Is there a problem with my children coming into our bedroom? My wife feels that it’s inappropriate, and her parents never let that happen. My parents always let me and my siblings hang out in their room, and it was therapeutic. We considered it a safe area. Of course, we always knocked before entering, but once allowed permission we loved going in. We have 2 young children and want to resolve this before they get older. What do you think? Ephraim – Flatbush
I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. Some families are very strict about this, and others don’t really care.
I’ve always felt that dealing with family customs in marriage is like going to a new shul for the Yomim Noraim. When the Chazzan starts Davening, some guests feel that he’s doing all the wrong tunes, and others that his Nussach is completely incorrect. The regular Mispalilim might love it, however, the guests and newcomers are frequently perturbed. Marriage works in a similar way. As the years progress, you’ll notice certain things that are completely foreign to you that your spouse finds 100% normal. It’s up to the two of you to work together to find common ground or be Mevater (concede).
There is a typical compromise for the situation that you brought up. There are families that don’t allow the kids to enter their bedroom unless they’re sick (or have had a nightmare etc). This way, the children understand that typically the room is off-limits, but it’s also a safe place.
You brought up a few other points in your email that I would like to discuss.
1) You mentioned knocking before entering your parent’s room. Actually, kids should be taught to always knock before entering any room that they walk into. Chazal discuss some reasons behind this, and amongst them is the fact that Hashem first asked Adam, “Where are you?” before He entered Gan Eden. This is a wonderful concept to teach your children. Before entering their bedrooms, give a soft knock, and you’ll quickly train them to do the same.
2) I especially enjoyed the fact that you want to resolve any questions before your children get older. Many couples make the mistake of confronting these issues as they come up. The Chofetz Chaim was once asked when to begin chinuch for children. He replied that it’s best to begin before the child is born. Obviously, it’s a little late for that in your case. Nonetheless, it’s admirable that you both want to be prepared for when they get older, and it’s a smart decision.
3) You and your wife should always strive to be on the “same page” when raising your children. Many of the emails I receive constantly use the word “I”, and you used “We” – which is as it should be. With all of the distractions that children deal with on a daily basis, a stable household is crucial. Parents should do their very best to ensure that they are in agreement in all areas of Chinuch. How much, and what kind of electronics the kids can use, how they’ll dress, and even issues as basic as bedtimes. As long as the two of you work together, it’ll be a lot easier.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,
Dear Rabbi Ross. Like many other people, I have been reading your column for a few years. There are times that I disagree with your thoughts, but by and large I like to think we’re on the same page. My question concerns my husband. He has a horrible temper, and frequently says or does things that are, to say the least, regrettable. We have four wonderful children, and although the oldest is only eleven, I worry about what will happen to them. Will they also develop his temper? Will they blame me for not intervening on their behalf? I really can’t stop him when he’s out of control. L. S. – Flatbush
I usually respond privately to these types of emails. Unfortunately, I have recently received a couple of similar questions and that is one of the criteria I use in selecting which e-mails to respond to in my weekly article. Therefore, somewhat against my better judgment, I’m going to reply to this question publicly.
Your email, like all the other ones on this topic, is missing a lot of crucial information. Nonetheless, I’m imagining that your spouse is a normal, fun person until something sets him off. I’m saying “him”, but it could also be the mother with the temper. However, in the interest of keeping this as simple as possible, let’s keep this about the husband.
First and foremost, you didn’t write what he does when he gets angry. If you ever feel that you’re in danger, you need to call Shalom Task Force at 888-883-2323. It’s completely confidential, and they can help you. There is no excuse for violence or abuse. This is the one time that I won’t suggest that you call your Rav. If you don’t get the help you need, you’re not only risking your own life, but the lives of your children!
As I’ve mentioned a few times over the years, I’m not a psychologist. I’m not sure how to deal with him or what to say to him. I would think that any discussion you have with him should be when he’s in a good mood and not feeling threatened. Then again, the real question is, does he want to change? The reason I ask, is because children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. If he doesn’t really try working on himself, it won’t be very helpful. I have seen parents apologize for yelling, but then they yell again a day later. Your children see right through this.
You asked, “Will they also develop his temper?” Most children that have tempers begin to display them at a younger age. If your children are already anywhere from seven and up, maybe you got lucky and your children were not affected yet. However, I’m guessing that they will end up being affected one way or another. Here are my thoughts about what you can and cannot do.
Have a good Shabbos.
Rabbi Ross. Thank you for all the work you put in to this blog. I’m having an issue, not with my children, but with other children. In Shul on Shabbos, there are many kids outside of the shul during davening or laining or the speech, and these kids range anywhere from 5 to 16 years old. They talk the whole time and it’s just wrong. What can I tell these children to convince them to daven inside the shul? Eliyahu – Location Redacted
The short answer is nothing. They are not your children, and therefore it’s not your job to get involved. If you really want to help, you can go to the Rav and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Maybe the Shul can hire someone to run a teen Minyan or youth groups if you don’t already have them. You can assist in making those arrangements by either securing the necessary finances or helping with the logistics.
I’m actually not a huge fan of youth groups, but if the kids are roaming the hallways, it’s certainly important to have structure. There are many Shuls that teach the children how to be “Chazzanim”, as well as the Halachos of Laining, Hagbah, Gelila and much more. Although children who Daven in Shul every Shabbos generally learn these skills, there are some children who can gain a great deal from these younger minyanim. To be brutally honest, there are also some children that should not be sitting (or fidgeting) next to their parents in Shul. In all these situations, a youth minyan is a great option.
The situation that you described, is unfortunately, a common one is certain communities. One of the reasons that I redacted the location that you provided, was that I felt it might constitute Lashon Hara. Most Shuls don’t have this issue, but there are a few in each community where this is, unfortunately, common. One father told me recently, “At least they’re in shul. It’s a step in the right direction.”
I respectfully disagree. It is certainly NOT a step in the right direction. You have your fourteen-year-old son spending most of the Shabbos davening outside in the hallway, loudly talking with his friends. There are those that would suggest it would be better if he stayed at home. I have mixed feelings about it, but parents should not be “OK” with the situation. I know I’m heading into dangerous territory here, but I don’t think the Rav of these shuls should ignore the situation either.
In order to deal with this serious issue, the community needs to approach it from three angles.
Hopefully, we can all work together to ensure that our children understand the importance of Davening in the Shul like the B’nai Torah they are.
Have a good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.