Baruch Hashem, it’s been almost 3 years since I began this blog, and we now have tens of thousands of subscribers. In an average week I receive over 25 emails, some with simple questions and some with very difficult ones. There are many amazing professionals that I’ve contacted for advice during this time, ranging from psychologists to Rabbonim to dieticians, and I am ever so grateful for their help.
Over the past few months, I’ve been getting many emails from kids. That’s right, your children. E-mails from nine-year olds all the way to eighteen-year olds. At first, I was hesitant to respond and possibly incur the wrath of the parents. However, after consulting with some experts, I’ve decided to respond for the next few weeks to just these e-mails.
I will not use real names, and if necessary I will modify other information. I just want everyone to appreciate the questions that children are asking. The answer to almost every question will end up including, “try to communicate with your parents and let them know how you feel.” Nevertheless, I think it’s important that we try and understand something. Many people agree that raising kids is more difficult these day, but the fact is, it’s also harder to be a kid. There is so much information being thrown at them, and some children don’t get to actually enjoy being, well, a child.
Kids, if you have any questions, please go to www.yidparenting.com and submit them. I’ll do my best to respond.
Dear Rabbi Ross. My parents read your column online every week and print the question and answer for a Shabbos table discussion. Therefore, I would like to ask for your help in printing my question with an answer that will work in my favor. My father insists that I go with him to Shacharis every Shabbos at 8:30, and I want to Daven at 9:30 in the Teen Minyan. I’m 13 years old, and I think I’ve earned the right to Daven wherever I please. My father says I’ll Daven better next to him which I don’t because I’m always annoyed, and he says that 9:30 is too late. How can I convince my father he’s wrong? Thirteen in Woodmere.
Thank you for writing in. I’m so happy that these emails are part of your Shabbos table. I want to begin by assuring you that I will not take sides. My objective is to help you think this through, not to tell you who’s wrong or right. In every instance, you need to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. It also helps to keep thing in perspective. For example, it might be worth it to make an issue about a trip to Great Adventures, but probably not about taking out the garbage.
I think it’s nice that your father wants to have you next to him on Shabbos. Personally, it gives me such Nachas to have my boys Davening next to me, and I can appreciate what your father is thinking. On the other hand, you are a “Bar Mitzvah”, and presumably deserve to daven at a different Minyan of your choice. Let’s start going through each part of your question so you can make an educated decision. When we’re done, we’ll put it all together and come up with some ideas.
It seems that you need to think everything through and make some decisions. How much do you really care about Davening at 9:30? It is worth making an issue out of this? Is it the Davening that’s bothering you, or is it the fact that your father’s not giving you the ability to do your own thing? It’s hard to have a serious conversation with your parents if you aren’t clear about the objectives yourself.
Obviously, the next step is talking to your parents. I think it’s crucial to include your mother in this discussion, since a woman’s perspective is very important. You can ask your parents to have a private discussion with them. If they ask you what it’s about, you can simply say, “Something that’s on my mind.” The reason I don’t think you should say what it’s about yet, is because your father might say, “There’s nothing to discuss”, which can make this more frustrating for you.
When talking to your parents, you must always remain calm. Getting upset easily or raising your voice won’t make this any easier. I can’t tell you exactly what to say, since each situation is unique. However, I would incorporate some of the following ideas in the conversation.
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.