by Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
A talmid of Rabbi Avigdor Miller
Patience is one of the key factors necessary for successful child-raising, as Rav Wolbe writes, “Only with limitless patience can parents educate their children,” (Alei Shur, Vol. 2, p. 219).
When parents lack patience, they will lack the ability to spend quality time with their children on Shabbos and Yom Tov, to learn and play with them, or to read them bedtime stories.
Parents should ask themselves, “Have I made time for my child today?”
Because we are always on the move, our large families, busy schedules, second jobs and responsibilities outside the home keep us on an emotional and physical marathon. Who has time to even stop and think? We are glad if we make it through the day without hitting or screaming at our children. As for giving our child a few minutes of attention and affection or a hug and kiss, the child would have to be sick with a high fever or undergoing surgery in the hospital, chas veshalom; otherwise, we are just too busy!
Can you imagine how a child feels when he observes a parent chatting on the phone for half an hour non-stop, when he/she doesn’t even have five minutes to focus on his needs? (How would you feel if your spouse acted the same way toward you?)
Children will experience tremendous emotional pain when they feel deprived of the attention and affection that they desperately need. This pain will result in both immediate and long-range effects on their emotional growth and stability.
Moreover, a child who is deprived of attention and affection will seek them in other ways. One way is to become a nudnik, constantly disturbing his siblings or his parents. When a person is starving, he will eat anything because “stale bread is better than no bread.” The same applies to children; by becoming a troublemaker, they will at least get some attention from their parents.
Children will experience tremendous emotional pain when they feel deprived of the attention and affection that they desperately need.
However, a deprived child may take a more drastic step and seek this affection from outside sources, namely other boys who are suffering from the same deprivation. These boys are usually family dropouts, termed in today’s language as children off the derech, at risk, or noshrim in Hebrew. They roam the streets, desperately looking for new recruits and welcoming them with open arms.
Rav Yechiel Yaakovson, one of the foremost authorities on teenagers at risk in Israel, remarked, “If you don’t spend time with your child when he’s young, you’ll have to spend ten times the amount of time when he’s older with child psychologists, therapists and social workers — not to make up for lost time, but to get the child back on the right track.”
At the end of the day, parents should ask themselves, “Have I made time for my child today?”
These articles are dedicated to the memory of my parents:
Reb Yerachmiel Yisrael Nesanel ben Reb Moshe Dov Z"L
Maras Leah Gittel bas Reb Nachman Tzvi A"H