Jun 20, 2013

Children Today

R' Shneur Aisenstark (see previous post about him: here) makes a very interesting point in a recent issue (May 22, 2013) of Mishpacha magazine.  He talks about the relationship between parents and children and notes how the respect mixed with love and awe is lacking.  He believes this is the reason for the rebellion we are seeing.

He tells a story that is related by Avi Shulman about a rebbi who was teaching his class about how Yaakov gave Yosef the special garment and this caused the brothers to feel jealousy and hatred towards Yosef.  A boy in the class asked, "What did Yosef do wrong by accepting the coat from his father? It was Yaakov who showed favoritism, so why weren't the brothers angry at their father rather than at their brother?

The rebbi had no answer.  He searched through sefarim and found nothing and he finally asked R' Chaim Kanievsky.  R' Chaim said that it was only in this generation that someone would ask such a question.  In previous generations, the question would not occur to them because they could not imagine that a son would question or have complaints against his father, let alone be angry.  That is why no commentaries address the question.

He ends the article with questions such as: Do our children have a relationship with us that would make them definitely listen to us? Do we convey the message to our children about the imperative to be a good Yid in a way that will have a lifetime impact? Do we convince our children that nonconforming to our mesorah is unacceptable?


  1. The fact that children today expect parents to make them happy is one of the reasons that today's frum parents feel the need to use birth control. Children of the past may have known that they had a role in providing the household with parnassah and in assisting the parents, even from a very early age. Children's lives were also directed entirely by parents who could arrange marriages for them well before they had a say in anything. Making children happy was not an obsession that parents had to be involved with.
    Today, however, children must be provided with expensive nosh, stylish clothing, a variety of interesting experiences such as music lessons, rides to school and other places, overpriced birthday parties, bar/bat Mitzvahs, and weddings. Their schooling is expensive because we must make them comfortable and happy. The price of some of the playthings afforded to today's frum children could feed a village in Africa. We protect children from all negative situations. It is exhausting and financially impossible so parents bail out early in their parenting career. The kids toddle in diapers to day care while mothers try to regain their sanity.
    Parents in my great grandparents generation did not feel that they were directly responsible for their children's happiness. They were responsible for physical health and moral development but children were not as overprotected as children are today.

  2. "children today expect parents to make them happy" - who gives them that expectation if not their parents? If it makes life so hard for the parents, one wonders why they initiate it.