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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Mistaking Identity

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





Should children decide who they are on their own?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When their third child, Storm, was born, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker announced the birth of their new baby with the following email:

"We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? …)."

Needless to say, friends and family alike have trouble understanding Witterick and Stocker's unconventional approach to child-raising. With stereotyping, bullying, and social stigma inevitable parts of growing up, it's easy to argue that manufacturing an additional obstacle to healthy social development is hardly in the child's own best interest.

"Everyone keeps asking us, 'When will this end?'" says Witterick. "And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?"

FREEDOM WITHOUT LIMITS
A single family hardly constitutes a trend. But consider the Egalia preschool in Stockholm, Sweden, where staff avoid such culturally loaded words as "him" and "her," addressing the children as "friends" rather than "boys and girls." According to the AP, "breaking down gender roles is a core mission in [Sweden's] national curriculum," and many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to devise strategies for eliminating "stereotypes."

Could they be right? Is sexual identity nothing more than arbitrary social programming? By eliminating of every vestige of guidance from a child's environment might parents actually help him learn to make better choices? Will indoctrinating a child with the conviction that every imaginable alternative is equally viable produce a canny, confident, and even-keeled adult?

Well, would it make travel easier if we uprooted every street sign and tore down every traffic signal? Would it make navigation easier if we burned every map and disabled every GPS?

The hazards of unrestricted freedom often go overlooked in a society that values personal autonomy above all else. But the formula for resolving the tension between individual expression and social boundaries was articulated by King Solomon, the wisest of all men, nearly three thousand years ago.


Hear, my son, the moral guidance of your father,
and do not forsake the teaching of your mother
(Proverbs 1:8).


Giving voice to the self-evident truth that men are men and women are women, Solomon alludes to the distinct manner in which each a father and a mother contribute to a child's psychological and ethical development. From the father comes instruction — formal guidance in the ways of moral values and discipline. How to know right from wrong, and how to choose good over evil — this is the kind of wisdom most effectively communicated through fatherly counsel and direction.


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Complementing the father's instruction are the lessons absorbed from the mother, who plays the primary role in creating the atmosphere of personal responsibility and spiritual commitment that should permeate a home. It is mainly through the intangible, unquantifiable influence of the mother that a child develops moral sensitivity. Neither father nor mother can successfully assume the role of the other, for our distinct psycho-spiritual complexions are part of the design according to which the universe was formed.

Parents who refuse to assert moral principles, albeit in the name of tolerance and progressivism, succeed only in making their home an environment of intellectual anarchy that will inevitably lead to confusion and dysfunction later in life.

CHILD-RAISING, TAILOR-MADE


Train a youth according to his way;
even when he grows old he will not depart from it
(Ibid. 22:6).


Often cited, correctly, as the source for individualizing education based upon the singular needs of every child, this proverb contains another element often overlooked: the word "youth" — na'ar, in Hebrew — implies immaturity. Truth be told, the majority of us suffer from a sophomoric certitude in the infallibility of our own wisdom. And children are the most susceptible of all to such delusions.

Wanting desperately to believe in their own independence, children seize hold of any excuse, no matter how irrational, to invalidate the wisdom of their parents. Left to his own devices, a youth will steer confidently into the heart of the nearest storm, delighted to be free from the steady guidance of the parent who could have saved him from catastrophe.

Like old wine and fine cuisine, genuine wisdom is an acquired taste, and the immature mind will reject its lessons as surely as the untrained palate will disdain the delicacies of a Cordon Bleu in favor of peasant's fare smothered in salt and ketchup. But we do our children no favor by making it easier for them to marching confidently over the edge of the nearest precipice. Gentle instruction administered with care and consistency will lay the foundations moral discernment as a child grows into adulthood.

A WORLD WITHOUT BORDERS
In his famous legal discourse regarding character development, Maimonides writes that "people are influenced by the society in which they live" (Hilchos Dayos 6:1). Among the many dangers of the modern world, none may be as insidious as the attack upon all natural and moral boundaries. Electric lighting pushes away the darkness of night, central air conditioning and heating insulate us from the changing of the seasons, cars and planes shrink the distance between faraway places, and electronic communication eliminates all delay in correspondence and information.

No one is suggesting that we live like the Amish and eschew modern technology. But these inventions are not as innocuous as we wish to believe: in the same way that physical boundaries have been breached, so too have moral boundaries become increasingly blurred and the path of moral conduct become ever more difficult to find.

Respect for traditional family structure continues to erode. The personal conduct of political leaders raises less concern than the carelessness that leads to getting caught. Violent criminals are cast as victims while defenders of life and limb are vilified as exploiters and oppressors. And the role of human sexuality in mental health and social stability is ever more profoundly misunderstood. Political correctness and moral equivalence have so muddied conventional wisdom that young and old alike often fear censure from their peers for daring to judge even the most abhorrent behaviors.

Yes, children need to learn to make their own choices, and today's helicopter parents who micromanage every aspect of their children's lives are more likely to produce crippled than capable adults. Nevertheless, we dare not overcompensate by throwing our children into the stormy waters of amorality and expecting them to swim. As Solomon has said, it is only through the guidance and teaching of moral values that we will keep our children afloat, as well as enabling them to navigate their way to safe harbor.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .






© 2011, Rabbi Yonason Goldson