In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 20, 2007 / 2 Iyar, 5767

In my book, words right and wrong aren't gray

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I was reminded the other day of that old parenting adage: Just when you think you've done a great job of teaching your children right from wrong, someone will ask for a ride to the bookstore to drink smoothies and read books for free.

Here's what happened:

Betsy: "Mom, can I go to Barnes and Noble?"

Me: "Do you need to buy a book?"

Betsy: "No. I just sit in one of the easy chairs and read while I'm there. I figure after about four trips to the store, I can read an entire book so I don't need to actually buy it."

Me: "Ack."

Betsy: "What's the problem?"

Me: "What do you mean, 'What's the problem?' That's stealing."

Betsy: "How is that stealing?"

You get the idea.

On the one hand, I have to say I'm glad my daughter loves to read, but maybe I should suggest a book or two on morals.

"It's not like I'm breaking the spine or anything," she argues. This isn't the point, but I have to admit I'm relieved.

I don't know where to start, so I try the golden rule. "How do you suppose those authors would feel knowing you are enjoying their work but you're not willing to pay for it?"

"They probably would feel great," she says. "At least they'd know how much I like their books."

"And what about the bookstore owners? How do you think they feel about people who come in to read but won't spend any money in the store?"

"Hey," she says defensively, "I'm getting a snack. There's money involved."

"Look," I explain, "authors write books to make a living. The fact that you're ordering a frappaccino and a scone from the bookstore's coffee shop doesn't mean cash flows into the pockets of the people whose work you're enjoying for free."

She's not convinced. "Forget it," I finally say, "but you're not going to the bookstore. I'll drop you off at the library. You remember the library, right? The place where people borrow books for free?"

Betsy thinks we've hit on a "gray area" — a moral question that could be argued either way. She defends her integrity and reminds me she's a really nice girl.

I allow as how she's a perfectly nice girl, but I don't agree about the "gray area."

A gray area is whether I have an obligation to march my daughter into the bookstore and make her purchase a book she has nearly finished reading surreptitiously on frequent visits to the fiction section.

I'm probably not obligated, but a lifetime of Catholic guilt at least raises the question.

The problem is, in our culture, nearly every issue lands in the proverbial "gray area." Generally, there aren't many absolutes left in this world, and there sure aren't any moral absolutes. Except relativism. That's absolute.

In fact, I've noticed even the word "morality" seems to get a bad rap. Being "moral" is something people are accused of as if it's akin to selling snake oil.

Call someone a "moralist" or say they're "moralizing" and watch the response you'll get.

"How dare you. I would never moralize. I would not impose my morals on someone else." Of course, they're standing on moral high ground when they say this, but don't mention that. It only generates a circular argument.

As a culture, we need to remember that morals are not viruses. Not only will a good, solid set of morals stand one in good stead, they might even help you build a nice home library.

Suddenly at the end of our debate, I realize why Betsy is confused about the moral question at hand. I never actually used the only two words that would help her understand the context in which she needs to evaluate her behavior: right and wrong.

When teaching children how to decide what's moral, we can't confuse them with emotions. "How would someone else feel?" isn't a valid moral compass. Feelings are fluid — they change from person to person and day to day. Not only that, but feelings are projected easily and not accurately understood. How often do we say to someone, "You shouldn't feel that way"? Who are we to decide?

As teaching tools, the words right and wrong are underrated. Come to think of it, so are good and bad. And while I'm at it, I think the word nice ought to be banished from the universal parenting dictionary — anyone can be nice, after all. (Heck, even felons are nice to the people they love.)

Doing right and being good are signs you have internalized a moral code that guides your behavior and judgment.

Being nice means ... well ... it means you're nice. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm mulling over these thoughts as I recast my argument in the whole reading-a-book-in-a-bookstore debate.

Me: "Betsy, it's wrong to read a book in a bookstore that you haven't paid for and have no intention of buying."

Betsy: "Oh."

See how much easier and more efficient that is?

Children crave clarity. Betsy craves clarity and books, which is not a bad thing, come to think of it.

I'm somewhat chagrined that this conversation even needed to take place. I would have thought by now that she knew the difference between perusing and consuming.

Then again, the fact that we had the conversation strikes me as a moral victory — or at least a victory for morality, which in my mind is a darn good thing.

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"The Perfect World Inside My Minivan -- One mom's journey through the streets of suburbia"  

Marybeth Hicks offers readers common-sense wisdom in dealing with today's culture. Her anecdotes of her husband and four children tap into universal themes that every parent can relate to and appreciate. -- Wesley Pruden, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Times
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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 19 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2006, Marybeth Hicks