a spiritual energy during these holy days and we would be remiss not to avail ourselves of this spiritual uplifting. Here’s how I think of it: Hashem built into these auspicious days proverbial treasure chests full of pearls, diamonds, emeralds, gold and silver that are ours for the taking. It would be silly not to partake in this opportunity.

I did not know of this phenomenon until this year; perhaps there are others who also did not know of this. But I want them to know that I made sure to pray for everyone, and I am sure that what klal Yisrael may have believed was beyond possible may indeed happen.

Acting Respectfully Always Pays Off

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:
Although I agree with your advice to A Passive Reader (Showing Respect Gets Results, 4-20) about how to deal with difficult people, I emphatically disagree with your decision to take the blame for the impatient frum guy who was honking his horn. If you saw him run someone over with his car, would you take the blame for that too? If you had gotten a ticket, would you have paid it? If the officer had arrested you, would you have gone to jail? I am not a rabbi, but I would be surprised if not informing means taking the blame as well.

Meanwhile, the “young, impatient frum guy” sat there and let you take the heat for him. He may be frum, but he’s no tzaddik. In fact, he is a coward and should be ashamed of himself.

The simplest thing would have been to say to the officer, “It wasn’t me. Check other cars.” The officer must have been pretty ignorant himself not to see that someone else was blowing the horn.

Massering is very problematic, and sometimes it is used to protect people who have done terrible things. At best the guy honking the horn committed a nuisance act and not a crime, but for you to take the blame and the heat was plainly wrong. Best wishes, A Reader

Dear Reader:
Thank you for sharing your interesting thought, but you missed the point of my response. I am not advocating that people take responsibility for things they did not do. My point was how one should deal diplomatically in a difficult situation, so that an angry or argumentative person can be dealt with in a manner that mitigates the situation.

I received many responses regarding this column, including two amazing stories from people who found themselves in similar situations. Both stories are about people who committed driving errors and deserved to be ticketed, but were saved from getting tickets due to the way they handled the situation.

Although my intention is not to instruct people on ways to avoid getting tickets from the police when they are in fact guilty of a driving misdemeanor, I will share these stories so that people will learn that you get further in life – and become more productive – by speaking in a respectful and honest manner than by screaming or being disrespectful. Both stories are about the issue of ticket avoidance.

Story #1: One of my husband’s physician colleagues was driving slightly over the speed limit in a carpool lane on a Sunday when he was pulled over. He was late to his grandchild’s birthday party, having been delayed due to attending to patients’ needs in the hospital. When pulled over, he thought about how to handle the situation in a way whereby he would not be ticketed (which could have meant points on his license). He also wanted to ensure that he would not cause a chillul Hashem.

He decided that the best course of action would be that of respectfulness and honesty. He thus told the police officer the truth, speaking respectfully to him and explaining that he did not know that he was not allowed to use the carpool lane on Sundays. He also acknowledged that he knew that he was driving slightly over the speed limit, but that he felt the need to rush to his granddaughter’s birthday party to which he was late. He told the officer that he had gotten stuck all morning in the hospital treating patients. The officer, seemingly impressed with his honesty and respectful tone, responded, “Okay, doctor, be careful and do not do this again.” He then let my husband’s colleague go on his way.

I believe that what prompted the officer not to issue the doctor a ticket was the fact that the doctor spoke respectfully to him. He addressed him as “officer,” said “yes, sir” in a nice tone, and imparted the truth. His actions made the policeman feel that he was being treated with deference. The lesson: In many situations we can persuade people to be more lenient toward us by treating them with respect. This makes them feel that they are worthy of our respect.

Story #2: My friend was driving her son to his friend’s house for the purpose of getting a ride to his yeshiva dorm. It was around midnight and the streets were quiet and desolate. Being tired, she did not notice the red light on a side street and drove through it – and was suddenly pulled over by a police officer.

The officer took down her license information (she had no violations), saw a teenaged boy and luggage in her minivan, and noticed how tired and overworked she seemed. My friend apologized to the officer, saying that she did not see a light on the small street. She said that she stopped as if for a stop sign, and then made a right turn. She emphasized the point that she was a careful driver and would never purposely pass a red light. As she was very courteous, the officer told her to go home, saying, “You look overtired and overworked. Be careful.”

Getting Your Children To Sleep

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am having a very difficult time putting my children to sleep at night. My four-year-old son constantly barges out of his room after he has been put to bed. This usually goes on for about an hour – no matter how many times I put him back in bed or threaten to punish him. I also have an eight- year-old who is afraid of bedtime because she can’t sleep. As a result, she sometimes stays awake until midnight just lying in bed. Other times she will wake up during the night and stay up for hours. I have shared pleasant thoughts with her, trying to help her relax – but it doesn’t seem to help.

My marriage has become extremely tense because I am spending all my time with my children instead of with my husband. How can I get my children into bed so I can spend more time working on my marriage?

Y.Z.

Dear Y.Z.:

Your sleep issue, while obviously very frustrating, is not unique. Many children have a difficult time going to sleep. When children go to sleep they view it as a separation from their parents, which can make them feel extremely uncomfortable. – which causes them stress. Some children even feel they are missing something fun and exciting if they go to sleep. And then there are the children who are afraid to go sleep because they think they might not wake up.

It’s possible that you are putting your son to sleep too early. If he goes to sleep an hour later and wakes up in the morning on his own, the amount of sleep he’s getting may be sufficient for him. If putting him to bed an hour later is too problematic for you, then give him the privilege of staying up for an extra hour, as long as he plays quietly in his room. When the hour is up you can go into his room to tuck him in. It is also very important to have a sleep routine. How do you put your son to bed? Do you read him stories, speak to him in a loving way, listen to his stories about his day, or engage him in a pleasant conversation? The time before a child goes to sleep is precious and should be used wisely. Children will often tell you anything and everything in order to steal a few minutes. Since children generally have such a strong desire to stay up “for just a few more minutes,” this is the best time to foster and enhance your relationship with them.

A bedtime routine whereby your son bathes, brushes his teeth, says Shema, and spends some time with you or your spouse (either in storytelling or pleasant talk) before he goes to sleep can help him know what to expect. This kind of consistency often helps make bedtime easier. This can also help your son separate from you without feeling anxious. Even though it is very tempting to threaten your son with punishment when he continuously comes out of bed, try to avoid this. It may be helpful for you to record a tape for him to hear, expressing your love for him and extolling his virtues. Your son can play the tape in his room after you leave, so that his separation from you is easier to handle. I would also recommend storytelling tapes. Children will often fall asleep much more easily when they are listening to a story before they go to bed.

As for your daughter, she appears to have a more serious problem. First, make sure that you are not allowing her to have any caffeine. Some individuals are more sensitive to caffeine and any amount of it can cause sleeping difficulties. If caffeine is not an issue, you should investigate whether your daughter is afraid of something related to bedtime, i.e. going to sleep. If something is troubling her, perhaps talking about it in a reassuring way will help her sleep better.

Even though your daughter is already eight years old, she also needs a bedtime routine – whereby you give her love and attention. Children are never too old to need special time with you. Even teenagers, who have a loving and communicative relationship with their parents, love to talk to Mom and Dad before they go to bed.

A child’s worst fears frequently emerge right before they go to sleep, possibly causing them immense difficulty in falling asleep. If you talk to your daughter before she goes to sleep about what is bothering her, you might uncover the root of her problem. If this doesn’t work I suggest that you seek professional help, since she may be phobic about sleeping and may have something deeper bothering her that must be addressed.

Showing Respect Gets Results

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler: At the recent wedding of my best friend’s son, I arrived for the chuppah early so as to secure a seat close to the front and by the aisle. I didn’t want to miss anything.

The room quickly filled up and soon there were no seats available. Suddenly, a woman walked in and placed a chair in the aisle, right in front of me and sat there, blocking my view. I knew she was the type of person who might start yelling at me if I said anything to her and, as this would cause a commotion, I decided to remain quiet. I definitely did not want to create a scene. I wasn’t the only person being affected. Another close friend of the chosson’s mother was sitting next to me and this woman blocked her view as well.

This friend quietly approached the woman, whispered something in her ear, and the woman immediately left her seat. I asked my friend what she had said and was astounded by the eloquent way she handled someone who was clearly demonstrating chutzpah.

In a quiet and respectful manner, she told that woman that the position she was sitting in would probably block the photographer from snapping proper pictures. She said it in a quiet and respectful tone.

I was very impressed with her answer. Dr. Yael, please address the issue of how we can help people who behave inappropriately change their action without creating an argumentative situation. As I usually opt to remain quiet while seething inside, any helpful advice would be appreciated. A Passive Reader

Dear Passive Reader: Thank you for raising this matter. I will try to give you some ideas as to how to put the technique you’ve lauded into action. I agree that your friend handled herself appropriately and astutely.

People who behave inappropriately generally have low self-esteem and do not respond kindly to criticism. Your friend seems to have learned how to make people feel at ease, treating them in a non-threatening way. The statement to the woman obstructing both of your views, that perhaps the photographer would not be able to take appropriate pictures, was not a criticism or negative statement but rather a non-threatening observation, which allowed the other woman to move without feeling defensive or disparaged. Furthermore by showing the other woman respect, she allowed her to feel at ease.

Recently I was stuck in a traffic jam on a side street in Brooklyn. I was blocked off due to a problem ahead of me and there were several police officers monitoring the situation. Seeing that I could not proceed, I just sat back and relaxed. Next to me was a young, impatient frum guy who started honking his horn. I did not quite get why he was honking, as clearly nothing was moving because something was going on.

A young police officer strutted over to me and started screaming. I pulled down my window and he said in a loud, irate tone, “Lady, why are you honking? Don’t you see there is a problem?” I knew that I had not honked; it was the frum guy next to me who did. Quickly assessing my situation, I realized that I could not tell the cop that I did not honk, since saying that would mean I was massering (informing) on him. I also hoped that with my knowledge of psychology, I would be more successful in dealing with the police officer. So I listened to the cop yelling at me and I apologized by saying, “I am so sorry, sir. You are right to be upset. You protect our city, so please accept my apology.” This did not appease the young police officer, who seemed to enjoy yelling at me. He continued to yell, and when I thought he was finished I started to roll up the window.

But he kept yelling, trying to put me in my place. I rolled down the window and listened politely until he felt satisfied that he had yelled enough. Baruch Hashem, he did not issue me a ticket for honking inappropriately. And all the while the young frum guy gazed at what was happening, knowing that he was the culprit and appreciating the fact that I was taking the blame for his misdeed. With the police officer gone from the scene, the problem was resolved five minutes later and it was full steam ahead.

In my story, I attempted to accord the police officer extreme respect. Likewise, in your story, your friend demonstrated respect to the other woman. Had she said loudly and disrespectfully, “Don’t you know that the way you are sitting will interfere with the photographer?” I am not sure that the results would have been as effective as they turned out to be. By exerting effort to demonstrate respect, she validated the other woman’s ego.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/showing-respect-gets-results/2012/04/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: