Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Taking Responsibility

There is a well known Rosh Yeshiva who has a son that, nebuch, "went off the derech". This Rosh Yeshiva is [was?] an outspoken proponent a secular education, service in the Army, support of the Jewish government, universal ethics etc. etc. All of his children followed his path except for one.

He became super-charedi. No Zionism. No college. No army. Just Toirah, Toirah and Toirah. His parents had to "kasher" their kitchen for him. [I am sure that Rabbanut hechsherim were not enough]. 

Now my chinuch question is [and almost no topic interests me like chinuch]  - did his parents fail?? They raised him with certain core values that he [politely and respectfully] rejected, so maybe we can call them "failures" [with this child]. 

My answer is [without knowing anybody involved personally] NO. They didn't fail. Hashem endowed their son with a brain of his own and he used it. They did their best. Many of their values the child did adopt. The ones he rejected were not necessarily due to friction between the child and the parents [or the parents themselves] but other factors [like - what he perceives as true]. The other children turned out exactly [or almost exactly - it seems]  as planned. If they were faulty parents then shouldn't all of the children have turned out against their way?

This relates to today's post and link about everything always being the parents fault. I am skeptical.  

I would like to emphasize: Nobody has more of an effect on the child than the parents. An acrimonious relationship between parents and children is dangerous for the child's emotional and spiritual growth. If the shalom bayis isn't there between mom and dad it could be fatal for the kid. [That is why I have written on these pages in the past on the importance of a mutually satisfying sexual relationship between the parents. If one or both are being frustrated sexually it will have an adverse effect on their relationship which will in turn negatively effect the children. So you can have a teenager who is out smoking on Friday night on the corner of Avenue J, and the root cause is - and only Hashem knows this - that his father is not giving his mother the sexual satisfaction she craves or vice versa]. 

But after all is said and done there are many many factors and one cannot [generally] pin one down as being the ONLY factor. 

People have free choice. If I had negative religious experiences as a child that doesn't COMPEL me to drop it. I often think back to my own childhood. One of the Rabbeim I respected most and who cared about me most, it turns out, had an over-affinity for boys and men [thank G-d I was never on the receiving end of anything physical but others were]. Some other teachers, Rabbeim and guides also turned out to be disappointments. But I chose to keep it. So did many others. It would be a beautiful world when people took responsibility for their decisions. If as a child one cannot be expected to be discerning and emotionally aware, as an adult such a level is essential.    

So if someone had a rough childhood - get over it. We are a people that got through Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. Life isn't always easy and there are emotional scars. Lots of them in many, many cases. But as we grow we must work through them.