In the last two articles, I discussed some of the issues of tznius and how it affected two children of chronically ill parents. I wrote about how infractions of the rules are being handled in some of our schools and gave some suggestions on how the concept of tznius might be approached in a way that raises self-esteem and becomes an aspiration to our daughters instead of a burden. One other thing mentioned in the past articles was the tendency of some parents to not want their children to attend school with children from different backgrounds or children from homes where standards are different than theirs. Many times over the last school year, parents and teachers have told me this same story. The story came from different schools, different cities, and even different countries yet, was eerily the same. A child, sometimes as young as three or as old as twelve, telling his or her classmates that they wouldn’t play with them or let them come to their home because they didn’t keep cholov yisroel. Even more frightening, the teachers told me, was the tone used by the child. A tone, which clearly reflected the feeling of superiority of the child speaking over the child he was speaking to. In two of these cases, when the parents became involved, the teachers discovered that though these families kept cholov yisroel themselves, they had never expressed to their children that they could not be friends with children who didn’t. In fact, they saw nothing wrong with these children or families. However, they could not convince their child of this. Their children had some how heard a different message.
Though in today’s fearful world, I can understand a parents’ desire to segregate their children, keeping them only with children who will reinforce the values they see in their home and not expose them to anything different. It makes parenting easier and gives the illusion of safety. But what happens the first time the child is confronted with something different, something foreign to what they have seen at home and at school? Will they have the skills to deal with it, to examine it and to evaluate it? Or will it put their whole belief system in question? Or worse still, will they dismiss it as unworthy and see the people who believe this way as inferior to them? And, is this not sinas chinam?
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