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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Money And Parenting: Why Money Is Your Children’s Business

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Why is that person asking us for money at the red light?
Shouldn’t we give our second home to someone who doesn’t have one?
Why don’t we have a second home?
Do you make less money than Daddy?
Are we poor?
Are people without nice clothes lazy?
Will we run out of money now that you have no job?

 

These questions and others were posted on The New York Times website by parents, and answered by Ron Leiber the author of the newspaper’s “Your Money” column. As Leiber points out his bestselling book The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, children often asks us these questions and we tell them that it’s none of their business.

Leiber disagrees: “We push our children’s money questions aside, sometimes telling them that their queries are impolite, or perhaps worrying that they will call out our own financial hypocrisy and errors. Sometimes we respond defensively and viscerally, barking back, ‘None of your business,’ unintentionally teaching our children that the topic is off limits despite its obvious importance. Others want to protect their children from a topic many of us find stressful or baffling: Can’t we keep them innocent of all of this money stuff for just a little bit longer? But shielding children from the realities of everyday financial life makes little sense anymore, given the responsibilities their generation will face…”

In reality, Leiber says, we do our children a disservice by not sharing our finances with them. They do not learn how to spend, save, or give to other people because we have not shared with them our methods and thoughts about these processes. Instead of shielding them from money issues, we force them into ignorance that will ultimately harm them later in life. Psychologist Madeline Levine argues a similar point in her book Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or “Fat Envelopes.” Levine says a society that is focused on chasing success (often financial) leads to children who lack self-esteem and experience themselves as failures.

This is of course the opposite of what the modern parenting movement is after – we want to raise happy, grounded, resilient children. And, according to Leiber and Levine, having open conversations about money is part of that parenting technique. Leiber suggests six steps for changing the conversations we have with children about money.

Give your children an allowance and ensure that they have a regular place to put it (a wallet, jar, or bank account are all fine). The amount of the allowance does not matter much. However, what is crucial is that the money is divided into three categories: Spend, Save, and Give. As grown-ups, we think about our money in this way, so it’s important to begin the conversation with our children. Explain to your child what percentage you spend on things the family needs (or wants), how much you save for the future, and how much you give to tzedakah. Your child can decide what percentage he or she would like to give, but making a decision and sticking to it is the first part of financial intelligence.

Family conversations. Don’t shut children out; tell them how you make financial decisions so that they can learn about tradeoffs. Maybe you just did a renovation, so that means you won’t be taking a vacation this year. Or, maybe the afterschool activity they are doing means that they have to choose a different summer camp to attend. Your income and expenses affect them and they can learn from being part of the conversation.

Draw a line between wants and needs. Explain why certain things are wants in your family, but might be needs in another and vice versa. This can help your children (and you) define exactly what things are most important to you.

Keep track of the spend, save, give tallies and have discussions after about how they feel. Maybe they wish they had spent less or maybe they were really happy with giving, but would prefer a different tzedakah next time. These conversations keep them accountable and teach them about smart spending.

Find someone you admire in terms of his or her spending, saving, and giving. Talk to him or her about the decisions he or she makes. How does he or she keep emotions in check around financial matters?

Don’t shy away from financial conversations in the future (but obviously keep the anxiety out of the conversation). In fact, keep the dialogue going in your household. In the long-term, your children will be better prepared for their financial futures.

On her end, Levine suggests a slightly different course. “There comes a point in parenting,” she writes, “where we must decide whether to maintain the status quo or, armed with new information, choose a different course. There is little question that our children are living in a world that is not simply oblivious to their needs, but is actually damaging them.” What Levine argues for is a reevaluation of our parenting techniques, ones that are not solely focused on success and finances, but are instead focused on empathy and self-esteem. Perhaps Leiber and Levine can work hand-in-hand, we can build empathy and self-esteem through transparency about our own successes and failures. Leiber would argue that we should start that conversation right now.

Rifka Schonfeld

Knesset to Vote on Paternity Leave

Monday, June 20th, 2016

The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Monday unanimously approved for its second and third readings at the Knesset plenum a bill presented by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) making Israeli fathers eligible for five days of paternity leave after their spouse has given birth.

The leave, to run parallel to the leave granted mothers, will consist of three vacation days and two additional days on the account of the father’s sick-pay allocation—this in addition to the father’s permitted absence on the day the baby is born.

Since May 1998, fathers have been allowed to take paternity leave instead of — rather than in addition to — their wives, as well as one day of leave when the baby is born and a second day for the circumcision ceremony if the baby is a boy.

“This is nothing less than an historic achievement,” Zandberg said. “For the first time, a father will have the legal right to be at home during the first days after the birth, and this is the first time the term ‘paternity leave’ will enter the book of laws in Israel.”

“A birth is a family event which does not belong to the mother alone,” Zandberg continued. “The proposed bill was born of necessity — out of employers’ lack of support for their workers.”

Zandberg thanked Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) for his support in advancing the legislation.

Labor Committee Chairman MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu) said, “This is a real improvement. Families should be together during these important moments.” Elalouf added that he would promote legislation that would enable the 270,000 self-employed Israelis to also take paternity leave.

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) said, “This is the beginning of a significant revolution. I stayed at home for three months with each of my children after they were born, and I enjoyed it very much.”

JNi.Media

Wisdom in Parenting

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

In his introduction to Mesilas Yesharim, the Ramchal writes about a phenomenon he encountered in his time:

“[The reason that] wise and reflective people do not spend time studying this material [that is found in the sefer] is because these ideas are so well known and obvious, that it does not seem necessary to expend a lot of time investing in their study.”

Most of us instinctively know what good parenting looks like. We do not need another lecture on roles, boundaries and the purposes of parenting our children. And yet…

Why are so many children, including our own, so unmannered and undisciplined? We are not unmannered and undisciplined.

The more we try to make them happy the more demanding and obnoxious they become. We don’t remember acting this way towards our parents.

We know that we should have expectations of our children, and we do. Why do they react angrily when we convey our expectations to them? Why are they so oppositional and defiant? We were not this way as children.

It would seem that there is a gap between what we know and what we do. How shall we bridge this?

Parents are Authority Figures Obvious, isn’t it? However, many of us are very uncomfortable with authority. Democratic societies seek to dilute the notion of absolute authority and we have unconsciously taken this in. We become confused about exercising our parental authority. Some of us feel “mean” when we need to assert our primacy.

Authority is not control or aggression. It is the calm certainty that I am the adult here and you are the child and I know better than you. I will listen to your complaints because they tell me what it is you feel you need, but the final decision about what they mean or how I respond is mine. Furthermore I have the calm expectation that you will speak to me respectfully.

We are the Adults As adults we have a responsibility to be clear as to what the parenting task is meant to accomplish. Our job as parents is to insure that our children have good character, in the words of Dr. Chaim Ginott, that we raise them to be humane and strong. As Torah Jews we are guided in this task by the Torah. To accomplish our task we must first ask ourselves the following questions.

A. What does being a Torah Jew mean to me?

For the father: how will I convey this to my sons? To my daughters?

For the mother: what kind of home atmosphere do I want to have? How do I accomplish this?

These are questions that require a lot of thought.

It is not our job to: 1. Ensure that our child is happy (whatever that means). 2. Placate our children in order to get them off our backs.

Doing these things is antithetical to raising a child of good character. A child’s desires are endless. What he wants and what he needs are two very different things, and it is our job to teach him the difference. Placating children gives them too much power. When we find ourselves placating our children, they are in control of us. It makes them anxious, and they will often respond in an obnoxious way, begging us to set limits and take our authority back.

B. How do we help them grow?

This too takes a lot of thought. Every challenge that our children throw our way is an opportunity to teach them something. This is hard to do because: 1. It demands that we consider each situation from the child’s point of view and ask: What do I want him or her to learn? How shall I convey this? 2. We are not teachers, we are parents, and everything we give, we want to give over with warmth and love. How to do that is not always obvious. It requires patience and thought.

Chana Mark

An American Tragedy in Steubenville

Monday, March 18th, 2013

A significant number of American values failures came together to create the tragedy in Stuebenville, where two teenage High School football stars, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl.

Foremost among them is the American tragedy of sexualizing teen girls at an age where they are not yet women. Madonna sexualized herself in her mid twenties. Brittney Spears brought the age down to about eighteen. Not young enough for you? Miley Cyrus reduced it further to sixteen. One wonders when our culture will feel that even sixteen is not a young enough age to sexually exploit girls.

Then there is the issue of sports as an emerging religion where those gifted to be athletes feel a sense of entitlement that often has them crossing lines to their own detriment. The idea that two High School football stars would think it acceptable to post pictures of a nude sixteen year old to their friends on social media shows how they thought the normal rules did not apply them. And this would be true even if there weren’t the far more serious conviction on rape. How sad that two young men have ruined their lives and done so much damage to a defenseless victim.

Next is the growing culture of alcohol abuse by minors. Alcohol played a central role in this unfolding tragedy with the essential argument on the part of the prosecution that the girl in question was so drunk there was no possible way she could give consent. One wonders why our youth are so inclined to heavy drink. Is it mere experimentation or is something deeper at work? Are they already, at so young an age, as unhappy as adults who have been battered by life and are therefore drinking negative emotions away? After all, no one in America really portrays the teen years as a bowl of cherries.

I passed my later teen years in an all-male environment in Yeshiva where the focus of my life was study. I certainly was a lot happier than the co-ed environment in which I was immersed in my early teen years where peer pressure, popularity among the girls, and a general self-consciousness made my life less enjoyable than it should have been.

Then there is the general tragedy of the absence of responsible parenting in America. The biggest question for me in this heartrending story was where were the parents? Where were they when the three teens left one party at 12:30 am to go to another? Where were they to monitor extreme drunkenness on the part of people not old enough to vote?

Many African-American young men are not raised with a father’s guiding hand. I was astonished, therefore, at the honesty displayed by Malik Richmond’s father, Nathaniel, when he said in a CNN interview that he had walked over to his son right after the guilty verdict and told him he loved him, essentially for the very first time. “I haven’t been involved in Malik’s life like I should have been at those early years. And I want to stress that parents should be more involved in their child’s life… be a parent and not a friend.”

No one is better qualified to address this issue than President Obama who also grew up without his father and is by all accounts a very loving and involved parent himself. The President has addressed the subject only lightly, but it’s time that he make this an all-out campaign.

But the greatest tragedy made manifest in Steubenville is the attitude of teenage men toward girls. Immanuel Kant wrote that the definition of immorality is treating a fellow human being as a means rather than an end. The abomination of American slavery was that a white child was taught to see a black child as a walking bale of cotton. Slavery trained a white man to see a black woman as lacking the same spark of the divine that lent him his humanity. When he looked upon the woman, she was stripped of her own dreams, her own opinions, her own aspirations. She was nothing but an extension of the white slave owner’s drives and ambitions. Like a third arm she existed to simply to do his chores.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

The Whole-Brain Child: An Effective Approach To Parenting

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Your toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of a store. Your preschooler refuses to get dressed. Your fifth-grader sulks on the bench instead of playing on the field. Do children conspire to make their parents’ lives endlessly challenging? No – it’s just their developing brain calling the shots!

(The Whole Brain Child, Daniel J. Seigel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD)

I have often been talking about parenting the “explosive child” or a child who struggles with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). In that context, I often mention Dr. Ross Greene’s groundbreaking work on using “Plan B.” However, recently, another approach has been gaining popularity. It is from Daniel J. Siegel, MD and is often used to promote “the whole-brain child.”

The strategies Seigel suggests are not just for explosive children, but everyday parenting struggles. Seigel explains that parents are often experts about their children’s bodies. They know how much temperature is considered a fever, the correct dosage of Tylenol, how to clean a cut and bandage it, and which foods they are allergic to. Interestingly, he points out that even educated and concerned parents know very little about how the mechanics of the brain work. Yet, the biology of the brain is responsible for so much of what parents care about: discipline, decision-making, self-awareness, school, relationships and self-esteem.

The more we know about how our children’s brains work, the better we will be able nurture stronger, more resilient children. Not only that, but it can make parenting easier and more meaningful. The goal of this article is to give you a taste of how Seigel’s “whole brain perspective” can be applied to everyday parenting moments. This is not a manual that will eliminate all the stress involved in parenting, however, it should help explain and tackle some often-inexplicable occurrences.

Integration

The main concept behind the whole-brain child is integration – creating connections between different parts of the brain. When the different parts of the brain collaborate, they create more robust connections. The better and more powerfully connected, or integrated, the different parts of the brain, the more harmoniously those parts can work together.

So, how can you recognize when your child’s brain (or your brain) is in a state of integration? Seigel explains that integration is like floating in the middle of a river – and avoiding the river’s two banks. One side, he explains is the bank of chaos, where you feel out of control. “Instead of floating in the peaceful river, you are caught up in the pull of the tumultuous rapids, and confusion and turmoil rule the day.” On the other bank of the river lies rigidity. As opposed to being out of control, you are “imposing control on everything and everyone around you.” You are unwilling to compromise or adapt.

We all move back and forth between chaos and rigidity throughout the day. When we are farthest from the middle of the river, we are also farthest from mental and emotional health. The better we are at avoiding the extremes, the more time we spend in “the river of well-being.”

Our children float along their own “rivers” and when we are in situations in which they lose their tempers or throw tantrums, framing their behavior through this lens can help us understand how well-integrated the different parts of their brains are at that moment. With this knowledge, you can help guide your child back to the middle ground.

Right and Left Brain

Your right and left brain not only are anatomically separate, they function differently as well. Your left brain craves order as it is logical, literal, and linear. On the other hand, your right brain is creative and nonverbal, focusing on the big picture rather than the minutiae of a situation.

How can you make sure your child’s left brain and right brain work together? Seigel suggests two strategies:

Connect and Redirect: If your eight-year-old is throwing a fit because he can’t believe his birthday isn’t for another 8 months, chances are that he is experiencing a lot of right brain (emotional or illogical activity). Rather than responding to your child with logical questions, which he will not be able to hear because he is in the midst of a wave of emotional thinking, react to him with emotions. Hold him tight and tell him that you understand how frustrating that might be. Once he is able to calm down, then you help him work through the problem logically. In this way, you are connecting to him through his left brain (emotions) and redirecting his emotions through his right brain (logic). This will help him become better integrated in the future as well.

Rifka Schonfeld

Divorce and Its Real Life Challenges: A Community Call to Action

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

A mother and father living in accord and harmony is one of the best presents that can be granted to a child. Yet what happens when G-d’s natural design of child rearing becomes stripped away from a family? What happens when the notion of enjoying quality time with both parents together becomes non-existent? I am of course referring to the ramifications of divorce. Divorce eradicates the stability of a traditional family unit and invites the inherent difficulties of single parenting.

Single parenting is the divorcee’s proverbial Mount Everest. It is a harrowing peak through which one is expected to perspire and blunder. The obstacles of single parenthood manifest themselves in almost every parent-child interaction. These obstacles range from the significantly personal to the mundane. A “significantly personal” dilemma might be the single parent’s responsibility to address his/her child’s emotional state in wake of the divorce, while a “mundane” dilemma might include awkward situations such as a single father needing to take his young daughter to the restroom. In almost all regards, single parenthood can be distinctly challenging and lonesome.

Yet, not only is the divorcee confronted with the hardships of single parenthood, but also with the solitary road that divorce often paves. The divorcee is faced with a sense of isolation as his or her spouse becomes more of a memory than a reality. The Torah explicitly conveys the drawbacks of loneliness when it states: “It is not good for man to be alone.” Interestingly, the aforementioned pasuk is the only instance when the Torah states what is considered “not good” for man. Why is that so? Why does the Torah feel it is essential to specify that loneliness is a state of being that man should strongly resist? It is simply because loneliness breeds emotional fatigue and frigidity, and subsequently these negative sentiments can create a deep chasm of despair and hopelessness. When people are lonely, it is quite simple for them to slip into that chasm – yet very difficult for them to climb out. There is little else in the world that is worse than the pain of being alone.

In addition, when loneliness crawls into a person’s life, it can make daily vicissitudes and life-changing struggles seem even more unbearable. An individual who is fortunate to have a caring spouse has a greater chance of smoothing over life’s cracked edges. Having a dedicated and loving partner by one’s side can assuage the various frustrations of life. There are scientific studies that record a patient’s chance for survival (from cancer and other serious illnesses) based upon his or her relationship with a partner (or lack thereof). The results of these studies portray that those who had a strong spousal relationship had a greater chance of healing, while those who did not have a strong spousal bond had a lesser chance. The burden of a divorcee’s financial and parental responsibilities, as well as his or her emotional needs, can be particularly despondent paths to traverse alone.

Furthermore, Orthodox divorcees have the added test of maintaining a sense of stability and joy during Shabbat and the holidays. These are opportune times to rekindle familial unity and happiness, yet what does a divorcee do when he or she is faced with the prospect of solitude instead of companionship? Moreover, lack of family bonding does not only create desolation for divorcees, but also for their children. Children from an observant divorced home may become saddened by the break in traditional religious practices that were once associated with family connection. For example, when a son is by his mother for Shabbat, he may sorely miss his father’s Kiddush or walk to the synagogue, and when a daughter is by her father for Shabbat she may yearn for the special moment when she lights candles with her mother. Although Shabbat and the holidays can be potentially exciting, they are usually tinged with a distinct sense of loss for divorcees and their children.

Now that the Orthodox community is more cognizant of divorcees’ travails, what can it do to ease their transition between marriage and separation? How can the community ameliorate the divorcee’s adversities and console his or her pain? First and foremost, the Orthodox community should endeavor to embrace divorced members with warmth. Unfortunately, a divorcee’s solitude is only intensified when the community subtly castigates him or her by passing judgment (whether consciously or unconsciously). Once the community is able to develop a more accepting mindset, then it can fully open its hearts and homes to divorced individuals. A divorcee will truly appreciate it when a family willingly invites him or her to partake in Shabbat meals and holiday festivities. The loneliness will be diminished, and a sense of belonging can enter the picture once again.

Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky

Briefcases And Baby Bottles: The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Briefcases And Baby Bottles: The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home
(Feldheim; April 2012)
By Tzivia Reiter

Work-life balance has been in the media a lot lately. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who served as the first female Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, wrote a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic entitled “Women Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter writes about her struggle with balance—parenting and working, and the importance of being present, as well as the importance of absolute boundaries between work and parenting. As evidence—both of the compartmentalizing men are capable of and as an example of the type of behavior women should engage in more, Slaughter writes about Orthodox men she has worked with: “Come Friday at sundown, they were unavailable because of the Jewish Shabbat.” Slaughter contrasts the absolute boundaries between work and Shabbat for these men and women who, even when home, mothering their children, are supposed to be on call for work. What Slaughter doesn’t consider, what I and many of my cohorts immediately thought of, I’m guessing, is the Orthodox working mother – she who has absolute work and Shabbat boundaries but also functions in a constant negotiation between work and child-rearing pressures. That, as they say, is not all. The Orthodox mother, working or not, is expected to be involved in her community, to host elaborate Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and volunteer in her children’s schools. Of course, as she is Orthodox, her family is probably also substantially larger than Slaughter’s two-child household.

A book that addresses the enormous pressures and pulls the Orthodox working mother feels is long overdue. Thus, Briefcases and Baby Bottles: the Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home, by social worker Tzivia Reiter, is a welcome addition to any library. The book is thorough and the author reassures again and again that everyone does it differently and that is okay, reflecting, correctly, I think, that one of the biggest enemies of the working mother is guilt. Validation is no small gift to the constantly self-doubting mother—especially one who believes that a good mother does not work outside of the home. One of the best aspects of the book is how Reiter positions herself not as an authority who will guide you down the road that she traveled so successfully, but as a fellow traveler herself, noting: “I did not write this book because I think I have all the answers. Rather, I wrote it because I think I understand the questions.” The book succeeds because of Reiter’s curiosity, her determination that being a working mother can work as well as her conviction that it will all be okay.

Brief-cases and Baby Bottles is not all assurances. The book is divided into chapters that address different aspects of the unique challenges of the Jewish working mother and offers suggestions, resources and strategies throughout. In a chapter entitled “Accentuate the positive,” for example, Reiter points out that children are extremely tuned into their parent’s moods. A happier mother means a happier child and Reiter offers suggestions to help lift the mother’s attitude about working, such as reflecting on how “your job adds value to your life.” While some mothers choose to work for personal fulfillment, others work out of financial necessity and most out of some combination of the two. Thus, it is important to embrace the positive aspects, like providing for your family, a concept Reiter suggests sharing with your children by pointing out that school, food and books cost money.

Chapters such as The Good Jewish Mother, Goodbye to Guilt, Accentuate the Positive, Mommy and Me, Marriage Matters, Partners in Care and Home Fires address issues in a down to earth, accessible way with suggestions and examples from those who have been in the trenches.

With all the pressures of children and work, marriage can seem like an added burden. An actively nurtured marriage is a happier one and a happier marriage leads to happier parents and, inevitably, happier children. Though it seems indirect and farfetched, it is anything but. My husband and I make time for ourselves without the children and omit the guilt simply by reminding ourselves that the children benefit from our healthy relationship. Reiter doesn’t offer the simplistic, magazine-style advice of having a monthly date night with your spouse. It is a particular strength that the book is largely void of one-size fits all solutions. Reiter offers several strategies such as dividing tasks between the spouses, preparing simpler weekday and holiday meals and simply sharing the joys and trials of raising a family with your spouse. My favorite strategy comes from Mindy, an actuary who writes,

Shoshana Batya Greenwald

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/briefcases-and-baby-bottles-the-working-mothers-guide-to-nurturing-a-jewish-home/2012/09/28/

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