Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Lifelines: Monkey in the Middle

C. Saphir

The psychologist turned to us and said, “It’s one of two things. Either your son has spina bifida, or there are problems in your marriage”

Thursday, December 08, 2016

shiur

THE LAST STRAW “If you don’t keep our rules, you can’t live in this house!” Shimon yelled at him one memorable day, when Zevy was 16. “You come home by 11, or you’re outta here!” Zevy left the house that day and didn’t come back.

W e were sitting, my husband Shimon and I, with a child psychologist, discussing the problems our son Zevy was experiencing. At nine years old, he was still having accidents in cheder, and that caused him significant embarrassment and social rejection. On top of that, he was both brilliant and restless — a fatal combination, because he was bored and hyper in class.

After evaluating Zevy, the psychologist turned to us and said, “It’s one of two things. Either your son has spina bifida, or there are problems in your marriage.”

I went out of that meeting utterly devastated. Because he was so, so right. And not because Zevy had spina bifida.

We did have a big problem in our marriage: Shimon was excessively strict and controlling. Not only was he too tough with the kids, he also wanted me to be the one to say no to them. Instead of setting limits himself, he instructed me to crack down on them.

“There’s no nosh in this house during the week, period,” he’d tell me. Or, “The kids have to be inside before dark every day.” Or, “Tell the kids they can’t come out of bed no matter what.” He expected me to be his enforcer, and the more I tried to explain to him that his expectations were unreasonable, the more he dug in his heels.

 

“Kids need discipline!” he’d declare. “This isn’t a free-for-all!” I had to be the one to lay down the law with the kids and implement Abba’s diktats, because I was the one home with the kids most of the time. Besides, the last thing I wanted was to fight with my husband. I’d sooner fight with my kids — ask, cajole, beg, even scream — than ruin my shalom bayis.

That was how, for example, I found myself locking horns every day with Zevy — who was my most challenging child — over his insistence on tucking his tzitzis into his pants. Personally, I didn’t think it was something to get into a power struggle about, but Shimon was adamant that Zevy had to wear his tzitzis out.

After Zevy turned bar mitzvah, we went through a similar routine over the issue of wearing a hat and jacket to davening. Shimon insisted that Zevy absolutely could not daven without his hat and jacket, so I had the unenviable job of nagging Zevy about it.

“It’s too hot for a hat and jacket!” Zevy would argue.

“But Abba says you have to wear them!”

Shimon would then berate me for blaming the rules of the house on him. “You’re turning me into an ogre!” he’d complain. “Zevy doesn’t have to wear a hat and jacket because I said so, he has to do it because it’s the right thing to do!”

Related Stories

The Bigger Picture

Libi Astaire

On Esther Zibell’s canvas, piercing almond eyes and bursts of surprising color transform even mundan...

Lifelines: Thanking the Doctor

C. Saphir

Doctors aren’t prophets. They have permission to heal, but not to make predictions. But only several...

On Site: Greetings from the Holy Land

Libi Astaire

When early photographers snapped the first photos of Eretz Yisrael, “point” and “click” were what yo...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"