Monday, January 10, 2011

Balanced parenting

Today is the 5th day of Shebat , 5771

Honoring parents is one of the most important Mitzvot of the Torah.
Children are commanded to respect, obey and honor their parents.

From the other side, parents are advised to inspire their children to respect and care of them, behaving toward them in an honorable and affectionate way. Parents are expected to build a relationship with their children balancing 'authority' with 'love'. When one of these two elements is not there, the relationship will turn into a dysfunctional one.

The rabbis offered some guidelines and examples on how to maintain this delicate balance.

A parent should not be extremely demanding with his children, imposing on them duties they won't be able to perform. Because in this way his children will be involuntarily forced to transgress the Mitzvah of respecting and obeying one's parents.

A parent is also advised to inspire respect (yir-ah) without imposing fear (pachad) in his home. Unlike respect-balanced-with-love, fear is recognized when a son or a daughter would be terrified to tell his or her parent about a mistake he or she made. If a son does not feel comfortable talking to his parents about a mistake he made, the possibility of a healthy dialogue is compromised. The Rabbis explain that 'respect' based on intimidation is a formula for long-term serious problems within the family. (The same is true for husband and wife).

(From Yalkut Yosef, Kibbud Ab vaEm, Bet, 317-325)




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The Delicate Balance
Love and Authority in Torah Parenting by Sarah Chana Radcliffe

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(See www.targum.com or your local Jewish bookstore)




Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024