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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Torah Sefer’

Teens And “Long” Motzai Shabbosos

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

For the past few years, my wife and I have dreaded one aspect of Eastern Standard Time’s fall arrival.

Here’s our dilemma: We have three teenage children, two girls and a boy, 14-18 years of age. Every Motzai Shabbos, we have major negotiating sessions with each of them regarding curfew and the appropriateness of the venues they and their friends are looking to go to.Any suggestions, please? There has got to be a better way!

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Dear Yitzi:

Reading your letter generated flashbacks – and sweaty palms – as it brought back memories of a few short years ago when my wife and I were raising four teenagers simultaneously (there is a six-year spread between our four married children). Nearly every Motzai Shabbos was a blur of post-havdalah phone calls to and from friends, with my wife and I trying to keep a handle on where each of the kids was going.

On a communal level, there is unfortunately an acute shortage of “kosher” recreation for “normal, on-the-derech” boys and girls. And that often leads to all sorts of friction in homes like yours, as you find yourself vetoing destinations for your children without having anything to replace them with. (I always tell parents to do everything possible not to take away something from their children that they cannot replace. That’s why it is so difficult to separate your children from friends that you do not approve of. It is very difficult to replace the friend due to a whole host of social reasons.)

With that in mind, my first suggestion is to do everything in your power to find or help create enjoyable, kosher and, if possible, supervised entertainment for your children. It may seem daunting, but with some support and cooperation from your friends with children of similar ages, there is quite a bit you can do. Make arrangements to rent a local gym or pool, or better yet organize a league where the children can play sports and compete with each other. Don’t be intimidated. Just call a meeting in your home and get things rolling. In my hometown of Monsey a friend of mine, David Newman, started a Pirchei baseball league about 10 years ago for a relatively small group of kids. It has grown exponentially since then, and hundreds of frum boys now play baseball Sunday afternoons with their fathers coaching and attending. (David has graciously offered to share his experiences with any parents who wish to start similar programs in their communities. He can be reached at dnewlnew@aol.com.)

Now is also the time to establish a relationship built on trust with your growing sons and daughters. Speak to them in easy-to-understand terms about how trust is built between adults, and encourage them to always be honest with you about where they are going. This will require you to be more tolerant and flexible, because should you veto too many places, your kids will ask, “Why can’t we be like our friends who don’t tell their parents, or are untruthful with them?” And that is a tough question to answer. Establish a curfew time for them, and clearly set out the consequences for ignoring the time that they must return. As always, try to be flexible and cut your children some slack if they can respectfully make the case why they would like to be out later.

One thing that I found very helpful as a parent (and long before that as the head counselor of a summer camp where I supervised dozens of older teens on their days and nights off camp grounds) was to set a designated time when your children must call in. For example, if curfew for your child is 11 p.m., inform him or her that you would like a call or text message at 1) 10 p.m. – just to let you know that things are well; and 2) at 11 p.m. – should he or she be running late. I have found that kids who need to call in to parents at specific times are often more aware of the precise time, and what their responsibilities are as far as informing their parents.

Please remember this phrase: Only the boss negotiates!

That means you should always remind yourself not to get flustered by your child’s negotiations with you over the details of your house rules. Always keep in mind that when people wish to negotiate for a raise at work, the only person they will go to is the boss – the one who can grant them the additional pay they seek. Thus, imbedded in the often-grueling give-and-take with your teen(s) is the acknowledgment that they accept your authority as “the boss” of your home. Of course, as normal teenagers they will rarely – if ever – thank you for your concern. But deep down, they appreciate it.

Believe it or not, I occasionally get bitter complaints from teenagers that they do not have a curfew – meaning that their parents are uninvolved and don’t care enough to parent them. In fact, study after study shows that hands-on parents who set limits for their kids have closer and more meaningful relationships with their children than hands-off parents.

Finally, remember to keep to the shvil hazahav (the golden path of moderation) and allow your teens to gradually assume responsibility for their lives – all the while keeping a watchful and caring eye on them.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Project Y.E.S. To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s D’var Torah Sefer, Growing With the Parsha, or his popular parenting tapes and CDs – including his 4-CD set, What Matters Most – please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail udi528@aol.com, or call 845-426-2243.

Negotiating With Our Teenager: Understanding The Dynamics Of ‘The Deal’ (Part I)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

Our eldest child is in 10th grade at a local Bais Yaakov. She is doing well in school and is generally well behaved at home. However, over the past year or so, everything we tell her or ask her becomes a full-scale negotiating session. It doesn’t make a difference what the issue is – curfew, when to do her homework, when to clean her room, etc. It is draining our energy and eroding our relationship with her.

Here are our questions:

1. Is this normal?

2. Isn’t it disrespectful for children to challenge their parents like this? Neither of us thinks we did this to our parents.

3. Do you have any practical suggestions for us?

Names Withheld

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Nowadays, we keep hearing (appropriately so, I might add) that kids need healthy self-esteem. I think that with the incredibly complex and challenging job we face, parents need to nourish their self-esteem as well.

With that in mind, I will share with you a short phrase I tell people whenever the issue of negotiating with kids comes up in the Q&A segment of a parenting lecture: “only the boss negotiates.”

Think about it. When you are attempting to secure a pay raise at work, the only one that you approach is your boss or supervisor. Why? Because no one else in the hierarchy of the business has the authority to grant you additional compensation for your work aside from him (or her).

Thus in a roundabout manner, whenever your teenage daughter negotiates with you, she is acknowledging your authority in a very profound, albeit indirect, way. It’s almost as if she approached you and said the following things in sequence (all things in parentheses are unspoken sentiments):

1. (I know that I need to listen to you because you are my parent)

2. (If you refuse my request, I will have no choice but to accept your decision)

3. (Now that we got that out of the way), “Can I please stay out until 11 p.m. instead of 10:30?”

Now, doesn’t that sound better?

While we are in the parental “self-esteem-building mode,” please consider the fact that it is also a compliment to the two of you that the lines of communication are open between you and your teen. Trust me, that’s not always the case. In fact, when parents tell me that their teens are completely ignoring their house rules, I almost always send them for professional counseling – as that is a clear sign that there is a complete breakdown in the “chain of authority” at home. Reclaiming that takes wisdom, time and patience – and the willingness to change.

This “self-esteem-for-parents thing” is very important since you will be in the best position to effectively parent your child when you are confident, comfortable and in control. That means speaking calmly, not lashing out verbally, and developing an aura of tranquility.

Getting back to the analogy of your boss at work, think of how your respect for your boss would diminish if he yelled at or refused to listen to subordinates when they discuss things with him. You would correctly feel that he is not in control of things. So having the self-confidence to feel in charge and in control of your household will position you to effectively parent your teenage daughter when she “negotiates” with you.

Now, to your first two questions:

1. Is this normal?

This is most certainly normal. Kids have been doing this forever. The tone may have changed over the years, due to a number of societal changes (explaining the reasons for this is beyond the scope of this column), but kids have always tried to negotiate with their parents.

2. Isn’t it disrespectful for children to challenge their parents like this? Neither of us thinks we did this to our parents.

That depends on how the negotiating is done. It is not disrespectful for your child to “negotiate” with you, provided it is done in an atmosphere of ne’imus and derech eretz. Your task as a parent is to train your child to act this way. (Next week, I will share some practical tips to help you accomplish that goal.)

As for whether you did this to your parents, why don’t you ask them? Their answer may surprise you.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S.

To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s D’var Torah Sefer, Growing With the Parshah, or his popular parenting tapes and CDs (including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children”), please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail udi528@aol.com or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/negotiating-with-our-teenager-understanding-the-dynamics-of-the-deal-part-i/2007/11/07/

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