May 5, 2011

Reframing Getting Out of Hand

Her child dismantles the bathroom sink yet again.  Following her teacher's instruction she chooses to view this positively as in, "How very industrious and creative of him!"

It's all about how you look at things. "You don't mean lazy," the parenting teacher said. "You mean laid back," and so on.

Yes, if you live in small quarters and cannot move, it is beneficial to view your home as cozy rather than crowded.  It's called having an ayin tova, viewing things positively.  Likewise, reframing one's life circumstances so one isn't bitter is a positive application of the concept.  I've read people's life stories which were quite tragic and yet some of the people involved were upbeat about life.  "Holy Woman" - Rebbetzin Sarah Kramer is a good example of someone who lived through a nightmare and yet faced life with joy and counted her blessings.

But something seems quite amiss when, in educating children, we opt to view all their foibles, bad traits and actions in a rosy light.  Mishlei describes the lazy man in very unflattering terms.  Shlomo Ha'Melech doesn't "reframe" the lazy man's approach to life as one in which he "looks before he leaps."  He says the man is lazy!

If you don't identify negative traits for what they really are, how will you modify them? If a child is being destructive and you call it creative, who are you kidding? It's true that a parent will look benevolently upon a child if what they do is reframed in positive terms and it is a good thing for parents to look benevolently at their children, but isn't there too much of a good thing? Middos can be used for good and bad and have to be identified and scrutinized. If the child is being bossy, that's not being a leader, it's being bossy! Can the child be guided into becoming a leader? Yes, but calling bossiness - leadership is not true and not helpful.

In our society today we have trouble calling evil, evil; and terrorists, terrorists.  In our Western world that champions moral relativism we say, what's evil to me might not be evil to someone else; my terrorist is someone else's freedom fighter.  This sort of reframing is evil!

Koheles 3:4 "There is a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to eulogize and a time to dance," etc. Likewise, there is a time to reframe and a time to confront the truth.

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