This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.
By Elisheva Maline
Life is full of irony. High school dragged on for, like, forever, but now, when some of us stop to think about it, those years were a blur. As children, we were dying to be free and independent; as adults some of us are almost begging for someone to come tuck us into bed before attacking our bills for us. Honestly, topics which seemed huge to me as a kid (she's wearing the same dress as me!) are issues I dream of dealing with in exchange for the "much bigger" problems I must face as a grown up (how am I going to pay this month's rent?). And that the memories of events are often better than the experiences themselves which is most unexpected.
On a more sardonic note, our best friends sometimes end up our bitterest enemies. The people we love most are usually the ones we are over qualified to hurt, and vice versa, even though we aim to harm them the least. This is why there are so many films about grown up children avoiding home for the holidays etc. etc.
With the last paragraph in mind, we must analyze where the possibilities for keeping peace among family members lie. After all, even when one does not intend to offend another, hurt feelings so easily occur and oftentimes, the ones who were insulted, especially if they're uncommunicative teens, leave their parents gobsmacked while, in a storm of tears, or worse, a stony silence, they stalk away.
I have one suggestion. Validation. Make sure your daughter or son feels loved when s/he is talking to you. King Solomon says in Proverbs, "Educate the child according to his personality so that he will not veer away from your instruction when he grows up" (26:6). Don't wait for your relationship to become strained before deciding you want to wake up and smell the coffee. Ask yourself today, right now, "I hear her talking but what is my child really saying to me?"
I heard a story about a family whose father "saw" the light and decided to become religious. Needless to say, he got his whole family involved and before anyone could say "Friday night candles" he had their bags packed and they moved to a more religious neighborhood. Everything went smoothly at first: the family started observing the Sabbath, the wife covered her hair and the children were enrolled into religious schools. After a few years, however, the oldest child, now fourteen, started missing school. The situation deteriorated until one day, during an argument, the father struck his son. There was a moment of shocked silence and the son burst out, "This isn't fair! I didn't ask for this! You just got an idea one day and changed everything. What about me? No one ever stopped to ask me what I wanted." His father looked at him, speechless.
How often do we do this to our kids? We make decisions and, really, they are usually good ones. We must bear in mind, though, our children are not us and we must take their opinions into account.
When the father recovered from his initial shock, he had a long sit down conversation with his son. Afterward, immediate changes were evident in his child's life and the relationship healed. No one's family is as perfect as the Brady Bunch. Just take time to listen to your kids.
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