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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shalom Task Force’

Toby’s Secret Dating

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Recently Ruth came to my office to talk about her fourteen-year-old daughter. Ruth comes from a mainstream orthodox family and has five children.  Her middle child, Toby, was in her sophomore year at a yeshiva high school for girls in the New York City area.

Ruth had just recently discovered (from another parent) that Toby had been secretly dating a boy for over a year. When she confronted Toby about her boyfriend, Toby had adamantly refused to admit that she was secretly seeing anyone. Ruth was extremely distraught to realize that her daughter would do something against her wishes and asked if I could help.

Since Toby was dating a boy against her parents’ will I was especially interested in understanding Toby’s relationship with her parents. Perhaps Toby’s inner desire for love and friendship was somehow unfulfilled and she was starting to look for love in all the wrong places.

The following is one of the conversations I had with Toby’s mother.

 

Daniel Schonbuch (DS): Could you tell me a little bit more about Toby’s relationships with you and your husband?

Ruth: Well, Toby and I don’t get along very well.  We do have some pleasant moments together – especially when she wants me to give her something like money – but most of the time we are fighting.  It’s impossible to get along with her.  Sometimes she makes me so angry I get a headache.

DS: It sounds rough.  What about your husband?  Are things better or worse with him?

Ruth: Her relationship with him is even worse. They barely talk to one another, and when they do they start yelling at each other.

DS: What are they fighting about?

Ruth: Almost everything.   He fights with her about the way she dresses. He doesn’t like her friends.  And he is very angry that Toby doesn’t join the family at Shabbos meals.

DS: Do you and your husband ever spend any time with her without fighting?

Ruth: Once in a while when we go out for dinner at restaurants, she seems to calm down with us.

DS: I guess she feels that you are treating her to something special.

Ruth: That is true.  When we go shopping together alone, things also seem to calm down slightly, as long as we are doing something out of the house.  But the minute we are home it seems to get worse. When my husband comes home it can be unbearable.

DS: Unbearable? Tell me more about your husband. What is he like with her?  When does he come home at night?

Ruth: My husband is another story.  He is very stressed out and is almost never home. He runs a business — a car dealership.

DS: It sounds like he is very busy.

Ruth: Yes, it’s terrible. Even on Shabbos he is so stressed out and withdrawn. When he comes home after shul, he makes kiddush, eats, and goes to sleep. The kids want to talk to him, but they see that he’s too irritable to deal with. I don’t want to push him too much. I’m worried he’ll explode.

DS: How about Toby? Does she get to spend any time talking to her father?

Ruth: Not really. Even if he had some free time, he doesn’t know how to communicate with her without fighting.

 

As I had suspected, a problem about an outer-world issue – a secret boyfriend – pointed to a hidden inner issue, the lack of love and communication.  I wanted to try to move our discussion in a positive direction by focusing on Toby’s relationships in her family.  We would eventually discuss the boyfriend, but we needed to wait until we could build a sense of trust in the family.

 

DS: Ruth, from what you have described to me, it seems that Toby is lacking something in her relationships. Although she seems to want to do her own thing, I think that what she is really crying out for is a deeper relationship with you and your husband. I know you love her very much and would do anything to help.   I’m sure your husband feels the same way. What I want to try to do is to reduce some of the tension in the house and see if we can improve the quality of the relationship.  Both of you play an important role in her life. You can give her a sense of warmth and security.  It seems that Toby needs her father to be more involved in her life. She needs to feel that she is loved by him and that she can talk to him without feeling judged or criticized.

Ruth: So what can I do?

DS: There’s a way to help Toby. It’s called Relationship Theory.  It means that the most important way for parents to show their love for their teenagers is by developing their relationship with them. Often the emergence of emotional problems like Toby’s is a sign that a child is missing a critical relationship – most likely with a parent. If you can build that relationship, then a lot of pain and stress can be alleviated.

Debbie’s Body Piercing

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Referring back to our earlier case of Debbie’s body piercing, let’s see how using knowledge of Debbie’s inner world and the power of spending quality time together can help her parents connect to her.

Daniel Schonbuch (DS): I’m interested in finding out more about your relationship. Was there a time when it was better?

Mother: Actually, Debbie and I never had a great relationship, although it used to be better when she was younger.

DS: When did it change?

Mother: Well I think it started to get bad around the time she turned eleven. She was always a quiet girl and didn’t talk much about her feelings. When her body started changing and she started putting on weight, she started feeling terrible about herself.

DS: Would you say that Debbie has low self-esteem?

Mother: Absolutely.  It’s something she has been struggling with for years.

DS: Is she the kind of teenager who feels that nothing goes right in her life?

Mother: I think so.  She is always complaining about school, teachers, her sisters and her friends.

DS: Tell me a bit about her friends.

Mother: I don’t like her friends very much.  They are always getting into trouble with boys and things.  She spends all night talking on the phone with them.  Last night she was up until two o’clock talking and I couldn’t wake her up this morning.

DS: Do you often fight about things like waking up or going to bed?

Mother: All the time.  It’s gotten so bad that I try not to fight anymore with her.  But what can I do? Let her fall apart?

DS: What about the way she dresses?

Mother: I think it’s terrible. Debbie always looks shlumpy, like she doesn’t care that much about how she looks.

DS: She doesn’t care about her looks?

Mother: She doesn’t know how to present herself to others. It seems that she always picks something a little out of fashion to wear. It’s like she’s saying, “Don’t bother me with fashion statements.”

DS: Do you also fight about her clothing?

Mother: Of course. We’ve been fighting for years about her clothes. The more I get involved in her clothing, the more we just end up fighting with each other.

DS: Do you ever take her out to go shopping?

Mother: I try, but she is impossible to buy clothing with.  Last week I took her for a pair of shoes for our cousin’s bar mitzvah, and she kept saying, “I can’t stand these shoes.  You don’t know what I want!”

 

From this conversation, it seemed that Debbie was dealing with two main issues: self-esteem and control.  I wanted to see if we could find a creative way to address her inner need for control and work to build up her self-esteem.  I also wanted to try to reduce the tension in Debbie and her mother’s interactions and start moving their relationship in a positive direction.

 

DS: Let me ask you a question. Does Debbie have a clothing allowance or do you buy her clothes for her?

Mother: She doesn’t have an allowance; she just gets things when she needs them. We don’t have enough money to support an allowance fund. It’s hard enough just making ends meet.

DS: Okay, let me make a suggestion. Why don’t you try to make a budget? I know things are hard for you, but I’m sure you already spend money on her clothing. Work out with your husband how much you could be sure of being able to give her every month. Tell her that you and her father think it is a good idea. But remember; don’t say anything about the body piercing. The goal is to empower her and give her a good feeling about herself. You can’t really control her anymore, but you can make her feel that you care about her.

Mother: It’s not a bad idea.

DS: I hope that she will feel you are supporting her.

Mother: We have been fighting for so long. I don’t know what it will do.

DS: It’s not what it will do; it’s about the feeling that you will give her. The unconscious message is “I just want you to feel good about yourself. Here’s some money so you can buy something pretty that you enjoy.”  You also need to address her need for control.  I want to see if this approach can help.

 

The next time Debbie’s mother returned, she reported that Debbie liked the idea of having a clothing allowance.  I asked her mother to try this out for a few months and be very careful not to criticize her about her clothing.  During that time, I wanted to talk to Debbie about her feelings of low self-esteem and asked her if she would consider coming in to talk with me.

Controlling Your Teenager (Continued From 2/19/10 Issue)

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The fifth pillar of the inner world is what the eminent psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl called the “Will to Meaning.” This desire for meaning implies wanting to know the whys of life and not just the hows.

Most teenagers have a tremendous desire to know why events are happening to them. In fact, when teens are empowered with meaning and understand the whys of life, they are more able to negotiate the hows and the many challenges that life presents.

Unfortunately, our educational system often denies a teenager’s need for meaning. Our schools tend to tell our children what they have to do but not why they have to do it. When they are given an answer like “because I said so,” they interpret it to mean the teacher is not interested in what they are feeling or what they have to say.

With this in mind, parents need to spend a considerable amount of time trying to explain to their teens the whys of life. For example, when children feel neglected by their school, parents can help by discussing with them how a school runs, the financial and organizational pressures facing the school and why teachers can’t always give students the attention they deserve.

Teenagers also benefit from knowing the meaning behind their parents’ behavior. If you want your teenager to go to bed early, for example, the reason you might offer is that the teenager has been working hard all day and needs more rest. And that’s sufficient. At least your teenager knows why you expect him or her to go to sleep and does not think that you simply don’t want him or her around.

I remember coming home from a very hard day of work to a very lively household of children. I told them that I needed a break and would be glad to play with them later in the evening. In the past – before I learned about my children’s inner desire for meaning – I wouldn’t have spent much time explaining to them how I was feeling. After learning more about their inner world, I was able to sit down with my two older boys and say, “I just want you to know that I love you very much and I had a really pressured day at work. I have a big headache and need some time to read a book and relax. Giving me a little time now would allow me to give you more quality time later. Please play by yourselves for another half hour. Then I will come join you to help with homework and play.”  My explanation alleviated some of the hurt they felt that I couldn’t spend time with them right away.

Parents shouldn’t worry that they have to provide the perfect answer for every question or know the meaning behind everything that happens in life. Nor do their answers have to be absolute proof in the philosophical sense. If parents don’t feel that they have the right answers, they can always tell their teenagers that they would like to speak to an expert in that field or do some more reading about the topic.  The key element is to make teenagers aware that you are interested in their world and willing to discuss ideas that are close to their hearts.

 

Relationship Test

How often do you explain to your teenager the “whys” of life?

1              2        3         4         5

Never    Rarely         Constantly

 

The Relationship Test

Now go back and add up your numbers for all five of the relationship tests.  The test is a measuring stick that can help you evaluate how responsive you are to your teen’s needs. If you scored below 10, then clearly the bonds of your relationship are very weak and you need to spend time nurturing your connection. If you scored above 10, then you have a greater chance of breaking through into your teen’s emotional world.  If you scored 20 or above, then you are doing a great job and you should continue to strengthen the quality of your relationship.

By focusing on their teens’ inner worlds, parents can create a deeper connection and facilitate a greater sense of closeness. The benefits of this new relationship include:

 

  • Mutual respect and trust
  • Empathy – sympathetic understanding – for one another
  • Emphasis on assets rather than faults
  • Sharing of thoughts and feelings rather than hiding them and bearing resentment

 

Spending Quality Time Together

As part of the process of connecting to your teenager, an important step is spending quality time together.  I know that for many families, spending time with an individual child or teenager seems like a daunting task.  However, making the effort to do so can go a long way in building your relationship.

Controlling Your Teenager

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Control

As children move from infancy into middle and later childhood, they have a growing need for control over their environment. To meet this need, teenagers must be given reasonable power to make choices about what they eat, whom they play with, and what extracurricular activities they participate in. They need to be given the opportunity to make choices that they view as important in different areas in their lives.  Parents can find many ways to safely empower teens without allowing them to make dangerous choices.  Teens can make safe choices when buying clothing, planning family trips, or selecting their birthday presents.  Most of the time the significance of the choices does not matter; even small decisions can make a difference and allow them to feel that they can fulfill their desire for control in a healthy way. Whether to eat chocolate or vanilla ice cream, what time to have a get together, or which days are best for a family outing are equally important.  Although some choices seem inconsequential, what matters is the overall feeling teenagers will have when given the power to choose.

I once counseled family whose oldest child had trouble sitting for a long period of time at the Shabbos table.  As the first born, he seemed to have a strong desire for control and felt too old to be sitting with his younger brothers and sisters. I suggested to his father that he make his son a partner in running the Shabbos meal and turning over some responsibility, such as giving out treats to the other children for good behavior.  Almost immediately, this teenager felt empowered at the table and was more willing to participate and enjoy the family experience. He was provided a way to fulfill his need for control in a healthy manner, which reduced the power struggle at the table that had been going on for some time.

Control may also be given in return for a teen accepting increased responsibility. Here are some suggestions for safe levels of control parents can allow their teenager:

 

  • For teenagers who want to use the car: Make a list of necessary maintenance activities, like buying gas, changing the oil, and checking the pressure in the tires. Explain that when you see that they are responsible for taking care of the car, you will discuss ways of letting them use it more often.

 

  • For teenagers who want to buy their own things: Open a bank account with them and set target dates for saving money to buy the items they want.  You can also deposit an allowance into the account on a weekly basis according to their behavior in the home.

 

  • For teenagers who want to have more fun outside the house: Make a list of chores around the house that they are responsible for.  Reward their performance monetarily or by taking them to do fun things.

 

  • For teenagers who want to buy a lot of clothing: Create a monthly clothing allowance, a budget, and a list of prices of the clothing they want to buy.

 

  • For teenagers who don’t like school and want to work: Arrange for an after-school internship in a local business or profession.

 

  • For teenagers who don’t like eating with the family: Buy an easy cookbook and have them make a weekly menu of the foods they prefer.   They can also help cook the meals they have chosen.

 

When parents empower teenagers with a healthy modicum of control, they are giving them the strength to step into the adult world and take responsibility for their own actions.

 

Relationship Test

How often do you give your teenager the opportunity to make his or her own choices?

1           2        3         4         5

Never  Rarely         Constantly

 

 

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com.

Self Esteem, Individuality and Love for Teenagers

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Self-Esteem

We often use the expressions “good self-esteem” or “poor self-esteem” to describe people’s evaluation of their own worth.  When people have good self-esteem, they tend to view life from a positive perspective, seeing their potential value.  Poor or low self-esteem causes people to feel that everything they do in life is a losing battle and that they always get the short end of the stick.

Low self-esteem can be very painful and difficult to overcome. Self-esteem is something we come into the world with; it follows us through life like a shadow. If we lose it, we are lost. If we have we it, we can face all of life’s trials and tribulations and maintain our sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being.

Self-esteem is also profoundly affected by what happens to us along life’s path. Many circumstances may contribute to low self-esteem in teenagers, including:

  • Divorce
  • Learning disabilities
  • Lack of friendships
  • Illness
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • A sick parent
  • A death in the family

 

Many of these issues make a person feel that life will always be fraught with pain and failure.  Low self-esteem makes people feel that their proverbial cup is always half empty.

For parents trying to connect to teenagers with low self-esteem, the best strategy is not to focus on the teens’ negative patterns of behavior but rather to find ways to nourish their inner sense of self. Parents can take many steps to help build their teens’ self-esteem.  Here are just a few:

  • Highlight positive aspects of their physical, mental, and emotional development, such as the way they look, the way they express their thoughts and feelings, the skills they have, and those they are developing.
  • Focus on their accomplishments. Congratulate them for their achievements, however big or small. Remind them daily of the things they do well and of the courage they have shown.
  • Help them to be realistic and accept the facts that they aren’t perfect at everything and they don’t have to be.
  • Teach them to laugh at past disappointments when you can. Use set backs as opportunities for insight and growth.
  • Help them develop a support system of people they trust who will listen when they need to talk.

 

Relationship Test: Do you take time to develop your teen’s self-esteem?

1            2        3         4         5

Never   Rarely        Constantly

 

Individuality

A person’s individuality consists of the qualities and characteristics that distinguish that person as a unique human being.  Without a sense of uniqueness, it is difficult for a person to establish their own identity in the world and to understand the special role that they will play.

Individuality is a very powerful part of being a teenager and the need for it grows, as children get older. Young children’s identities are often enveloped in the family’s identity and they have little opportunity to express their own sense of self.   But as they become teenagers, they have a greater need to establish their unique identity among their family and peers.

When dealing with teens at risk, parents need to take the time to acknowledge their teenagers’ unique positive qualities. Unique qualities distinguish every human being.  The fact that a teen may be depressed or difficult to relate to does not mean that the he or she has no positive personality traits.  For example, a fifteen-year-old girl who is doing poorly in school excels as an artist and musician. Or a fourteen-year-old boy with ADHD is a talented carpenter and has many practical and social skills that will help him to succeed in the business world.

Unfortunately we tend to demand the same level of success academically from all children, even though school achievement may not be an appropriate measuring stick with which to evaluate their success in life.  Try to look at all teenagers as diamonds that need to be polished.  When you help identify people’s unique qualities, you are helping them to remove their rough exterior and allowing their G-d-given brightness to shine.

At the same time, a teen’s individuality must be moderated in relation to many other factors, including the need to be part of the family, school, and society. The challenge of individuality is for parents to nurture their teens’ sense of uniqueness and at the same time help them to integrate their identity into the greater whole.

 

Relationship Test: How often do you help your teen become aware of his or her individuality?

1            2        3         4         5

Never   Rarely       Constantly

 

Love and Friendship

Love is one of the most important ingredients of life that can contribute to a person’s emotional well-being.  It is experienced when a person senses feelings of affection and fondness from others, especially from family and friends.

Children begin life seeking love from their parents and their environment.  When babies are fed when hungry, held when scared, and covered when cold, they sense love and security from their parents.   If the desire for love is fulfilled, children can grow up with the confidence needed to live a life of optimism and emotional security.  If the need for love is frustrated, then people can be left with feelings of loneliness and despair.

The Roadmap To Your Teenager’s Inner Worlds

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Relating to their teenager can be easier than most parents think, especially when they learn about the key areas that can sustain the relationship: connection, control, and communication.   Together the “Three Cs of Relationship Theory” provide a simple map to help parents evaluate where the relationship is going and show them how to steer their way through the rough roads of the teenage years.

The three Cs can help parents see the bigger picture and then decide which areas demand attention and which issues are superficial and should not be the focus of their relationship with their teenagers. For example, teenagers may tell their parents one day that they don’t want to listen to them and that they are going to do something that the parents disagree with.  Or parents may receive an unexpected phone call from the principal to discuss their teen’s behavioral problems in the classroom.   Should parents become angry, go on the offensive, and try to control their teens’ behavior?  Or should they try to learn more about their teens’ inner issues, spend more quality time with them, and gently counsel them through their dilemmas? A look at the Three Cs should provide an answer.

Most problems can be resolved if parents focus their attention on one or more of the three key areas. According to Relationship Theory, parents need to ask whether the problem can be resolved by connecting more deeply to their teenager, by modifying their level of control, or by improving their communication with their teen.

The following chart (figure 3) summarizes the principles of Relationship Theory. In this and the following chapters, parents will learn how to put these principles into action.

 

 

 

Connection

Teenagers have many ways to drive their parents crazy. Take Debbie, for example, a fourteen-year-old girl who attends a prominent Jewish day school. Recently her mother discovered she had several body piercings concealed under her clothes. Her mother was distraught because Debbie was doing something that she and her husband found repugnant. She found out about the piercings from her neighbor after Debbie slept over at the neighbor’s house.

In truth, Debbie’s piercings are just one example of various forms of self-abusive behavior that have become trendy. The fashion industry has been able to make body piercing and wearing overly tight clothing or uncomfortable high heels popular. The industry has also created a belief that somehow clothing or accessories will bring a sense of happiness or pleasure to the consumer.  Of course, pleasure is a relative term. To Debbie the piercings may have seemed pleasurable since she received attention for being at the edge of fashion. For her parents however, it was a sign that their daughter was rebelling against their family, and they were causing considerable frustration and embarrassment.

Are the piercings the only problem? Or is something deeper going on in Debbie’s life? To help them connect to their teenagers, Relationship Theory asks parents to find out what issues are motivating their teens towards negative or self-destructive behavior.

In Debbie’s case, my suspicion was that behind the outer issue of body piercings were deeper emotional issues that related to unresolved conflicts in her family.  I believed that her body piercing was a call for help and that her parents needed to find out more about Debbie’s inner world.

 

Learning about Your Teen’s Inner World  

Teens like Debbie live in two emotional worlds: an outer world and an inner one.  The outer world represents a person’s exterior or façade.  It is a surface level from which people project their personality to their parents, friends and society.  For instance, in the outer world people can appear friendly and extroverted or sad and uncommunicative.   They can also appear defensive or aggressive, but these attitudes don’t accurately tell us what’s really going on at the core of who they are or what they may be struggling with.

I once saw a client who at first appeared to be very “put together” on the outside.  He presented himself as a sharp dresser, considerate, and calm.  But after a few minutes of discussing why he had come to see me, it became apparent that he was suffering from depression and anxiety, carefully hidden from almost everyone around him.

People often try to hide how they feel.  But when they do, they may not be aware of how their defensive responses may come across to others – especially their parents. Here is a list of the ways teenagers usually try to hide their feelings that exist below the surface:

 

  • Negative behavior: threatening, attacking, sarcastic, rude

How others perceive this teenager: obnoxious, hostile, aggressive.

Inner feelings: hurt, anxious, embarrassed, fearful.

More Common Teenage Issues

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Mark, sixteen years old, has trouble sitting still in class. His mind wanders; he’s anxious and is failing many of his subjects. Mark was never tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; somehow he slipped through the cracks in the system and never received the help he needed years ago. Mark now faces difficulty finishing high school.

Studies have shown that teenagers with ADHD are at greater risk for school failure, other learning disabilities, and alcohol or other drug abuse. Mark may have more difficulty maintaining friendships and getting along with his family. He may also be more irritable and have a quick temper. Teenagers with ADHD are also at higher risk for developing depression because of the frustrations that come with this disorder.

It is important to note that about “20 to 40 percent of ADHD children may eventually develop conduct disorder (CD), a more serious pattern of antisocial behavior.”¹³ These children frequently lie or steal, fight with or bully others, and are at serious risk of getting into trouble at school or with the police. They violate the basic rights of other people, are aggressive toward people and/or animals, destroy property, break into people’s homes, commit thefts, carry or use weapons, or engage in vandalism.

Depression

Simon, age 15, has lost the zest for life he once enjoyed as a child. He is successful in school, but personally unhappy. He also suffers from feelings of sadness and despair and has withdrawn from spending time with friends and family. Simon is suffering from depression.

In 2000, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that more teens suffer from depression than you might think. It is estimated that one in five children have some sort of mental, behavioral, or emotional problem, and that one in ten may have a serious emotional problem. Among adolescents, one in six may suffer from depression. Of all these children and teens struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, a mere 30% receive any sort of intervention or treatment. The other 70% simply struggle through the pain of mental illness or emotional turmoil, doing their best to make it to adulthood.

I have found that parents do not recognize the symptoms of depression in their adolescent children. Symptoms to look out for include:

Constant worry or prolonged irritability Lack of energy Trouble concentrating Wearing dark clothing Preoccupation with music that has nihilistic themes Chronic aches and pains

Eating Disorders

Rachel has a secret that she is desperate to keep. She’s fourteen years old, on the verge of entering high school and she is dying to be thin, literally. Recently she discovered that maintaining her pre-adolescent shape might just be possible. Laxative abuse, self-induced vomiting and excessive exercise may be able to keep her slim forever.

Rachel suffers from bulimia nervosa. She has a serious illness that can lead to malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, heart attack, and seizures. Some studies indicate that 1 in 19 orthodox teens has an eating disorder and few receive the care needed to overcome this dangerous and growing phenomenon.

Eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight. Researchers are investigating how and why initially voluntary behaviors, such as eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, at some point move beyond control for some people and develop into an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not due to a failure of will or behavior; they are real, treatable medical illnesses in which certain maladaptive patterns of eating take on a life of their own. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third type, binge-eating disorder, has been suggested but has not yet been approved as a formal psychiatric diagnosis. Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but some reports indicate their onset can occur during childhood or later in adulthood.

Hating School

Michael is fifteen years old and he’s already been in three different schools. Last week he was expelled from his yeshiva and is now hanging around at home with nothing to do.

Bearing the pain of the situation and realizing the implications for his future, Michael’s parents begin to ask themselves what went wrong. They vaguely remember his early childhood experiences at school. In third grade, he had a hard time with his rabbi. He recalls, “My rabbi was very mean to us. He used to yell at me when I didn’t even do anything. He also gave me ridiculous punishments, like writing thirty Mishnayos over and over again – just for coming late to davening!”

And then there were the problems in fourth grade and again in sixth grade with the rabbis who Michael’s parents thought would understand their son. But he wasn’t able to keep up in Talmud, and being frustrated, he just stopped trying. That’s when the behavior problems started. Michael started receiving more detentions and notes from the principal, and eventually he got kicked out of school for disrupting the class.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/more-common-teenage-issues/2010/01/08/

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