Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Advertisers constantly sell their wares as being “easy to use” or “easy to make.” One task that is definitely not easy, though – even in the 21st century – is raising children. Indeed, to be a parent today is far more challenging than it’s ever been.

In the world at large, youngsters nowadays have no problem blaming their parents for all sorts of things they did or didn’t do. In their minds, their parents are the cause of all their misfortune – never mind how much thought, time, and energy their parents invested in them.

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Even otherwise good children will occasionally accuse their parents of having left deep scars on their psyches and claim that they should have employed a different approach toward them when they were younger. (Chances are high, of course, that the end result would have been the same had the opposite approach been used.)

Unfortunately, this attitude has made its way into our camp, and some of our own children now play games with their parent’s conscience. (Parents are advised to be prepared for such moments and to keep their cool; there is no need to give in to manipulation and allow a child to get them upset or cause them to feel guilty and then take advantage of this guilt.)

Many a parent has shared with me that their older children compare their own upbringing with that of their younger siblings: “When we were their age,” they say in reference to their younger siblings, “we weren’t allowed such freedom. Bedtime was strict, treats were restricted, and we weren’t ever allowed to miss school. A strong sense of authority was prevalent at home. Why do our younger siblings enjoy privileges we didn’t?”

These grown-up children point an accusing finger at the very same parents who have never stopped extending themselves – above and beyond – for their (ungrateful?) offspring.

One father I know replied to this complaint by saying, “Listen my child, if you take a step back, you will realize that we consistently applied the same rule. Running a home with children of different ages is an art. For a household to run efficiently, some regulations must be put in place, and we adapted them to the average age of most of the members comprising the household.

“When most of you were small, the two older ones had to conform to the rules that distinguished the needs of the younger members. Today, most of you have grown up, so the younger ones must comply to the rules appropriate for the older children. The principle has remained the same. Everyone sails in the same ship.”

Children live in a world of their own and have no inkling how great a task child-rearing is. Truth be told, neither do adults – until they become parents themselves. People who occupy prestigious positions in world-famous companies have admitted to me that they have never experienced anything as challenging as raising children.

They didn’t realize how all-inclusive it is – how one needs to care for one’s children’s physical and emotional needs, supporting, comforting, soothing, and offering a listening ear even when they stretch your patience (which they are experts at doing). Child-rearing amounts to an around-the-clock commitment with never a day off. (No need to get despondent. After 20 years or so, the “pay check” called nachas will hopefully arrive.)

Children will only appreciate the magnitude of child-rearing when they become parents themselves. And even then, they won’t fully comprehend what they owe their parents until their young ones become teenagers. At that point, with nostalgia, they will look back incredulously, wondering how their parents ever put up with them.

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