My middle son came home from his dormitory for a quick visit yesterday. (In Israel the boys who learn in Yeshiva get out of class early on Tuesday afternoons. Sometimes they stay in the dorm and sometimes they come home overnight.) We enjoyed our visit and he shared some stories about his classes and some of his friends.
One story was completely appalling. His particular yeshiva gives out report cards three times a year instead of twice, so most of the boys received them by mail during the Chanukah break. One friend received some grades that his parents weren’t happy with, so they decided some disciplinary action was warranted. Ok, so far everything seems normal, right?
Here is where it gets creepy. Number one, instead of discussing the problem with their son, they sent him off to school after the break with all kinds of treats. In the bag with these treats they included a letter, in which they told him that they would be taking away computer priviledges, and suggesting that it would be better for him to stay at school on Tuesday afternoons to study instead of coming home.
Understandably, the kid was furious at his parents for writing this in a letter instead of discussing it face to face. He was probably really hurt, too, at the rejection. He even said that he wants to go live with his grandparents instead of going back home.
What the hell is wrong with these people? How could they be so cruel to their kid? How could they possibly think that rejecting him would be a way to motivate him to study harder? How could they be so cowardly as to write this in a letter instead of talking to him face to face?
Whenever I find myself getting very angry and exasperated with my kids, especially as they go through their teenage years, I make myself stop and think, What kind of a relationship do I want with my sons when they are adults?(which, when you think about it, isn’t very far in the future….) I then tell myself that what I say and do NOW will affect that relationship, and I should try my best to get a grip, even if it means biting my tongue and ignoring something for a little while.
Sometimes this trick works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I am aware that how I relate to my kids now is important. I am afraid that this other family is headed for trouble – over nothing.