Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review / Nov. 14, 2000 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761


OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy


By Wendy Belzberg

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- Our 22 year-old son has gone through a series of "lifestyles." Recently, when he was traveling in Israel, he visited one of the yeshivas by the Western Wall and has been studying there ever since. How do I explain to him that his lifestyle as a practicing Jew is just one more phase?

You have communicated to me in just 3 sentences that you think your son is a flake. I can only imagine how your son feels about himself after living with you for 22 years.

Whether your son's commitment to live as an Orthodox Jew is a long-term commitment or not, he deserves your respect for the choice he has made. As your child, he needs your support and reassurance; as an adult he merits your trust and respect. You may not agree with his choices or his path, but your dismissive tone only serves to undermine further his ability to stick with anything.

As a way of life, Orthodox Judaism has demonstrated real staying power. If this is another phase, however, count your blessings; have you ever heard of the Hare Krishna?

* * *

My ex-husband and I have joint custody of our 2 children. He is remarried to a woman with 2 children of her own. My two children do not get along with her 2 children. My ex-husband wants our children to go into family therapy with his new wife and children so they can "all get along and our children can fit into his new family."

Did you and your ex-husband ever see a therapist to help you get along? How did that turn out?

Sending your children into family therapy with someone else's family will succeed in making them feel like there is something wrong with them when, in fact, it is your ex, his new wife and you who have failed. You and your ex-husband never learned to get along and you had a legal contract binding you together. Why should the children? It would be nice if the 4 step-siblings were friends, but there is no law that says they have to be.

The divorces were about what was best for the grown-ups. Placing your children in family therapy so they can get along with their "new family" is just more of the same. Give all 4 children time and space to adjust and heal. Haven't they already paid a high enough price?


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© 2000, Wendy Belzberg