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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Happy’

When A Bully Becomes A Tzaddik

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Note to readers: In the spirit of Chanukah, here’s a letter representing a personal miracle.

Dear Dr. Yael:

After reading your columns about bullying, I wanted to share with you a wonderful story about how our son went from being a bully to becoming a tzaddik.

At age two our son was a cute, chubby little kid who was sometimes teased by other children. So even at two, he would bully the teasers in order to get what he wanted, and would do anything to get his way. Instead of the adults in his life understanding that he was having a challenging time due to the teasing about his weight, and was therefore responding by bullying those who bothered him, the teachers would hit him, thinking that this would teach him how it feels to be hit and thus prevent him from hitting others. But being hit or punished by his teachers made him even angrier, as he lost respect for the adults and thought that he had the right to do whatever he wanted.

As he grew older he respected his rebbeim less. For example, if the rebbe would take away his watch he would scream at the rebbe in front of the entire class. “That is not yours, and you have no right to take it away.” As a result the situation spiraled downward. He was punished more often, became disconnected from authority, and stopped caring about other people’s feelings. This led him to become a bully. He knew how to learn, making him an excellent talmid. To some extent, this secured his self-esteem. Additionally, as loving parents, we built his confidence. So he had self-respect – but did not respect his peers. For example, when he was about nine, a number of boys were playing in the yeshiva’s backyard. When the ball they were playing with landed on the roof, he grabbed somebody else’s shoe and threw it on the roof. When the mashgiach asked him why he did that, he answered, “What is the difference between a ball and a shoe?” In other words, if you are not angry about the ball going on the roof, why are you angry about the shoe? However, he had done this to hurt the boy, because he had been left out of the game.

At the time, our son did not really comprehend the difference between a ball and a shoe. He claimed that his action was not meant to hurt the other boy, but rather to have fun and get extra attention. We choose to take him for anger management therapy. The biggest positive result of this therapy was that he learned the importance of respecting authority, and who is in charge in life.

Once he understood the importance of respecting authority, he began to listen more appropriately to his rebbeim, teachers and the menahel. He realized that ultimately, they are seeking to help him succeed in life. And as he began to succeed in his learning and in his respect for authority, he channeled his feelings toward helping others. He began trying to aid his chavrusahs in their learning, in the long run gaining their respect the proper way. In due course, as he became more caring and helpful to others, he totally stopped bullying and became a caring person and a true middos-driven tzaddik.

His new and improved behavior shocked the menahel and rebbeim in the yeshiva and this dramatic change, garnered him the respect of his peers and of the yeshiva’s authority figures. His peers come to him for help, and in addition to augmenting his self-confidence it leads him to be the tzaddik he is.

Despite how things had been, we had continuously worked on building his self-esteem, because we believed in him. This was the magic tool in changing our son from a bully to a tzaddik. Our goal in sharing this story with your readers is to help the parents of children who use bully tactics when they feel badly about themselves. We believe that by seeking proper help and offering our constant understanding and support to our son, we helped him develop the tools to change from being a bully to becoming a caring and giving human being.

We are so proud to be his parents, as he continues to grow in his learning and practice of middos as a teenager. We believe that with proper help and positive reinforcement one can turn around their children’s lives. We hope our story helps other parents who face these kinds of challenges with their children.

Happy, Loving Parents

Dear Happy, Loving Parents:

Thank you for sharing your story with my readers. You inspire others to rise to the challenges of raising children who are sometimes difficult. It is the consistent love and constant reassurance that you gave your son that enabled him to change from being a bully to becoming a tzaddik. You continued to believe in his ability to change, and you sought proper help in dealing with his anger issues. And you also continued to love him unconditionally. By constantly building his self-esteem, he was allowed to dramatically change his middos.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 4/24/09

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Dear Rachel,

When I was 21, I was desperate to get married. I saw marriage to a “good catch” as the ultimate accomplishment of a woman, a sign that I had “made it” (much like a man who has attained a six-figure salary) and proof that I was desirable, stable and feminine. I saw all other achievements besides marriage as secondary and firmly believed that without a husband and children I would never be truly alive. I saw all married couples as uplifted beings that inhabited this glowing, brilliant, exciting and tempting reality, who were “really living.” After all, I reasoned, why else would they bother to get married?

And so I met the man whom I believed to be my “perfect catch.” Chaim was handsome and dashing, professionally successful, sweet and charming, learned in Torah and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. I was blown away. Convinced that I had found the best deal out there – after an entire two years of dating, I was willing to overlook anything I could possibly make excuses for. Of what significance were his playboy past and constant demands – “Send me emails! Send me pictures! Wear this/that!” – when weighed against this fragile chance at eternal bliss?

Time went by and Chaim strung me along, making up all sorts of excuses to avoid dates with me while continuing to make his demands. He even insisted once that I spend 30 dollars on a device that would allow us to go on “virtual dates!”

I pretended not to hear this last request, and kept up the hope that one day he would take an interest in dating me seriously. After all, his excuses seemed pretty valid – his parents were in the hospital; he had arranged to visit Israel for a month before he even knew me and had just returned and had a mountain of work to catch up on; and so on, and so forth.

I later found out that he was seeing other women behind my back, but hey, he had made it clear that we were only dating and had no formal relationship, so he wasn’t being dishonest, was he?

I eventually realized that this was not good for me and tried to end it several times – and failed. Because when you are that invested in getting married, common sense does little to counteract the overwhelming need to have “made it.” It does little in the face of the intoxicating fantasies of how wonderful things will be once you FINALLY tie the knot, and the mantra of “no pain, no gain.” But as fate would have it, he broke up with me.

I was devastated. I finished the sefer tehillim no less than ten times, praying primarily to stop feeling pain. For a good year after that, I kept hoping and hoping that one day he would return to “settle” for me. And lo and behold, he did. And you know what? I DUMPED HIM! The time we had spent apart had awakened me to the realization that perhaps it was unwise to spend my life focused on the one thing I didn’t have – a husband. Instead, I embraced the idea that singlehood could be fulfilling and that career, hobbies, chessed, social life and time to oneself can fill one’s time quite pleasurably. From this healthy new standpoint, I was finally able to see Chaim for who he was: a complete taker. Better to be single than to put up with that.

I still see women making the same mistake I did, and in enormous numbers. Society constantly derides women who are too comfortable in their singlehood, postulating that if only they were more “serious” about getting married, perhaps they would have been married by now. The burgeoning incidence of singlehood past the age of 25 is even described as a “crisis.”

All this does is encourage situations like the one I was in, where people find themselves willing to pay any price to make it past that coveted finish line, convinced that something so stressed by society must truly be that essential. I even spoke with a 24-year-old girl who told me that she dates everyone who will go out with her. “Better to date anyone than to sit by and do nothing while the clock ticks,” she said.

Happy and Single

Dear Happy,

Good thing that Chaim was not marriage minded and that you had a chance to sober up before he came knocking on your door the second time. Being a “complete taker” was not Chaim’s only vice. And it seems that at the tender age of 21, you wanted desperately to get married for all the wrong reasons. To you, marriage meant attaining a status symbol. Instead of focusing on building a life together with the one whom you would share common values and goals with, you entertained “intoxicating fantasies” of things to follow once that knot was tied.

Most young people harbor dreams (achievable) and some have fantasies (unrealizable), yet they get lucky. They meet the right person whom they were meant to spend their life with and things more or less work out.

You don’t say how many years have elapsed since your unpalatable escapade, but by this time age and experience should have matured you enough to recognize the difference between a bum and a responsible, serious-minded fellow.

While one should certainly make the best of his/her single years, by no means should that mean giving up hope of meeting Mr. Right. Being single and 25 is not a “crisis” – it is an ideal time to be on the lookout for one’s meant-to-be. Be discerning (within reason), but don’t give up on your dream of finding your zivug. And keep on saying that tehillim – it will benefit you in many ways.

Thanks for sounding that “Stop The Panic” button; many, as you point out, need to hear it.

Wishing you much hatzlacha in encountering the real thing!

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/10/06

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

* * * * *

Readers React To ‘A Disappointed Husband’ (Chronicles 9-29) (Part 1)

Dear Rachel,

I was very surprised when I read your answer to the husband who is turned off by the way his wife looks. I am a married woman with two children, and while I know it’s easier than caring for five children, I take care of myself and expect my husband to take care of himself too. “Disappointed” is not asking for her to look like a supermodel, but to at least lose some weight and put herself together. Every Shalom Bayis class that I have ever attended has discussed the need for both the husband and wife to maintain themselves and look good for their spouse. The fact that she is in the same snood and robe every day shows a lack of caring for her husband.

I work outside the home full time and never put on a robe when I get home. On Friday night I always get dressed to honor the Shabbos and my husband. How hard is it to put on a nice shirt and skirt as opposed to a robe to put yourself together for your husband? By the same token my husband puts himself together and makes sure to keep his weight in check.

While men should not be looking at other women, the fact is that he does work in the business world and will see well-dressed, pretty women. Her children are not babies (he mentioned they are of camp age), and therefore the baby weight excuse is long gone. Taking care of oneself is the Torah way. She should make it a priority to cook healthy meals and to make regular exercise a part of her life. There are many ways to work in some exercise without expensive gym memberships. I go bike riding with my kids, take walks around the neighborhood with friends and work out to videos right in my own home. All it takes is 30 minutes, three or four times a week to make a change in her life. I am sure that her husband would watch the kids for a half hour while she exercised.

I am married for over 17 years, and my husband is still very attracted to me and does not have the need to look elsewhere. He has what he needs right at home.

Boruch Hashem, happily married

Dear Happy,

Good for you! You obviously have what it takes to keep yourself (and your marital union) in top form. As life would have it, however, different circumstances call for different strategies. (Read the letter that follows)

In truth, we have really no way of knowing what transpired between Disappointed Husband and his wife all this time. An ongoing lack of attention/communication, for instance, may have contributed to their current unfortunate situation.

What is certain is that both man and woman have an obligation to take care of themselves, and that husband and wife are to have a genuine concern for one another. (When a woman feels loved and appreciated by her man, she will more likely take steps to please him.)

Past columns have addressed the need for wives to look after themselves (i.e., Chronicle of 8-4). Even the response you refer to alludes to a wife’s responsibility in self-maintenance. To quote from my reply, “By neglecting to maintain an attractive appearance for her husband, she runs the risk of having him drift away, mentally (if not physically as well).”

Let us all exert every effort to motivate our partners to feel and look their best – and suppress the inclination to sit in judgment of another in whose shoes we have not walked.

P.S. A becoming Shabbos/YomTov robe can be as fitting to the occasion as a “nice shirt and skirt.” It is but a matter of personal preference and comfort.

Dear Rachel,

I would like to add a few points to the letter by a Disappointed Husband (Chronicle 9-29), which I think you answered well. I am a fat woman – obese through no fault of my own (medical problems). However, we did go through a very difficult time accepting it. We revamped our marriage by doing our utmost to respect one another. I have limited ability to do household chores. My husband helps out and does so gladly because I try to keep him happy.

If all you care about is having a body for a wife, I pity you. Look how long it took you to realize that your wife, as you say, is neglecting herself. Where were you before you went on holiday? Have you not been neglecting her?

Do one thing and say one thing every day to make your wife feel good. She will be surprised to begin with, but I am sure she will begin to try and reciprocate.

Suggestion: Try to obtain Rebbetzin Braunstein’s tapes on Shalom Bayis.

Good Luck in the New Year

Dear Good,

You have taken your G-d-given challenge and have met it head on with fortitude and intelligence. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and wishful thinking, you have zeroed in on the real test of true love: appreciating and treasuring the beauty within. May you and your husband grow old together and continue to focus on the good things in life conferred upon you by the Ribono Shel Olam.

Thank you both for your wonderful tips and pointers in how to improve the quality of married life.

Confidential to Besta Shvesta: May you continue your long-standing tradition of dressing your best in honor of Shabbos to please your husband (while exercising your good-natured tolerance for the robe wearers who grace your table) – for many more years to come. Happy Birthday!!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-41/2006/11/08/

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