Aug 9, 2013

Unconditional Love - Yes or No

In the article by R' Aisenstark that I referred to previously here, there was a paragraph that I read and agreed with and didn't think to comment on.  It was where he wrote about unconditional love and said, "I think that our Torah teaches us to take responsibility for our actions and that does not include loving unconditionally no matter what a child does.  Yes, the door to teshuva is always open, and love will most certainly be rekindled to its former state when a child returns.  But a child cannot live in two worlds ... a rebellious child does not belong in our home until he at least tries to conform and change his actions."

Two issues (of Mishpacha) later, R' Yaakov Bender responded to his dear friend's remarks with the latter's permission.  It is most interesting to see the difference of opinion between these two veteran mechanchim.  R' Bender acknowledges that R' Aisenstark's point is correct but suggests that when it comes to chinuch, adjustments need to be made for each generation and what works for one generation might be disastrous for another time.

In R' Bender's opinion, there is no logic as to why children go off the derech when others in the family are doing fine and the parents tried to meet the wayward child's needs.  He thinks that a rebellious child should be showered with love and be minimally criticized.  In most cases, he does not think that having a rebellious child at home will negatively impact other children in the home because the other children know he is going through a difficult phase.

He thinks that implying that any child is a rasha is unfair and to imply that the parents are to blame is even more unfair.  He concludes by pleading that parents love their children "to pieces" and keep them at home.  "Ultimately, you will see great nachas from them," he says.

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