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,
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.