Parents Should Remain Parents
By Rabbi Yeshaya Weber

Question: The mashgiach is complaining that my son doesn’t attend classes the way he ought to. He asks that we, the parents, cooperate and discuss this with my son. How should we do this and what should we say?

Answer: Parents should remain parents, and not become assistants – not to the mashgiach and not to the boy. The important role of mashgiach, executed properly, has a great influence and contributes a great deal. Parents, who are in tune with their child, have to cooperate in order to achieve the same goal the mashgiach has – not as "assistant" to the mashgiach, but as parents who personally desire the same goal.

The "b’poel," the tangible accomplishment, of the mashgiach is that the bachur actually participate in the sedarim, b’poel mamash. To be more precise, mamash b’poel. The b’poel of the parents is also to achieve the same goal, but their approach is different. The parents don’t need to carry out the same actions as the mashgiach, thereby becoming his assistants. They handle the problem with their parental tools, i.e., relating to the child and understanding him. At the same time, they have to convey the clear and unequivocal message that he has to conform to the yeshiva’s schedule and its rules.

Question: My 15-year-old son generally learns well and has no particular problems, but I’m bothered by the fact that he occasionally forgets to bentch or say brachos. He sometimes forgets to daven Mincha and Maariv, too. What should I do?

Answer: One approach is to remind him, a second approach is to ignore it, but it’s the third approach – to be proactive – that will enable the child to really change from within. For example, buying him a little siddur in which you write a personal dedication, and then quote from the Rebbe’s sichos and sayings about t’filla and its importance. Explain the reason for giving it to him, and convey to him that you are sure he wants to daven, but he gets preoccupied and distracted. There are reminders that can be used, and this is one of them.

You can ask the child to keep the siddur next to him as much as possible, or at least in a nearby spot, so that as soon as he sees it he will remember it’s time to daven or to say a bracha, and do it without delay. In conversations that can develop later, you can ask him whether he thinks the reminder is enough, or whether he needs a reminder for the reminder. Something like, "So how’s the new siddur?" or "Your new siddur misses you..."

Important Note: Parents must not count the number of times the child forgot to daven, but the number of times he remembered to say a bracha or daven. This will reinforce the matter they are striving towards.

The source of forgetting or not being particular comes from deep in the nefesh, as it’s explained in Chassidus. The reasons for spiritual sicknesses definitely can be a result of an inner casting off of the yoke, but the parents’ role is not to analyze it and explain the weakness to their child, but on the contrary, to strengthen him and implant kabbalas ol in him by supporting him, reminders being just one way.

With Hashem’s help, "a little light will dispel a great deal of darkness." As the Rebbe says, "One good action is better than a thousand sighs."

The child needs his parents’ approval and wants to know they accept him. It’s important to him to know what they think of him. When he knows they accept him as he is, and approve of him for his positive efforts and think he’s a good child who tries and makes an effort, he will be ready to prove that they do indeed view him correctly. If, chalila, it’s the opposite, he will try to prove they are right in that case, too.

Whenever the child needs approval, support, or a reminder, the parents’ approach must be to take positive action, in thought, speech, or action, or in all three; not to give up, not to sigh, not to get upset. To do something b’poel mamash, and to get the child to do something b’poel mamash.

The bachur’s inner work will be done when the time comes, when he is ready for it, both on his own and with the mashpia he chooses.


Parents should remain parents, and not become assistants, not to the mashgiach and not to the boy.


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