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 June 2, 2005 /24 Iyar, 5765

This is a promise, not a threat

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was only the first hole, but already the bickering on the mini golf course was intense. My son, exhibiting the hypercompetitive nature that wins games but annoys other people, took on the responsibility to coach his younger sister on her putting technique.

"That's not how you do it," he said impatiently.

"I can do it any way I want," she argued.

"You're doing it wrong," he said.

"Who made you the golf police?" she countered.

This exchange was going nowhere, not to mention that they both held putters in hand, ready to employ as weapons at any moment. "Enough," I shouted. "If I hear one more fight between the two of you, you're toast."

What it means to be "toast" isn't entirely clear, but they eased up a bit. They know me well enough to assume I'll come up with some miserable consequence, like sending them ahead to play the last few holes together — alone — where the rest of the family doesn't have to hear them fight. "Toast" is vague enough to keep me from having to act, which makes it an all-purpose worst outcome.

The problem with making threats to children while in a fit of parental frustration is that you have to remember what you said you' do, and then later, when your children don't live up to your standards of behavior, you have to follow through and do it.

I've learned a lot about making threats in my 15 years as a parent. First, I've learned that there are just two kinds of threats — the kind you'll never carry out and the kind you must. For example, when I find mountains of shoes piled on the landing by the back door instead of stored in the baskets where they belong, I threaten to burn all the shoes in our possession and force my children into a barefoot existence.

When they leave toys all over the house, I say I'm going to donate their stuff to charity and force them to play with lint from the dryer.

When they waste food, I threaten to serve cereal for every meal.

They don't really expect to be shoeless, toyless cereal eaters. What they expect instead is to endure a lengthy lecture laced with horrible punishments that sound unenforceable and unlikely.

On the other hand, I also have learned there are some threats you absolutely must make good on or risk losing any semblance of parental authority. These are the kind I really hate because, invariably, following through is more difficult for me than for my children.

Case in point: the girls' bedroom. My two older daughters — both teens — share a room that resembles a landfill. The clothes we spend hours choosing at the mall become wrinkled balls of fabric in the corners. Those would be the clean clothes. Inexplicably, the dirty clothes often are hung — askew — on hangers in the closet.

Towels are single-use items, stored after each shower in wet piles where they ferment into mildewed stench bombs.

Their bathroom sink stores everything they need to be beautiful: hairbrushes, makeup, razors, dental floss (used), blobs of toothpaste, tops of empty shampoo bottles, bowls from yesterday's ice cream, someone's English homework, a hammer (a hammer?).

Not long ago, on a rare visit to this condemned corner of our abode, I took a stand. "Let's get one thing straight: This is not your house. This house belongs to Dad and me, and you only live here out of our benevolent generosity. When you own a house, you may choose to live like slobs, but as long as you live under our roof ..." — blah, blah, blah. If you're a parent, you can fill in the rest.

In the midst of my tirade, I made a new threat. I said they had the remainder of the school year to prove they understood the house rules about clean bedrooms. If I didn't see an improvement, I'd switch their room with their younger sister's — a much smaller space not really suited for two teenage girls.

"It would be cramped and cluttered, but at least I'd have a smaller mess to endure when I walk past your door."

I don't really want to spend a weekend moving furniture, nor do I want to force my younger daughter to relinquish the only pink space in the house.

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Every time I stick my head into the teenagers' room and see an unmade bed or a pile of clean laundry that didn't make it into a dresser, I wish I hadn't threatened the bedroom switch because it looks as if I'm going to have to actually do it. Worse yet, changing rooms probably won't cause my teens to adopt an organized lifestyle anyway.

Fortunately, at the end of my monologue on housekeeping, I remembered to throw in this little maternal gem: "And another thing — I reserve the right to change this punishment at any time if I decide some other consequence would be more effective — like moving you both to the garage."

It's the threat they know I won't fulfill — the empty promise — that gives them another chance to improve their behavior.

Then again, one night in the garage can't hurt them. I could throw some sleeping bags out there between the van and the bicycles and tuck them in with a reminder not to trip over the basketballs if they come in during the night to use the bathroom.

Lucky for my girls, the last time I visited their bedroom, it was spotless.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 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.


© 2005, Marybeth Hicks