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Tough Love Back in Vogue

Michal Eisikowitz

A New Trend in Parenting Takes Us Back to Tradition

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

tree“I was once standing at a busyJerusalemintersection waiting for the crosswalk to turn green,” relates Rebbetzin Malka Kaganoff, educational director of She’arim seminary in Yerushalayim and a frequent speaker on parenting topics. “Next to me was a mother of three young boys. The mother said, ‘Yanky, you may not cross the street!’ Yanky saw there were no cars coming and scampered across the street. Mother tried son #2: ‘Shloimy, you may not cross the street!’ Shloimy promptly bolted across the road. The mother then turned to her youngest: ‘Good boy, Sruli! You’re listening to Mommy!’

“What was so alarming, witnessing this incident,” says Rebbetzin Kaganoff, “was that the mother was totally unaware that she had no control over her kids. And in a year or two, Sruli will probably become just like the others.”

“Our parenting standards have sunk so low that we don’t even question behaviors that would have been considered outrageous 30 years ago,” concurs Simi Yellen, a popular Los Angeles–based parenting instructor who has given teleconference classes and private consultations for over a decade. “We’ve lost our accurate lens for what is normal, and now we have to raise back the bar.”

A growing number of parenting experts feel the same way, and are determined to restore Torah-based respect to Jewish homes.

“There are only two psukim that dictate the parent-child relationship in the Torah,” says Simi. “One is ‘Respect your father and mother.’ The other is ‘Your father and mother you must fear.’ If respect and a healthy yirah are the foundation, only then can you build up to the sky.”

Though she is all for warmth, love, and positivity, Simi — and others — fiercely believe this: Warmth alone doth not an enduring relationship make.


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