Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review April 25, 2001 / 3 Iyar 5761

Anti-Semites everywhere?; shilling for gifts;
my kid is the 'weakest link'

By Wendy Belzberg -- My 10 year-old daughter has started wearing the Star of David necklace I bought her in Israel. I live in a small city with few Jews. When I bought the necklace I didn't consider that she might wear it all of the time and I am now worried she may be taunted. Should I explain my fears to her? I don't want her to grow up as a "hidden Jew," but she is too young to have to deal with narrow-minded bigots. Do I ask her not to wear the necklace to school? How can I handle this in a sensitive way?

While your daughter may indeed encounter some prejudice, it's also possible that people may pleasantly surprise you. As you acknowledge that these are your fears, you must now keep yourself from projecting those fears on to your daughter. If you need to do something proactive, prepare and practice the speech you will deliver if a situation does arise. I can guarantee that you will one day have to deliver that speech to your daughter, possibly when you least expect to. But putting your daughter on guard could become a self-fulfilling prophecy or-even worse-take away her joy in her necklace and her heritage.

What is your opinion of pre-nuptial showers? I have always felt they are used as a socially acceptable way of shilling for gifts.
                         —   A future Mother-in-law

Shilling for gifts has a time-honored history. Just think of birthdays and anniversaries. In this case you happen to be performing a real service-setting up the newly-weds in their new home. In which, I might add, they will remember you every time they use your gift. If you are prepared to be a purist and to forego all future birthday and anniversary gifts yourself, by all means, boycott the showers. Otherwise, I'd start shopping.

We have three children whom we adore. Two of the three are great students. The third hovers somewhere in the lower percentage of the class. Is it fair to have lower expectations of one child than we do of the others? And how would we do so without signaling to our daughter that we don't think her as bright as her siblings?

Your daughter may not be as academically gifted or inclined as your other children, but that does not necessarily make her any less bright. However, equating the two-academic performance and IQ-makes me wonder just a little about you.

Would you be struggling with the same "dilemma" if one of your children didn't like to swim or, no matter how hard he tried, couldn't dunk a basketball? Your children are entirely different people and your expectations should be adjusted accordingly. If doing so means you view your third child as "less than" the other two, your feelings will be obvious to all of your children.

Your expectations don't make for healthy, happy children. Their self-confidence does. It's your job to help your daughter find her way into a realm in which she will excel and flourish. Don't write her off too fast.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

04/05/01: Celebrating when Passover is inconvenient; What's wrong with the name 'Melvyn,'?; Difference dilemma: Husbands and wives and Passover observance levels
03/19/01: 7-4=insensitivity?; baby showers and tempting fate; Splitsville before or after marriage?
03/12/01: Passover party-pooper; slapped by a moral dilemma
02/14/01: Human 'mutts,' getting over it, same-sex kesubas
02/08/01: Bar/bat mitzvah blues, homework he-l, from potty to potty-mouth
01/24/01: Naughty neighbor, unprofessional colleague is dead, I'm a Jew, now what?
01/15/01: Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies
01/08/01: My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?
01/02/01: A Jewish Grinch? Baby bigots and when grandparents call it quits
12/18/00: Babes in Chanukah Land; my husband the kvetch; bad hair marriage?
12/04/00: My niece is a no-goodnik, when lifecycle events become dangerous, Orthodox v. Reform education
11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
11/21/00: Battling brothers; how to keep a nanny
11/08/00: OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy
11/08/00: Rabbi v. therapist, grandparents bearing gifts, I want my son's teacher for a sister-in-law
10/24/00: Let him enlist?, 'My son the actor'? Eating with the 'help'
10/10/00:Tipsy teens, protective spouses, kosher common-sense
10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
09/25/00: I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate
09/18/00: 'My kids' Jewish education stinks', boyfriend bandit, and single mother not by choice
09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
09/05/00: Righteous anger, 'dissed' daughter --- and how not to make a match
08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
08/14/00: Marrying 'in' for questionable motivations; Should a do-gooder be reimbursed?
08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
07/21/00: When a child takes religion seriously, marriage obsession, and guests who just don't get it
07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2001, Wendy Belzberg