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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Instilling Derech Eretz

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

I enjoyed your recent column concerning the jealousy a girl had toward her newborn brother.

As you deal with derech eretz-related issues, I need to tell you that I am having a hard time with my children regarding this very topic. They no longer follow the rules you set in your DVD, “Chutzpah is Muktzah 2.”

I wonder if their deteriorating attitude is happening because my husband and I are arguing more often. Unfortunately my husband lost his job, and although I am working and he is collecting unemployment, he is very nervous at the lack of job opportunities. This is causing him to fight with and act very disrespectful to me. Can it be that the children are picking up on this and acting disrespectfully toward me as well? I am trying hard to be supportive; I know that this situation is very hard on him. My husband had a high-level, prestigious job and is very educated, so being home and feeling inadequate is very difficult for him.

I, Baruch Hashem, have a great job, enabling us to manage financially. Due to the circumstances, I am not making any major purchases and not putting any pressure on my husband. But between his anger and the children acting out, I am going crazy. Dr. Respler, please help me deal with this situation. While I try to support my husband, I must get my children under control.

A Mother Who Is Losing Her Mind

Dear Mother:

It sounds like you are correct and your children are feeling the tension at home, which may be adding to their stress level. This stress, in turn, may be manifesting itself in their behavior and speech. Nevertheless, you can begin to change it.

Try to speak to your children and your husband in the same manner with which you want them to speak to you. This will permit them to hear proper speech all day and it will begin to become second nature to them. You can also speak to your husband about how your children’s level of derech eretz (or lack thereof) is bothering you and that you want to start changing the way people speak to each other in the house. Tell him that if the two of you start to speak to each other and to the children in a very respectful manner, they will respond in kind. It follows the premise of practicing what you preach. This may alleviate some of the tension because even though your husband is edgy, once everyone starts to speak nicely at home, things may become calmer.

You can also start a derech eretz chart with your children. Every time they speak with derech eretz, you should give them a sticker and make a big deal about it. After 10 stickers, your children can choose a small prize or treat. The prizes/treats can be tangible or something like special time with you or your husband. Give your children a lot of positive reinforcement when they speak respectfully. They will crave this attention, and will continue to speak with derech eretz because they will want to continue to receive it. When your children speak disrespectfully, remind them in a calm and loving way of the proper way to speak – and give them a chance to self-correct. If all else fails, you can even remind them of the prize for which they are working.

In order to alleviate some of the tension, try talking to the children about what is going on. Parents generally feel that they should shield their children, and thus do not talk to them about life’s stressful things. While this may sound like the best course of action, it actually can be harmful to children. Children pick up on stress and hear bits and pieces of what is going on. This often becomes very scary to them because they know you are upset, and this upsets them as well.

Moreover, because no one ever sat down with them and told them what is going on, they may think something terrible is happening. It would be a good idea to sit with them and explain that Daddy is going through a hard time because he lost his job. He may look sad and angry, but everything will be okay and the family will be fine. You can ask the children to try to listen and talk nicely, so that the situation becomes easier on Daddy. Ask them if they have any questions and inquire about how they feel regarding what you just told them. Try to answer their questions as honestly as possible and in a soothing way. While not saying anything that would scare them, don’t lie to them. Listen to their feelings and tell them that any questions they may still have should be directed to you, not your husband. Explain to them that it is too painful a topic for him to talk about.

Pro-Palestinian Jewish Author Facing Indian Deportation for Muslim Extremist Ties

Monday, March 5th, 2012

British-born Jewish author Susuan Nathan, who is staying in Kozhikode, in the South-Indian state of Kerala, is about to be expelled from the country for her ties with Islamic extremist groups, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported Monday.

Nathan came to India for medical treatment. In September she asked Indian authorities for permission to live in India for five more years in order to finish her literary work and to complete treatment. She says her condition, post traumatic stress disorder, destroyed her family.

The Kerala government informed the High court in Kochi that Nathan had “close connections” with Islamic extremist groups like the banned Students Islamic Movement of India  (SIMI) and National Development Front (NDF).

SIMI was banned in India under US pressure after 9/11. The ban was lifted by an Indian court in 2008, and reinstated after 24 hours.

NDF is regarded as a militant and extremist Muslim organization. It is operating in Kerala to improve the conditions of poor Muslims and other minorities in that state.

At age 50, Susan Nathan fulfilled a lifelong dream by immigrating to Israel from England in 1999. She took a job with “Mahapach” (Turnabout), an organization that went into deprived areas, both Jewish and Arab, to tutor young people. Soon she became a vociferous advocate of Palestinian rights.

In 2003 she moved from Tel Aviv to the Arab village of Tamra in northern Israel, where she wrote “The Other Side of Israel,” about the “historical, political and cultural currents of the Middle Eastern conflict.” The book has been translated into nine languages, including Malayalam, the dialect of Kerala.

Over the past decade, Nathan has been an outspoken pro-Palestinian advocate, appearing in Sweden and the US in forums such as the Swedish Human Rights festival and the Stockholm Olof Palme Centre, as well as forums sponsored by the Arab American Association. Nathan writes extensively for the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet on issues related to Israel.

The Malaysian news agency Bernama reported that the 62-year-old Nathan was recently ordered by the Kozhikode District to leave the country, after her visa had expired. She was staying in a house in Kozhikode that had allegedly been arranged for her by Abu Backer, the former Vice President of the banned SIMI.

Nathan is challenging her deportation in the Kerala High court.

The Indian Express reports that a Division bench, comprised of two justices, has reserved orders on the petition.

In an interview with Niranjalli Varma of doolnews.com, Nathan sounded calm about her current predicament:

“What is going on now is nothing when compared to what I have faced in my life, be it in South Africa or Israel. This is nothing. This is like Winnie the Pooh’s tea party. There was no problem in extending my visa and there is no problem in extending my visa again. There is some kind of concoction from the side of the police.”

Varma inquired: “Have you been under any sort of pressure or stress from any political or religious group?”

Nathan responded: “No, not at all. All I would say is that a very eminent Professor of Psychiatry who works in Belgium has written to my lawyer stating that I am suffering from very severe post traumatic stress disorder. Which means that I don’t sleep at night, I become very nervous or afraid when I see a police car on the streets, I become hyper vigilant of people who visit my home, I am over suspicious of people and my response to very innocent questions could be at times aggressive and  defensive.

“That is what post traumatic stress disorder does. It affects your concentration, it would take considerable amount of time before I overcome it and I need specialist care here. I don’t want to talk more about that. But I would like to say it destroyed my family, it destroyed my children.”

Multi-Generation Blended Family

Friday, February 17th, 2012

My family is once again in transition. We are in the processes of evolving from your basic “blended family” to a “multi-generational blended family household.” As is often the case for those of us in our forties (and approaching 50), we have begun a new chapter – the one commonly known as the “sandwich generation.” At this stage we are “sandwiched” between raising our young children, while at the same time trying to help our parents as they age. Since many of us started building our own families while we were quite young, we now find ourselves providing support (financial or otherwise) to adult and or married children and grandchildren while still having younger children at home.

On a personal level, our daily lives currently revolve around our five minor children and one adult child living at home, an adult daughter living away from home, a married daughter and her family who live a block away from us and her newest additions; and my parents who recently moved in with us. Thankfully, my parents are physically well and have each other and therefore able to have their own apartment. Somehow though it seems surreal that fifteen years after moving away from them, they are now living in an apartment attached to our home and have become part of our extended household.

Multi-generational families are making a comeback these days. For some the choice is made out of necessity because of the unstable economy, for others it is due to the physical needs of either the younger generation or aging parents. And then sometimes the decision to live this way is out of a mutual desire to be full and present participants in extended family life. For us it was a combination of factors that brought us to this point. For as long as I can remember, my parents have talked about being able to live in Israel. Fortunately I married a “doer,” a man who takes action, overcomes obstacles and makes thing happen. Since my parents had a clear wish to make aliyah when my mother decided to retire, my husband undertook the challenge of helping them realize this dream. This was no easy task. My parents were living in the US; we live in Israel, and embarked on a yearlong construction project to make it a reality. Since my husband and I are of the belief that Israel is the homeland of all Jews, and that as Jews it is our obligation to come “home”, we view helping our parents to attain this goal as part of our commitment to “honor” our parents.

In their decision to relocate to Israel my parents could have chosen to move to a city with greater amenities than the small settlement my family and I live in. They could have chosen a more “Anglo” neighborhood, surrounded by people who would better understand their culture, their language and their philosophies. They could have lived in a city or a retirement community with people closer to their age. However, a major motivation for my parents is their desire to get to know their grandchildren. My children and my brother’s children have lived far from my parents for most of their lives. Since my brother moved to Israel before his first child was born, my parents, for the most part, played the role of visiting or simcha grandparents. My older children, born during my first marriage, had a close relationship with my parents up until the time I re-married and re-located, after which we visited, phoned and e-mailed – but it just wasn’t the same as seeing them daily. My parents, now retired, understand the important position they can play in our children’s lives and I feel blessed by their desire to embrace that role.

Change is difficult at any age but especially when you are older; moving to a new country could prove to be overwhelming. From a logistical standpoint living in close proximity to family members who are looking out for your best interest makes that transition so much easier. I suggested that if moving to Israel was what my parents wanted, the best scenario for all of us would be for them to live here with us. Yes, it will be work for me to balance all of my personal responsibilities; my husband, children, parents, home, and community obligations, but they understood that living far from us would cause additional stress and that I would not be as available to assist them. I felt that they could be reasonably happy here and did not want a situation where I would feel torn between my husband and children’s needs and my parents.

What I failed to consider in this new arrangement was the emotional affect it would have on all of us. For an entire year my husband and I spent every waking hour and many restless nights dealing with some phase of the move. My family suffered through the challenges of construction while attempting to retain some semblance of normalcy in our active home. We were so busy that my husband and I honestly did not even have a chance to consider the emotional impact. To my surprise, in the early hours before my parent’s arrival, my husband suddenly turned to me and simply said “I guess starting tomorrow our lives will be changed forever.” It was at precisely that moment that I became conscious of the fact that we had never actually talked about all of the ramifications of this decision. We never weighed the pros and cons or discussed how our children were going to react or how this was going to affect us as a couple. What was it going to be like living with my parents after all of these years? It was then that I felt an overwhelming affection for this man I married; I understood that his entering into my life allowed me to be able to do this for my dear parents. One of the first things that drew me to my husband was his sense of knowing what was “right.” When he believes in something he uses all of his strength and his determination to follow through and make it happen.

Israel Study: Maternal Stress a Plus for Fetus

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Children of mothers who experienced stress during pregnancy may have increased abilities to cope with mental and physical distress in maturity, according to a study out of the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion and Ha’Emek Hospital in Afula reported by Globes.

According to Dr. Avi Avital of the Technion, pregnant rats exposed to stressful stimuli gave birth to offspring who reacted to stressors with reduced levels of corticosterone hormone .  Babies of mothers with low stress in pregnancy reacted with higher levels of the stress hormone.

Furthermore, rats who experienced distress in utero showed less physical signs of distress during stressful situations than their previously non-stressed counterparts, and showed better survival instincts.

However, stress during the “childhood” of rats did not improve their abilities.  On the contrary, rats exposed to stress in pre-adolescence exhibited increased distress reactions in the years following.

How To Make Mornings A Pleasure

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Ahh, the mornings. A time of peace and serenity, for sipping a cup of coffee while catching up on the morning news. Or perhaps you use the time to bake fresh healthy cookies for the family’s midday snack. However, if your mornings are better described as rush hour compounded by nagging warnings, here are a few handy steps to create a stress free routine.

1. Morning routines start, ironically, at night. When the children come home from school, go through their backpacks and prepare whatever needs to be brought in for the next day. The kids should place their jackets, backpacks and shoes in the same spot every day. This area should be accessible to them, with hooks, a shelf or a bench. If you come home after your children, check their backpacks then. Make sure whoever is with them until you come home abides by a set schedule of homework, dinner and baths, so that you can put your children to sleep.

Mothers who pick up their children at the babysitter’s towards evening might face a special challenge. If it’s at all possible, do everything you can to avoid that extra stress. What works for my family – on the days I work late, I employ two babysitters, one to watch my son during the day at her home and the second to pick up my daughter from school and bring them both home. The cost of the two babysitters is only slightly more expensive then one, but well worth it in terms of the anxiety it saves.

If the situation cannot be avoided, then upon arriving home, make sure the children abide by a healthy sleeping schedule. Growing children need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep – every night. That’s why letting them stay up late so they can spend time with Mommy or Tatty is debilitating. A better idea, according to Dina Friedman, from the illuminating parenting course Chan0ch Lnaar, is staggering bedtimes so that each child can spend 10 minutes alone with Mommy or Daddy before bed – doing something enjoyable and going over their day. In physiological terms, this qualifies as sufficient quality time.

2. Prepare mitzvah notes, tzedakah, snacks and the like while cleaning up after dinner. Children over the age of four can prepare their own snacks and lunches.

3. Get enough sleep. I cannot stress how vital adequate sleep is. Without proper sleep hygiene, nobody can, or could possible be expected to, function. Give yourself a bedtime, just as you do for the kids, and keep to it within the half hour. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try these tips:

Minimize screen time such as computer or TV an hour before bedtime.

Use your bed only as a place for sleeping, not reading or chatting on the phone.

Take a hot shower or bath close to bedtime.

Don’t toss and turn in bed. After 15 minutes, get out of bed and try again in another 15 minutes.

If you have a newborn, make up interrupted sleep with daytime naps. This is a priority that takes precedence over any amount of dishes stacked in the sink. This point is so crucial that it bears repeating: without adequate amount of sleep, you cannot function the next day. So get the sleep you need!

4. Set out a complete outfit, including shoes, underwear, hair accessories, yarmulkahs, tzizit etc. for everyone the night before. I like to set out clothes for the week every Sunday night, but if you don’t have the space to lay out that much clothes, the night before is sufficient. We usually do it right before bedtime, so my daughter can add her input. She then just pulls out the outfit she wants to wear the next morning and gets dressed without needing any further prodding.

6. Wake up half an hour before the kids so that you can get yourself together before everyone else wakes up. With proper sleep habits, this should be a cinch.

7. Wake up your children about an hour before the bus, car pool etc. All children over the age of four should be dressed and washed, by themselves, before coming into the kitchen for breakfast. Make it easy for them by laying out toothbrushes, toothpaste and hairbrushes in easy reach, and keep a stool in the bathroom for easy access to the sink. I’m sure many mothers will scoff at the notion of their kids being so well trained, but I guarantee you, if no breakfast is served until everyone is dressed, it will be just a couple of mornings of stubbornness before this efficient habit is established.

8. Avoid distractions such as reading books, coloring, or playing with toys, by using the when/then method. When they are dressed, then they can play for a specified amount of time. Show little kids on a clock how much time they have to play.

Learning To Communicate And Accept Each Other’s Individuality

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The challenges that married couples face everyday can be quite complicated, not to mention filled with unique nuances. Issues of infidelity in one couple are different from issues of infidelity in another. Not all couples have the same definition for words like “neglect” or “trust.”  One thing is for sure, you can’t place marital life in neat black and white categories.

But while issues put forward to marriage counselors are exclusive to the couple experiencing them, we can still distill principles that can be helpful in most, if not all cases. These principles can enrich a marriage and make it more resilient. At the very least, they can be areas for consideration and reflection.

The following are some basic marriage counseling advice. They may sound trite and cliché, but the more you apply them in your marriage, the more you’ll realize they actually make a lot of sense!

 

Communicate: If something is significant to you, say it — but say it responsibly. Getting your feelings and thoughts across to your partner is always better than bottling them up, and waiting for things to change. You don’t have to disclose everything, in fact, if you don’t feel comfortable about talking about a problem, then at least communicate that you don’t feel comfortable, and give your reasons why. There is nothing more stressful in a marriage than to have to second-guess what your partner needs.

More so, practice honesty as best as you can. Honesty in a relationship isn’t just about factual honesty. Rather, it is being authentic as to what is going on inside of you. If you are sad, then you are sad. If you’re upset, then you are upset. A healthy marriage allows the expression of these feelings without each partner feeling threatened.

Accept that stress is normal: It’s sad that many couples today file for divorce at the first sign of trouble. What is sadder still is that few of these couples know that stress in a marriage is not just normal and expected, but necessary if you want to grow in your relationship. The situation would be no different even if you change partners — as many people in second marriages probably know.

Change always bring stress, and throughout the different stages of marital life — from dating, to settling down, to raising a family — change will happen. As your family structure changes, so should you; adapting and learning new roles are parts of navigating the new seasons of married life. And while it’s sweet to tell your partner “promise me, you’ll never change,” the fact is that all people change. The needs, values and priorities of people in their 20s are different from those in their 40s; and you can’t expect your partner to always be as he or she was before.

What couples can do when stress happens is to understand where it’s coming from, and adapt accordingly. Marriages and families are like organizations; there are systems with rules and patterns of doing things. If a rule no longer works, it needs to be changed. If a pattern is unproductive, it needs to be broken. A couple who can adapt as they go through their marriage will be become better skilled to handle further, possibly greater, challenges.

Create chemistry. After a few years of marriage, many couples complain that they’ve lost that “spark,” and sadly find themselves no longer attracted to one another sexually, emotionally and even intellectually. They go to therapy expecting their counselor to hand them a magic pill that can bring it back. But while it’s true that chemistry is an unexplainable, naturally occurring phenomenon, it also needs work and deliberate effort to produce.

The Need For More Marriage Education

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Are we doing enough to prepare our children for marriage? I’m not talking about matters of Jewish law which couples learn about with their chassan and kallah teachers before they get married. What I’m referring to is the lack of knowledge of effective communication skills needed to make marriage successful and relationship-building tools that can enhance feelings of love and camaraderie.

Couples in our community now face more demands than ever before. The typical complex marriage – managing two careers while rearing children – really requires that couples have very strong, well-established abilities to communicate, resolve issues, maintain mutuality and set goals. Without this foundation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by stress and time pressures. Problems can intrude much more easily than most couples realize. Marriage preparation can function as an immunization that boosts a couple’s capacity to handle potential difficulties.

Overall, we need to give our young couples better skills so they can become successful in their marriages. Unfortunately, couples spend very little time learning about the art of shalom bayis before the wedding. And, unlike other professions such as law and medicine that test and certify their graduates, marriage – the most important and longest profession anyone can enter into – doesn’t require any specific training or certification. Therefore, many couples begin unprepared to meet the challenges that occur on a daily basis such as child rearing, financial pressures, and spending quality time together.

Think about it. A person spends around twelve years in school preparing to enter college which takes four years to complete. Yet, how many years do people train for marriage, which is supposed to last a lifetime?

To take the analogy one step further, if marriage would be placed side by side with other professions, how would it rank? Today, national statistics tell us that only about 50% of marriages are successful. Imagine a doctor who was successful only 50% of the time or a lawyer who only won half of his cases. At some point, there would be a national upheaval and public call to re-evaluate if these doctors and lawyers were truly prepared to enter into their professions.

I know that our community does not share these discouraging statistics. Yet, many of us believe that the divorce rate seems to be rising in the Orthodox world and that divorce appears to be more common than ever before.

All of this points to the need to address the challenges facing young couples and begin the process of pre-marital education. Couples need to learn marital skills and develop realistic expectations before the marriage takes place. Only then will they be prepared to cope successfully with the inevitable ups and downs.

Recently a new program called the S.H.A.L.O.M. Workshop (Starting Healthy and Long Lasting Marriages) was initiated to help engaged couples and newlyweds learn the skills needed to achieve successful marriages. In just one or two sessions the chassan and kallah cover important issues such as:

• Increased understanding and sensitivity to each other’s feelings • Communicating effectively through a sense of mutual respect • Promoting self confidence in each other • Financial Management

As their literature describes, “The S.H.A.L.O.M. Workshop teaches specific, easily learned methods for successful communication and effective problem-solving.” The goal is that participants will emerge with a deeper self-knowledge and the tools to build a happy, successful and long-lasting marriage.

It’s important to note that this workshop in no way replaces traditional chassan and kallah classes; rather it enhances the knowledge learned with easy-to-use and practical tools that can make marriage more enjoyable.

During the workshop, a couple will learn how to actively listen to one another, express their feelings in a healthy way and negotiate a power structure for making key decisions in their lives.

One workshop participant recently commented, “As I am getting married very soon, I think that my future husband and I will greatly benefit from the workshop. Taking the time to listen and let the other person know you are listening felt very validating, and actually enabled us to do something we both were too subjective to suggest doing with each other on our own.”

It’s time to expand the scope of educational programs offered to engaged couples to improve their chances of having a successful marriage and build a Binyan Adei Ad. A pre-marriage program like the S.H.A.L.O.M. Workshop is the place to begin.

To find out more visit their website at www.shalomworkshop.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/the-need-for-more-marriage-education/2011/09/15/

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