On Monday evening, May 4, Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, founder of Shabbat.com and well-known speaker, shared valuable Torah thoughts and ideas on chinuch during this challenging time. “There’s a calling – a demand. Hashem wants us to become better people.” Rabbi Klatzko imparted, “We have a great test, which is: Can we be patient now?”
Rabbi Klatzko noted that it’s easier to be patient when we are not around family all the time. Young children usually are in school and not underfoot. Now they are home all day. It’s a great test. It’s a good time to learn Pirkei Avos with your children, which teaches what it means to have a good eye and a good heart.
“Now, we have an opportunity to show our children a tremendous amount of mercy.” When children grow up with parents who are moody, it is very difficult for them. They never know what to expect. “The credit we will earn from our children by being patient will pay us back for many years to come.”
He taught that it is forbidden according to the Talmud to put great fear in the house. “We are architects, not of buildings, or doors, but of the mood of our house, the fiber and flow of our house.” He continued, “If we act patiently, our kids learn to act patiently with each other.”
On the other hand, if we yell loudly and angrily, this is what they learn. During COVID-19, it is hard to be pleasant. However, this is what we must be. We must be predictably pleasant in our home. Our children should say that they love being in this house. “You have a chance now to reintroduce yourself to your children. Also, just as it is important to be predictably pleasant with your children, it is also important to be predictably pleasant with your spouse.”
Rabbi Klatzko went on to teach that Adam and Chavah received the curse to have to work very hard. Tuition, camp, mortgages, life insurance, etc, are all sitting over our heads. When our children need our attention, we don’t have the heart to give them, so we don’t really hear what they are saying. “So now, when we have to be home, we can give our children the best attention. We can view those minutes like gold.” He added that children love when we appreciate their passion. For example, you can tell your child that you love watching him build LEGO or hearing him play the piano or seeing her hard at work baking in the kitchen, etc.
He pointed out that now, when we have no Shabbos guests, it’s an opportunity to give your children full attention on Shabbos. He pointed out that you may think you’ve given this child enough attention, but the reality is that you can never give your children enough attention. You can always give them more.
Take a special walk with your child or talk with her in her room. Carve out a way to give her special individualized time. “Time with your children is gold and diamonds!”
He then wisely explained that we desire to speak with our parents because they made speaking to us a priority when we were young children, and we hope this will be the case for us when our children are grown.
Next, he explained that it is hard to picture what children are thinking. We have to know that just as the situation now is shaking us up, it us affecting our children in a big way, as well. It is unnerving, and everyone is wondering when things will go back to normal. Their schedule is out of whack. They are used to friends. For a child, that is very tough. Allow them to Zoom speak and to telephone their friends. They need this socialization. “Children are social creatures.” Be understanding and empathetic. Sometimes a child just needs to be heard. They do need structure and predictability, because this allows a child to feel comfort and to feel protected. Since your child is so off, you may feel urgency to keep him on a strict schedule. It’s not school. It’s foreign. Many children are visual and need to see a teacher in real life. Cut your child some slack here. Most probably, their sleep schedule is off. So, if he needs to sleep late, allow it. We can ruin our relationship with our child who is hurting. He will resent constant nagging and forcing him onto a rigid schedule.
This is a great opportunity to offer your child a reward for studying or keeping his room neat, etc. Understand that COVID-19 is not going to last forever. The quarantine will end. All those great opportunities we had to bond with our family will disappear in a rush to make up work. “We don’t want to regret that we didn’t build or rebuild our relationship with our children.”
He pointed out that we have an obligation to teach our children, but often we give that obligation over to the yeshivah or Bais Yaakov because we are so busy. Now, there is a golden opportunity to spend learning time with your child. Also find out what his passion is.
The next idea he shared is that “we can’t take for granted that our children know our value system.” If we rise early and go to shul and learn Daf Yomi in shul, then our children don’t see us davening or learning Torah. This is an opportunity to learn with them and for them to see us learning.”
He added that if we tell our children to learn, then we can’t live a contradiction. We must also be learning. Children give up when there is contradiction. It can cause anxiety and depression. “Right now, we have the opportunity to model for them everything that we have been teaching them.”
“If we model what it means to be patient and understanding, and that learning Torah is important to us, they will absorb these lessons from us and want to emulate us, and there will be shalom in the house.”
Hashem gave you these children because you are the best parents for them. As Jews, we are best at nurturing and caring about our children’s chinuch. “We nurture in amazing ways; even so, we can still do better. This is an opportunity to flex that muscle.” This shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber