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Thought for the Day: Being a Role Model for Your Children

In response to the TftD on serving HaShem with joy as an integral part of chinuch ha'banim, received an email giving another dimension of the attitude by some toward the Chafeitz Chaim's minyan:
If the bochurim would wake up late, they would say, "Oh well, now I guess I have to go to the Chofeitz Chaim's minyan. And those 10 minutes of mussar are gonna mess up my day!"
That bothered me.  I can understand that even a gadol ha'dor of the stature of the saintly Chafeitz Chaim could seem like "just another rabbi" to his generation.  But to be feel that the mussar would ruin their day!  That means they appreciated who the Chafeitz Chaim was and even so wanted to avoid his beneficial instruction.  The very next day, on my ride to work, I had an opportunity to appreciate their feelings.  I had downloaded three shiurim on chinuch ha'banim by R' Yisroel Belsky from (do yourself a favor and listen to all of them, probably a few times).  After I heard him describe a situation which I had all to often perpetrated, he continued, "Don't ever do that; it does damage that can probably never be undone."  At that point I really, really wanted to unplug and just wallow in my misery as I pedaled through the rest of the cold, damp ride into work.  Instead, though, I stayed plugged in and listened for more lessons on what not to repeat and even some glimmer of hope for undoing some of the damage.

One of the fundamental principles R' Belsky stressed was to always act, not react.  For example, you tell your 2/5/17 year old daughter not to take the candy/iPad/car, and if she does, she will be pahtched/sent for timeout/grounded.  She does and you follow through with your threat.  After all, she needs to be taught that when you say something, you mean it.

While that is certainly an important and valuable lesson.  Consider the following: Suppose a huge monster for which she has no name had grabbed her hand and forced her to take the candy/iPad/car.  You obviously never meant to punish her for something over which she had no control!  Unless, of course, you were also being forced by that same monster to carry out your terrible decree.  And that may very well be the lesson she learns.  She may have no name for that monster, but you do: יצר הרע/evil inclination.  She may not even know how much control her יצר הרע has over her, but you do.  If you react, you demonstrate to her that not only is she subject to the whims of the יצר הרע, but so are you.  Your response, warns R' Belsky, needs to take all of that into consideration.  Maybe sometimes you will pahtch/send for timeout/ground, but it should never be a reaction.  Waiting a few minutes/hours/days before acting is sometimes required.

Just be sure that when you are standing your ground, you are not actually being held in place by that monster with no real name.


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