Rabbi Ross. I’m a 14-year-old boy with a bad secret. I’ve betrayed my parent’s trust over the past year, and they don’t know about it. Yom Kippur is fast approaching and I’m wondering what I should do. If I apologize to them, they’re going to want to know what I did wrong. I don’t want to tell them. Should I just Daven that they should forgive me? Name Redacted – Baysawater
You are bringing up an interesting question. I heard a story about a man who approached a certain Gadol asking forgiveness. When the Gadol asked what for, he said he was too embarrassed to say. The Gadol replied, “Without knowing what you did, I can’t forgive you.
True Teshuva has four main parts according to the Rambam. Understanding what you did wrong, having genuine regret, apologizing sincerely, and not doing the sin again. You mentioned that you betrayed their trust, which means you understand what you did was wrong and you regret doing it. I’m hoping that you won’t do this Aveira again. The only part you’re missing is the apology.
You might be correct in assuming your parents would want to know what you did wrong. It might even be important that they should know, since they can help you make sure that you don’t do it again. I know it seems to kids that parents are always telling them what they shouldn’t do, but that’s because they love you and want to protect you.
In your case, I agree that you have a difficult decision to make. I would suggest that you speak to either your Rav or any other adult that you and your parents trust. Tell them what you did and ask them if they think you need to tell your parents or not. It sounds like you are worried about this, and it’s not good for a boy your age to shoulder this burden alone.
Another thing I would suggest, is to really be on your best behavior for the next few weeks. Help out at home as much as possible, and make sure you’re doing your school work properly. I’m sure that after a few weeks of this, your parents will be very impressed with you. If you haven’t discussed it with them yet, this would be a great time to unburden yourself.
You can tell them that you made a mistake a while back and you’re not comfortable discussing it. Tell them you regret what you did and won’t make this mistake again. At this time, you can ask forgiveness for betraying their trust. And remember, although Yom Kippur is a day of atonement, you can ask forgiveness any day of the year.
Wishing you Hatzlacha and the strength to make the right decisions.
Have an easy fast.
Baruch Hashem, this blog/advice column has been growing tremendously. I want to wish all of you a wonderful year of Bracha and Hatzlacha – and most importantly, Nachas from your children. Although we’re in middle of a “Kids writing in” campaign, I wanted to take a break for the Yomim Tovim. Here are some updated Rosh Hashana tips. Enjoy!
Many of us have wonderful memories from when we were children. Try to give your kids some amazing memories as well. Even if the chazzan doesn’t know the correct Niggun or the Rav speaks a bit longer than you would like, keep an upbeat attitude so your children can have a positive experience.
Try and keep everything age appropriate, whenever possible. Five-year-old children might not sit through multiple Simanim, and Fourteen-year olds may not want to sing “Dip the Apple”. Another example is Divrei Torah. If your older child is sharing a two-page Dvar Torah, it might not be a bad idea to excuse the younger kids for a few minutes.
Seating arguments? Who should clear the table? It’s not worth getting aggravated. Do your very best to keep all the kids happy – even if they’re not being reasonable. Remember, trying new fruits is not a Halacha – don’t force your children to eat them (like starfruit or carob). Additionally, you can make it into a game or challenge by guessing what they’ll taste like before you pass it around. One mother shared that she dices up many different fruits and has the kids guess which one they’re eating.
Try and be as prepared as possible during the meals to make everything seem more exciting. Once they are waiting for the honey to be passed around, or the apples to be sliced, they start to lose interest.
Davening is very long during the Yomim Noraim. Instead of bringing your kids for the whole Tefila, set up a time that you will drop them off. I have always believed that it’s better for a mother to Daven at home with the kids, than to Daven in Shul while letting them run around. It’s also a good idea for the mother to let the children know (if they are able to understand) when she is about to daven Shemoneh Esrai and that she won’t be able to talk until she’s done.
The Artscroll Rosh Hashana Machzor is wonderful and helps children gain an understanding of some of the important Tefillos. Reading through Nesanah Tokef with your children is a wonderful way to make the Davening more meaningful.
Although hearing the Shofar in Shul is preferable, bringing your little children and shushing them can be counter-productive. Most shuls have a later Shofar blowing for women.
There’s a reason why children should not be drinking alcoholic beverages. It’s not safe. I’m not talking about some wine with Kiddush, I’m talking about the social drinking during the meal. I don’t even think it’s a good idea to pretend to give them alcohol (putting grape juice in the wine bottle).
This one is for the dads. Most of the women I know are frantically preparing for Yom Tov by shopping, cooking, cleaning, shopping, cooking, watching kids and shopping. When Rosh Hashana finally arrives, it’s their chance to sit back and relax a little. We can tell our children, “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s help clean the table or serve, so Mommy can also relax for a few minutes!” What a great way to begin the year!
This one is for the moms. I’ve heard from a few mothers, that they let each child choose a favorite dish to be served on Yom Tov. This allows them to be involved in the meals and helps them look forward to the Seudos.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful and meaningful Yom Tov, and a K’siva Vachasima Tova!
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.