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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 August 23, 2006 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5766

Mom admits to causing dysfunctional cycle to continue

By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski


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A mother of 11 offers a reversal strategy


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It seems that most of my friends and I grew up in dysfunctional homes. I am now married with four children ages 4 months to 6 years old, who all end up screaming at me if I don't do what they want right away. I think they learned the screaming from me. This is how they communicate because this was how I was communicated to as a child. I would like to have a healthy relationship with my children and want to stop this cycle of screaming. I would appreciate receiving some pointers from you on how to deal properly with my children. I tell myself not to get angry and in the meantime a bubble of anger and impatience slowly boils inside until I blow up. I know I'm doing something wrong and would love some advice.


Dysfunction has been defined as the state of affairs when there is a group of more than one person.

For starters, it is important to note that we are not doomed to perpetuate dysfunction or negative ways of interacting. We can, decisively, with the requisite effort, choose to break the cycle. There is a wonderful comment by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch regarding the Almighty's marching orders to Abraham upon his initiation as the first Patriarch of the Jewish people. He was commanded to "go, leave your land, your birthplace, and your father's home."

Rabbi Hirsch posits that in order to build a Jewish world, it was necessary for Abraham to:

  • 1. Leave his land, his country, his society, and its decadent culture.

  • 2. Leave his birthplace, its cultural assumption of being locked into genetics and heredity.

    The Jewish view is that while we may have predispositions, we also have the wherewithal and the free choice to get beyond them and make our own decisions.

    And finally,

  • 3. His father's home refers to the way he was raised in his family of origin. Abraham was instructed that it was imperative to abandon the destructive approaches of his own upbringing and to cultivate in their stead constructive modalities to raise his own offspring. The Torah [Bible] records this road map as a guide for all of us, the descendants of Abraham.


Dealing with four little ones under the age of 6 can be a daunting task under the best of circumstances. I would recommend that you, my dear reader, not be so quick to judge yourself harshly. If you and your family can make it through the day intact, you're doing great.

As for bruised egos and the concern of scarring children for life, my rule of thumb (perhaps it was rationalization for survival's sake) was balance. Simultaneous with the goal to constantly upgrade my coping skills, I deliberately tried to offset any negative outbursts and overreactions by compensating for them with equally passionate and sincere expressions of love and positive effects such as compliments and boundless hugs and kisses. The good news is, thank G-d, despite my many mistakes, my children, for the most part, turned out great.

A helpful tool is to imagine a higher power dispatching an angel to videotape our response to the given situation. This tool can shape our attitude and moderate our reaction. Whether it's sliding on the kitchen floor courtesy of the spilled juice, the scattered Cheerios or the many little hands tugging at us all at once, a major shift takes place when we become aware and conscious that we are not alone and are being observed. Instead of "blowing it," we can, with a bit [maybe a lot!] of self-control, turn it into a moment of "profiles in courage."

Another tool is to disengage oneself (perhaps with just the infant in hand) and spend a brief few moments alone in another room.

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This might help to gain perspective, compose oneself, and avoid a major eruption (variations of the counting to 10 approach).

While there are many wonderful books on the subject of parenting, I believe every parent needs to keep the following four fundamentals in mind:


  • 1. We are always the models for our children. They are constantly watching and observing us very carefully. They register our every behavior and response — especially when we are under stress.

    The Mishnah teaches that there are three ways to really know the truth about a person's character:

    a. How does one act when he is angry?

    b. How does one relate to spending money?

    c. How does one behave when under the influence of alcohol, or what, in fact, intoxicates and thrills a person?

    We transmit values to our children by what registers high on our emotional Richter scale. Is it a bad mark on the report card or being mean to another child? Is it crayon marks on the wall or beating up a sibling?

    What intoxicates and exhilarates us? Is it the joy of a friend or a beautiful dress? For what are we willing to dish out money?

    Charity to the poor or redecorating the house? A new car? Designer clothes? Something to enhance the Shabbos table?

    At a lecture a woman once asked me how she could transmit the skills to cope with the inevitable challenges in life to her children.

    The obvious response was that by the way we handle our own life's issues when we are stressed and overwhelmed conveys the message loud and clear.

  • 2. Don't underestimate the value of staying home and doing your own parenting, regardless of the times you fall short of the excellence you would like to bring to this sacred trust. My most precious memories of childhood centered on the knowledge that my mother could always be found in the kitchen. It made us feel that there was nothing more important in my mother's life than caring for us.

    Parenthetically, my mother didn't sit on the floor and play games with us or give us endless undivided attention, but she was there if we needed her and we knew where we could find her.

    Of course in today's world not every woman can be a-stay-athome mother. I have advised women who go to work to be very vigilant about the excitement they exhibit when coming home to their children. The message needs to be that they work in order to come home and not that they need to discharge their responsibilities at home in order to go to work. Implicitly and explicitly, home has to resound as the clear and unchallenged priority.

  • 3. We need to be on a constant lookout to catch our children doing something right. The tendency is to take appropriate behavior for granted and comment only on the negative. Training ourselves to notice the positive and to give positive feedback on those occasions can be a behavior-altering experience for them. We can go a step further and not only compliment them but let them hear us tell a friend about it.

    To this day, I recall overhearing my father, of blessed memory, talking late at night to his best friend. He extolled my virtues and spoke about how special I was to him. That moment gave me a wonderful, positive sense of self and strength that I have drawn on until this very day. There is no motivation more powerful than being treasured, respected, and held in high esteem. We are loath to disappoint the good opinion others have of us, most especially those of our parents who know us best.

  • 4. Finally, a great rabbi once said that the key factors in raising good children are 50 percent prayers for strength and Heavenly assistance and 50 percent "shalom bayis" — peace in the home between husband and wife. A psychologist recently noted that in his practice, teenagers are commonly brought into his office by their parents to deal with their acting out, chutzpah, and lack of respect toward their parents, siblings, and others. Invariably, he commented, that teenagers say to him, "Ask our parents how they interact with each other."

    He concluded that in his experience, lack of respect of the children is most often a mirror image of what is happening in the home. Too many of the couples I counsel are so consumed by the demands of their children that the need to work on the spousal relationship is all but forgotten.

    Jewish tradition teaches that the focal point of the home must be the husband and wife — Mommy and Daddy. Children should be taught from the very start, that as important as they are, attention to one's spouse comes first. Knowing that Mommy and Daddy are there for each other, first and foremost, with respect, love, and caring infuses the children with a wonderful sense of well-being and confidence, as well as setting the example for the entire family.

    I would encourage you, my dear reader, to network with friends who are experiencing this stage in life. There is no "one size fits all" solution but shared insights and tidbits can, at times, be helpful.

From my vantage point, looking back, my urging to you is that even as you struggle to do your best, don't miss out on the beauty.

Even though you may not believe it, this stage goes by real fast and is no more than a memory all too soon. Sneak into your children's room at night when they are asleep and angelic looking, and thank G-d for the blessing even as you pray for the strength to do right by them.

Cookie and Baila, our oldest daughters, were born 14 months apart. I remember tiptoeing into their room one night, turning to my husband and saying, "Can you imagine that someday they will talk to each other and be good friends?" We blinked twice and today both are grandmothers!

Hang in there — the best is yet to come.


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Rebbetzin Feige Twerski of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has devoted her life to Jewish education and Outreach, giving lectures worldwide on a myriad of Judaic subjects. She is a mother of 11 children, and many grandchildren whose number she refuses to divulge. She serves as the Rebbetzin along side her husband, Rabbi Michel Twerski, of Congregation Beth Jehudah of Milwaukee. Comment by clicking here.

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