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 18, 2005 / 9 Nisan, 5765

Where did our sweet boy go?

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My beloved Caleb,

I used to think I had this fatherhood thing down pat. For your first five or six years, you were such a charming and lovable kid — friendly, bright, cheerful, and affectionate — that I imagined Mama and I must be doing everything right. I figured we were natural born parents, the way other people are natural born pianists or natural born first basemen.

But then — quite to my surprise and dismay — the sweet and lively Caleb we were so pleased to take all the credit for was abducted by aliens and replaced with a sulky, sarcastic grouch we didn't recognize. Over the course of the past year, Mama and I have repeatedly found ourselves wondering: Who are you, and what have you done with our son?

OK, maybe that's putting it a little strongly. You're still a terrific child, and most of the time it's a joy to be your father. I'm delighted by your interests and enthusiasms, from your voracious reading to your growing strength as a swimmer. I treasure the fact that you're still innocent enough to thoroughly enjoy a ''Winnie the Pooh" movie, yet sophisticated enough to play chess and make up your own crossword puzzles. I savor the moments we spend learning together. And even if I can't always come up with one on the spot, I like being asked for a story almost every time we go for a walk.

Most wonderful of all this past year has been watching you get the hang of your new role as a big brother. When we adopted Micah a year ago, there was no way to know how you would react to the presence of a young sibling. I can't tell you how happy it makes us to see what a devoted, generous brother you've become. I love how willingly you play with Micah and how readily you make him laugh — and judging from his eagerness to be with you, he obviously loves it too.

But as splendid as you so often are, Caleb, you can also be quite awful. At times your manner is shockingly disrespectful. You mimic Mama and make faces when I scold you. You respond to criticism by laughing or rolling your eyes, or you mutter ''Whatever" with all the disdain at your command. You get surly or angry and snap at us rudely — you've even written poison-pencil notes and left them for us to find (''I hate you. You're a bad mother.") If I didn't know you had just turned 8, I'd think you were going on 14. Behavior like this I wasn't expecting till you hit adolescence. If this is the way you act in second grade, what are you going to be like in high school?

I wish I knew what was causing this acting out. Is it a subconscious reaction to the arrival of your brother? The bad influence of certain kids in school? An unavoidable symptom of belonging to the species homo sapiens? All three, I suppose. Especially the last. As one experienced mother — mine — likes to say, children don't have to be taught how to hit, bite, lie, sneak, or talk back. They have to be taught not to.

And that, I am realizing much more vividly than I used to, is easier said than done.

When I was your age, discipline consisted mostly of spanking and the threat of being spanked, and on the whole I'd say that my siblings and I turned out all right. But I've discovered that I really don't like hitting as a form of punishment — lashing out in anger makes me feel like a bully, and it doesn't feel good to bully someone I love. I don't want you to grow up in fear, behaving well only because you're afraid of getting hurt if you don't. Nor do I want you to learn from my example that the way to express anger is to hurt someone else.

But Mama and I do want you to learn that bad behavior leads to bad consequences — just as we often use incentives and rewards to teach you that good behavior leads to good consequences. So we cast about for more effective forms of discipline. When you insult a teacher or a babysitter, we make you write a letter of apology. When you act crudely at mealtime, we send you away from the table. For other offenses you've had to write punishment sentences, or lost the use of a toy, or been sent to bed 30 minutes early. Once, appalled to learn that you had punched and hurt a girl in your class, we invoked the ''nuclear option" — one week of not being allowed to read for pleasure. It felt sacrilegious to use reading in that way, but you haven't hit anyone since.

When I was 8, it was obvious to me that discipline fell hardest on the one being disciplined. Now that I'm the father of an 8-year-old, I know better. It's tough to be punished, but it's much tougher to punish wisely — strongly enough to correct, gently enough to do no harm. You don't understand what I mean? Believe me, Caleb, one day you will.

All my love,


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2005, Boston Globe